Moscow Plagued by Packs of Wild Dogs

Vicious dogs run wild in Moscow's subways and streets -- 20K attacks last year.

ByABC News
February 9, 2009, 10:05 PM

Feb 18, 2008 — -- In any big city, crime is a concern, but the citizens of Moscow have a unique danger to dodge on a daily basis.

According to official statistics, last year there were about 20,000 cases of humans attacked by stray dogs; 8,000 of them serious enough to involve the police or requiring hospitalization.

This means that in Moscow you are much more likely to get bitten by a dog than be mugged.

Commuters have to grapple with packs of unwanted strays on a daily basis.

Andrei Akinin, one of the millions of Moscovites who take the underground train to work, told ABC News, "I work in the very center of the city. There is a pack of dogs at my metro station and I'd passed by them every day, but one day I was late for work and was running. The whole pack attacked me. My clothes were torn, I was bitten and had to have nine painful injections for rabies."

The dogs winter in the ventilation shafts of Moscow's subway. There they huddle for warmth and survive the severe frosts.

Come spring their numbers are swelled with puppy power and the Moscow jogger is seriously at risk.

Alexei is one of the many who regularly run the hills of what was the 1980 Olympics cycle course in Moscow's elite Krylatskoye region.

He told ABC News, "I've been attacked more than once by a pack of homeless dogs. I now carry some sausage and a repellent just in case. The food usually does the trick and usually an aggressive dog can be distracted, but you never know. The repellent is just in case. Being attacked by a stray Rottweiler is no fun."

Many Moscow joggers follow Alexei's example. Along with their ubiquitous iPod, they equip themselves with a piece of sausage and a can of pepper spray.