Between 70 and 110 dogs in Svalbard die every year, and “probably more than half of the dogs are dumped or burned illegally,” according to Longyearbyen city officials. With a waste facility in Adventdalen that is the only legal means of disposal closing soon, the city’s community council on Tuesday approved a dog crematorium in next year’s budget envisioned as a long-term and self-funded solution.
“As of today, there are nobody responsible for the proper waste management of these dogs,” according to an analysis presented to the council after Conservative Party members raised the issued in September. “They are burned at the stake, dumped in the sea or buried privately.”
There are about 1,100 dogs in Svalbard and, while some older animals return to the mainland with their owners while still alive, it is illegal to transport dead canines to the mainland for disposal. The city’s disposal facility receives 20 to 55 dogs annually, but even the current ability to deal with that minority of dead animals will cease with the plant scheduled to close in 2022.
The council approved 900,000 kroner next year for the new crematorium, which will be able to dispose of dogs weighing up to 60 kilograms. Disposal fees, estimated at 1,500 kroner for private owners and half that for commercial kennels, will be determined when determining the charges for city services next year, with the council approving language stating “the solution must be self-financing.”
In addition to allowing for proper disposal of dog carcasses, city proponents state it will also address concerns such as handling animals infected with rabies or other fatal diseases. The crematorium, which will initially be located at the current waste facility until a more appropriate permanent location is established, is seen as “a long-term investment that can be used for many years.”
“We’ve been in contact with the large commercial kennels and with a veterinarian,” the report submitted to the council states. “Feedback from them is positive. They are calling for a more dignified end for the dogs than with today’s solutions and are positive about the measure.”