Dog in shelter
© Sputnik / Valery Melnikov
A stray dog in a shelter.
The owner of a private shelter for stray dogs in Russia is accused of abandoning almost 70 of his animals, leaving them to resort to cannibalism to survive. He was arrested after returning from a trip to Thailand.

The horrible case of alleged gross negligence and animal cruelty happened in the far-eastern Amursk Region. The shelter is located in Chigiry, a satellite village of the provincial capital Blagoveshchensk. Until recently, it had a contract with the authorities to house stray dogs after they are caught by animal control services.

The contract expired in December, however, and the owner, Vyacheslav Zolotarev, apparently decided that caring for the animals was no longer his job. Instead, he and his wife went on a trip to Thailand, according to reports in the local media, but apparently made no effort to ensure that the animals were cared for in their absence.

The outcome was disastrous for the dogs. Last week, animal rights activists broke into the facility and collected video evidence showing half-eaten carcasses lying all over the kennel. The police and veterinary services acted on a tip-off and said they found 47 dead dogs and 21 that were still alive.

Zolotarev was arrested on Wednesday after coming back to Blagoveshchensk from his trip. He is suspected of animal cruelty, which under a newly amended Russian law carries a punishment of up to five years in jail.

The surviving animals from the facility, which was described as a 'dog gulag' by some locals, were taken by nearby shelters. Activists say the dogs are in poor shape and will require medical treatment and proper care to deal with the trauma of their ordeal.