I live in a village 10 km outside Veliko Tarnovo. It is a lovely village and has all the usual aspects of Bulgarian rural life. Since our arrival we have had major problems with our neighbour's dogs.
They circle the perimeter of our land and often take an aggressive stance. We spoke to the neighbour and subsequently with the police, because my 14-year-old son had had a close and dangerous encounter with the dogs. Usually they were kept in for a few days, but then let out again.What we did not realise at the time is that a small herd of 20-odd calves were being housed in the family's garden. These cattle are being milked and slaughtered on the same premises. The slaughtering is carried out at night and we can hear the animals' screaming.My wife witnessed the aftermath of such an incident: the carcass was surrounded by dogs and the residue was running into the main street. We have even found body parts left in the street. This area is also used for traffic and pedestrian walk-through. I must stress this is a domestic situation, not a farm, and the perimeters are enclosed by other gardens. Obviously that meat is going into the local food chain.We are aware of the difference in culture and embrace it as such. However, many locals have asked us for assistance; they seem afraid to speak out but would like us to.Could you help us rectify this horrific situation before someone gets hurt by the frenzied dogs or killed by contamination.
VAGABOND: There is something you can do – alert the relevant authorities. With regard to the underground slaughterhouse, write a letter explaining the situation, sign it and send it to the village mayor. If he fails to react or you'd rather go to a higher body from the start, address it to the Regional Veterinary Medicine Authority at 77 Nikola Gabrovski St, 5000 Veliko Tarnovo; phone: (062) 603 156; fax: (062) 603 159. In the latter case copy the letter also to the Regional Inspectorate for Protection and Control of Public Health in Veliko Tarnovo, 23 Nikola Gabrovski St; phone: (062) 622 261; fax: (062) 614 370 as well as to the Environment Issues Department with the Municipality of Veliko Tarnovo, 2 Mayka Bulgaria Sq; phone: (062) 619 203; fax: (062) 627 997. Each of them is obliged to react within a month of receipt of the letter so it may be a good idea to check if they received it or better still hand it in person. If the letter is in Bulgarian, they won't be able to excuse any delays a translation from English may require. In a recent case, which appears to be similar to the one you describe, the Regional Inspectorate for Protection and Control of Public Health assigned the owners of an illegal dairy farm to meet the relevant requirements of running one within two months. As they failed to do so, they had to either close it down or move it to a proper premises. In the end, the owners bought a proper farm.
With regard to the dangerous dogs, again, write a signed letter addressing it to the village mayor or the mayor of Veliko Tarnovo. The situation here can be complicated, as it seems the dogs are domestic, not feral ones. Still, municipalities have adopted and do enforce an instruction according to which pet dogs need to be muzzled whenever they leave their owner's home.
Last year I bought a house in Konstantinovo, in the Burgas region, and some English people living in the village have threatened violence to me and my partner unless we hand over £5,000 to them. We have been to the police over there about it and we are waiting to see the outcome, which, we are told, may amount to nothing, as we do not live there permanently.
Elaine Grant, UK