Penalties for Not Establishing Animal Shelters
The Animal Protection Act states that "the establishment and operation shall be financed by one or more units of local or regional self-government," whereas "the activities of collecting abandoned and lost animals shall be financed by units of local self-government" (Art. 56, par. 4 and 5). Despite that, many local communities have not established animal shelters since the implementation of the Animal Protection Act in 2007, thus violating the law. Therefore, it is necessary to find a way, by means of imposing penalties, to force them to take the Animal Protection Act seriously and begin to put it into practice.
It has already become clear that many local communities do not take the Animal Protection Act seriously, since they have not even started to fulfil the conditions prescribed by it. A clearly defined system of penalties would improve this situation considerably and force the local communities to start doing what they were supposed to do long ago. Often their neglect is not even due to the lack of finances, but simply the fact that they do not care about something that does not imply any penalties. The law should be clearer and more definite in this point.
Moreover, local communities do not realize that it is their duty to obey the law, and that they should treat abandoned animals as their guardians, that the animals are their responsibility, that it is on them to implement a spaying/neutering program, and so on. They often justify their neglect by a contract they may have with a shelter or a former "veterinary-hygienic service," even though that does not fulfil all the conditions and duties imposed by the Animal Protection Act.
All should be equal before the law, the citizens and the mayors.
Let us consider the example of Split: how is it possible that a large city like that has no animal shelter? It can be tolerated if a smaller community has a contract with a registered shelter, but Split is a city with almost 300,000 inhabitants together with its suburban area. Moreover, the Split-Dalmatia County is the largest county in all of Croatia, and one of the most densely populated ones, with as many as 16 townships and 39 districts. One should also take into account the fact that its population increases for at least 100% during the summer months, owing to tourism. How is it possible that the entire county does not need a single shelter for abandoned animals?! Who is in charge here, and how can we actually force the Split-Dalmatia County, or at least one of its towns, to perform its legal duties? It is because of such cases, which are widespread in Croatia, that we demand that these two decisions should be included into an article that has a penalty provision.
Art. 56, par. 5 should include the word "wounded," because this aspect is often neglected and there is no place apart from Zagreb which has an organized system of care for wounded animals.
Moreover, in Art. 56, par. 5 the word "collecting" should be substituted by "bringing to safety" since it expresses more clearly what the Act actually means here, and the term is also simply more appropriate.
This proposal from Animal Friends Croatia for amending the Animal Protection Act was submitted in 2012.