03/13/13 Veterinary Inspection Leaves Animals to Die!

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Animal Friends warns of powerlessness of associations and citizens to save animals from negligence and torture

- Veterinary inspection ignores slow death of severely undernourished dog that associations and citizens want to save; founding animal protection inspection is imperative

In an unfenced yard of a family home in Zagreb's Ravnice area, which is full of scattered rubbish, for more than ten months now there has been a dog tied to a tree with a plastic washing line rope that completely stops him from moving. The St. Bernard bitch has no dog house or any shelter whatsoever, but is exposed to all weather conditions. She is denied food and water which is why she is currently extremely undernourished, apathetic, neglected, completely exhausted and her life is in danger. Horrified neighbors are continually reporting her case to animal protection associations, but they can only desperately wait for the animal to die.

How is this possible for a country that will soon join the EU and that possesses prescribed animal protection through the Animal Protection Act and Criminal Law?

SUZA (Town of Zagreb Association of Animal Protection Organizations) filed a complaint with veterinary inspection in April 2012 stating that the dog was being kept in inappropriate conditions and exposed to a burdensome state that endangers her health and her life. It submitted a request for repeated inspection supervision, as well as a criminal complaint because of the torture of the animal. A complaint to governing institutions was also made by a citizen who was observing the dog’s suffering over a longer period of time. In the complaints it was asked for the dog to be taken away from her owner and put in the city shelter for abandoned animals of town of Zagreb, until the owner secures appropriate conditions for her keeping.

Complaints were made due to Animal Protection Act violation, but the veterinary inspection reacted only through the Veterinary Act and the Ordinance of the marking of dogs being violated, so they only asked that the dog owner get the dog vaccinated and chipped. Even though we are talking about the St. Bernard here, the veterinary inspection ignored SUZA's request to check if the dog had been lost or stolen, but by vaccinating and chipping it legalized the dog, and because of this it is now even harder to ask for her to be taken away and placed in appropriate conditions.

The inspection has not noticed anything wrong with the fact that the dog was spending a cold winter without any shelter from rain and snow, constantly tied to a tree, without any food or water and care that a living creature deserves. They did nothing to protect the dog from her daily suffering, but they left her in the same conditions. The police cannot react and help the dog as long as the veterinary inspection claims that the conditions are satisfactory. The citizens and animal protection associations cannot take the dog away and ensure satisfactory living conditions and veterinary care because the dog belongs to an owner and to take her away would be considered as theft. The fact that the owners are extremely aggressive makes it even more difficult to help the dog.

This example is just one of many daily cases that point to the powerlessness of associations and citizens when it comes to reacting to observed abuse due to a lack of action from the veterinary inspection that alone has the statutory power to help animals, and it is not doing so. In cases like this one even the police have no statutory power to help the animals without the work of the veterinary inspection. The animal is sentenced to death because it cannot wait for help from inert and disinterested institutions.

These examples show that the legal provisions are not worth the paper they are written on and that the Animal Protection Act is not being enforced. Animal protection associations have been persistently and loudly warning of this problem, seeking a reform of the veterinary inspection and the founding of an animal protection inspection which would efficiently and quickly react by sanctioning animal violators, irresponsible owners and all those that in any way do not uphold the Act.

Animal Friends invites citizens to sign the petition for a veterinary inspection reform and to persistently report every case of animal neglect and torture, calling for governing institution to act and to write to the Ministry of Agriculture and demand that the Animal Protection Act be enforced.

This case, like many similar cases throughout Croatia, demonstrates a need for clear legislation, i.e. for a ban on keeping dogs on chains or other permanent ties.

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