05/26/22 The City of Dubrovnik is the Only Culprit in the Case of Suffering Abandoned Animals!

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Animal Friends Croatia warns of the alarming and shameful situation at a major tourist destination

- 20 years of city authorities’ law-breaking neglect directly reflects on dogs’ lives

“Referring to the veterinary inspection report, the Dubrovnik city authorities have decided to relocate dogs from the Žarkovica unregistered dog asylum to other asylums across Croatia until a local shelter is constructed.” This piece of news is not from two days ago when the veterinary inspection, accompanied by the police, arrived to inspect the shelter and ordered the relocation of a certain number of dogs to a remote asylum hundreds of kilometres away, but from 2015.

Back then, just like the day before yesterday, the action and the rhetoric of Dubrovnik city authorities were the same. It is interesting to note that just one day before the inspection, an announcement was made that the last administrative hurdle had been removed and the location for the construction of the future asylum had been decided. “For over two decades, Dubrovnik city authorities have been reiterating the same shabby lines about the construction of the asylum, which no one takes seriously any longer as it is clear these promises are nothing more but empty political demagogy. At the same time, the legal obligations of the City of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik-Neretva County concerning abandoned animal care are met by others who are not required to do so,” state Animal Friends Croatia.

They note that cities and municipalities have been required by law to care for abandoned animals since 2006, and the City of Dubrovnik does not meet those requirements with empty promises. The group wonder how it may be possible that the City of Dubrovnik does not already have a shelter and it has not even been cautioned, let alone penalised, for breaking the law, while it has been talking about the construction of the phantom shelter for over 20 years. “Where are the dogs rescued from the streets of Dubrovnik; who has been taking care of them all these years? Who is taking care of them today, when numerous, even the poorest of municipalities regularly shelter dogs from their area, through their own programmes and at their own expense; when those same municipalities conduct household visits for microchip checks when they finance the neutering of owned cats and dogs…? Does the law apply to all, except Dubrovnik?”

Animal Friends Croatia notes that, back in 2015, they forwarded a memo to the City of Dubrovnik warning that the city was in breach of the Animal Protection Act at the time because they had not built or financed a shelter, they had not organised an information centre for abandoned animals, they had not educated their citizens by raising public awareness on animal protection, they had not financed neutering programmes for abandoned cats and dogs. In other words, they had not met their legal obligations although they had ample funds to do so! The group wrote to the mayor of Dubrovnik again in 2017 and informed him on the city’s obligations according to the new Animal Protection Act, however, the authorities continued ignoring the Act.

“On the other hand, it is clear Dubrovnik cannot leave the care of abandoned dogs to Žarkovica volunteers, who are not required by law to care for animals, but that it must create adequate conditions for dogs by building a shelter and thus securing animals’ well-being. In addition to irresponsible citizens who abandon their animals and/or do not neuter their cats and dogs, the one and the only culprit for the decade-long lack of care for the abandoned animals in Dubrovnik is the City of Dubrovnik,” stated Animal Friends Croatia resolutely.

The group also expressed their consternation by the fact that Dubrovnik did not conduct dog microchip checks through household visits which were due to be implemented in 2018. The city does not sufficiently participate in the neutering of owned cats and dogs, at the same time leaving the neutering and medical treatment of street cats to volunteers. Animal Friends Croatia are outraged by these practices, believing that such a world-renowned tourist destination should set the standard for other cities instead of leading the way in abandoned animal neglect.

The group emphasises that, although Dubrovnik is one of the richest Croatian cities, it is shameful that it has a contract for the care of abandoned animals with a shelter 300km away. “Imagine the absurd situation in which a municipality in Zagreb County signs a contract with a shelter in Osijek? However, when it comes to Dubrovnik, there are no sanctions even if the transport of dogs to such distances affects their well-being. While Dubrovnik makes promises of building the best shelter in this part of Europe, let it build a more modest one so they can start caring for their street dogs, which was made easy by the 2019 Book of Rules on Shelters,” conclude Animal Friends Croatia.

The group is reiterating its appeal to Dubrovnik authorities to finally build the shelter and start implementing the Animal Protection Act instead of making empty promises and maintaining their image of animal haters. The group have announced that they would file a formal complaint and demand a penalty for the City of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik-Neretva County for breaking the law continuously.

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