"I Would Rather Kill a Dog Than Temporarily House It In Poor Conditions"
Predrag Baraba, the owner of a shelter which performs euthanasia, made a decision after accusing institutions of not doing their job and volunteers of taking the dogs to Germany.
Pokupsko Cerje Animal Shelter closed the door to the volunteers who have been adopting the dogs at risk of being euthanized after the expiration of a 60 day period.
The decision was made by the owner of the shelter, Predrag Baraba, and justified by his lack of control over the dogs' destination. The volunteers answered the accusation by claiming that the information and contracts had been sent to the owner and veterinary inspector in charge of the shelter.
"I would rather kill a dog, it is better off lying dead in a box than temporarily housed in poor conditions," says the owner, a doctor of veterinary medicine. Since the whereabouts of some of the dogs could not be ascertained during the follow-up checks, he claims that some of them ended up in Germany. He has no proof, but wonders: "Where are the hundreds of dogs rescued from Pokupsko Cerje?"
"I reported this, but it was ignored," says P. Baraba, adding that nobody is doing their job, from the inspection to the State Attorney's Office and veterinarians. And the gang, as he calls the volunteers, have acquaintances everywhere. To our inquiries regarding the accusations that dogs have been leaving the shelter sick and frightened and females pregnant, which we heard from the adopters, Baraba answered that he had no such knowledge and that nobody had complained to the shelter. He does not spay/neuter, because "who could pay for that," nor does he have the means to pregnancy test the females that come into the shelter. Although help has been offered, he claims not to know about it.
"As shelter manager, I have the right to decide who can take a dog, and a person can take one dog only. I prepare contracts and we perform a background check on the adopter before signing the papers," Baraba emphasizes.
Potential adopters confirmed that e-mails and the phone at the shelter often go unanswered. Jana K. and Bernarda B. (identities known to the editorial staff) went through a background check after filling out a questionnaire. Bernarda B. was declined because of her German citizenship, with an additional explanation that in Germany they do all kinds of things to dogs. Mrs. Jana also came back from Cerje without a dog, having spoken to a volunteer there who was introduced as the veterinarian’s missus.
The woman volunteer "the boss"
"The dogs that I wanted to adopt were pregnant, but Mrs. Brankica – also called "boss," she was at my apartment – told me that they could not guarantee that any of their female dogs were not pregnant. They didn't know their names, and they weren't written on the kennels, either. There weren't any blankets or beds which they brag about in their pictures. I suggested that we take the dogs to an ultrasound and spay them and that I would finance all of it, but she said no," told us Mrs. Jana K., adding that the owner of the shelter had not even greeted them when he had walked by.
In the City of Velika Gorica we tried to find out if the shelter was meeting the stipulations of the concession contract, what were the costs and if the City was familiar with the adopter contract in which the owner of the shelter has, of his own accord, determined a fine for the failure to meet the terms of the contract. The payment is to be made to the shelter and the violator determined by the owner.
"After conducting the public procurement procedure, the City of Velika Gorica and Pokupsko Cerje Veterinary Clinic signed an agreement on dog care. The City pays the cost of accommodation for 60 days for dogs with no known owner only. According to the conducted procurement, the City annually pays 750,000 Croatian kunas, or 62 thousand kunas a month, which covers the costs of catching the dogs, medical examinations, treatment, medical care, microchipping, vaccination against rabies, deworming, board, cleaning, food and the 24-hour standby duty. Further action prescribed by law (euthanasia) after the expiration of the 60 day period is not under the obligation of the City of Velika Gorica so we do not have information on that. The adoption of the dogs and its conditions are not in the jurisdiction of the City of Velika Gorica so we cannot comment on the contractual obligations between the Shelter and adopters," stands, among other things, in the response from the Mayor's Office. Our request to see the contract between the City and shelter and speak to Mayor Dražen Barisic went unanswered.
From the Ministry of Agriculture came a response that everything was forwarded to a veterinary inspector and that they would get back to us after the inspection.
A shelter or breeding kennel – lots of puppies and pregnant dogs
Although the City of Velika Gorica allocates the money for the shelter, it appears to be interested only in meeting its legal obligations. By providing board for the abandoned animals it is absolved from further responsibility.
The City seems not to care that there will be less dog adoptions, since the owner of the shelter admits to a single-digit success rate, while the volunteers were much more successful. Even though it claims that euthanasia is not under its obligations, it will still pay for it. Low adoption rates should not be surprising. There is no information center to inform the citizens about the found animals. The shelter does not bother much with advertising: there is only a website with incomplete data and no arrival date for the animals, and ads – on the radio. There is no printed information on the walls at the shelter, which the owner justifies with the humidity that easily destroys paper.
The shelter is open for four hours, which is not convenient for the citizens of Velika Gorica, who must drive more than half an hour to reach it, although it meets the legal norm. The shelter does not observe the Ministry of Agriculture regulations because it does not control animal reproduction. In one of the kennels we discovered three pregnant females, with the fourth having just whelped. Spying/neutering and vaccination are standard procedures in other shelters, but the owner of Pokupsko Cerje claims not to be able to afford them, regardless of the fact that he receives 2,000 kuna a month per dog. Is the City aware how the money is being spent? Don't the citizens who provide the money have the right to know that too?