05/08/12 Dogs and Their Guardians have the Right to Use Public Transportation!

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Animal Friends sends letters to various offices in Zagreb and other Croatian cities on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Croatian citizens

Animal Friends has sent letters to the relevant municipal offices in several Croatian cities, in which they have demanded that citizens should be allowed to use public transportation together with their companion animals, as is the civilized practice in other European countries.

Animal Friends has been trying for years to achieve the alteration of the Decision on the Public Transportation of Persons in the City of Zagreb. An official request was sent back in 2006 to the departments of physical planning, environmental protection, municipal construction, architecture, communal services, and transportation, yet to no avail. Upon contacting the company in charge of public transportation in Zagreb, it turned out that they were not only willing to deal with the problem of companion animals in public transportation and participation in further negotiations, but also that, in their opinion, the transportation services of other Croatian cities were equally prepared to solve the problem.

It is unacceptable that a passenger should not be allowed to enter a tram or a bus with his or her dog. Considering the fact that more than 40,000 dogs live in the city of Zagreb alone with their human families, it is clear that the present regulation ignores the rights and needs of several hundred thousand Croatian citizens and animals under their guardianship.

It is not clear how guardians should reach the veterinarian office with their dogs if they do not have a car or money to take a taxi, or why they should be prevented from using the public transportation with their dogs when they want or need to, considering the fact that they are paying the taxes and the costs of maintaining the public transportation network like everyone else.

The current municipal decision on the public transportation of persons in the City of Zagreb allows only blind persons to bring a specially trained and muzzled dog into the vehicle, while other citizens have restricted access, i.e. their animals are allowed on trams and buses only on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and days before holidays, or during the night hours (from 8:00 P.M. until 6:00 A.M.), which refers to a single muzzled dog on a short leash, with an identity card issued by a kennel organization. This restrictive regulation, although formally valid, is practically inapplicable, not only because of the hours in which the transportation of dogs is allowed, but also because it refers only to those dogs which are registered at a kennel organization. As far as Animal Friends is informed, other Croatian cities have similar municipal regulations, which means that their citizens are not allowed either to use public transportation with their animals without limitations.

Animal Friends is of the opinion that the existing regulation must be changed, resulting in a new one, which would be enacted after a consultation and joint deliberation with animal protection organizations, and which would enable the transportation services, under the conditions agreed, to allow access to public transportation to animal guardians together with their animals. It has been pointed out that in major European cities dogs are allowed into almost all public buildings, including restaurants and public transportation. In Croatia, it would be a good start to solve at least the problem of transportation on trams and buses.

Animal Friends proposes that the municipal regulation defining the conditions of public transportation should include the following article:
"1. Passengers have the right to bring animals into public transportation vehicles if these animals are kept in appropriate carriers.
2. Passengers have the right, regardless of point 1, to bring animals into public transportation vehicles, with the exception of dangerous dogs, under the condition that the dogs are muzzled and kept on a short leash."

Thus the first point would regulate the transportation of all animals that fit into carriers (small dogs, cats, bunnies, and so on), which would ensure the safety of passengers. The second point would regulate the transportation of dogs under the condition that they should be kept on a short leash and muzzled. Dogs that are dangerous according to the Regulation on Dangerous Dogs would not have access to public transportation under any conditions. The ban referring to particular days and hours would be obsolete since guardians would not bring their dogs into vehicles in rush hours for the benefit of the dogs themselves. It is very difficult to determine which exactly are the peak hours and on which transportation lines, since the situation changes according to the weather conditions and seasons (e.g. summer months). The condition of possessing an identity card issued by a kennel organization is pointless and unjust, since it is irregular to impose membership to any organization to the citizens as a condition for using public transportation, and there are very few people who possess it.

Enacting these important decisions in order to regulate the conditions under which citizens can use public transportation together with their pets would show that the Croatian cities respect all their citizens and that they are ready to make positive moves modelled upon other European cities in the treatment of animals and their guardians.

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