01/04/13 Killing Animals Becomes a Criminal Offense!

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Animal Friends welcomes regulations to the new Penal Code which came into force this year

- Stricter prison sentences for torturing and killing animals; abused animals taken away from abuser...

The most recent horrifying case in which unknown perpertrators put a firecracker in the mouth of a dog, and due to the severity of the injures the vet had to put down the dog, actualizes the permanent problem of sadism towards animals.

The new Penal Code, which came into force on the first day of 2013, brings significant changes by prescribing severe penalties for killing and torturing animals. The important news is that the Ministry of Justice accepted the proposal from Animal Friends which stated that the law sanctions not only severe animal torture, as in the previous Code, but also killing of animals. Often there are situations in which animals were killed in a gruesome and painful way, without previous severe abuse or giving vent to base instincts, which made those cases difficult to sanction on the base of the Penal Code. An example is throwing a dog out the window from the fourth floor, hanging dogs, killing stray dogs in veterinary clinics which are not registered to performa the duties of a shelter, etc. The new regulation now states that those "who kill an animal without justified reason" can be punished, removing the vagueness of the previous regulation which indirectly stated that it is permissible to kill an animal for one's own sadism if there was not torture before death.

Also new to the Code is the regulation which says that the abused animal, who survives abuse, will be taken away from the abuser. That is a big positive step in animal protection since so far, due to non-existing legislation, an abused animal, after recovering from injuries and receiving veterinary care, was returned to the abuser. Animal protection organizations invested great efforts to try to save animals from further abuse, due to a lack of legal regulations.

The new Penal Code repealed the possiblity of a fine for torturing or killing an animal, as was prescribed by the old Code, and instead of the prison sentence of up to six months, Article 205 stipulates that whoever kills an animal without justified reason or severely abuses an animal, inflicts unnecessary pain or unnecessary suffering, will be punished by imprisonment not exceeding one year. Punishment for torturing (and killing) animals for personal gain is increased from up to one year in prison to two years, whereas the prison sentence of up to three months is increased to up to six months in prison for those who out of negligence withholds food or water or exposes the animal to hardship for a prolonged period of time.

Complete abolition of the possibility of imposing fines for torturing and killing animals indicates that the legislation of the Republic of Croatia has recognized abusing and killing of animals as a serious offense which requires strict prison sentences, in accordance with developed social awareness of the importance of ethical treatment of animals and necessity of sanctioning torturing and abusing them. It also proves that experts have recognized abusing and killing animals as an important social problem, and animal abusers and killers as people who dangerous not only to animals, but also to people and their environment, and that it is necessary to use prison sentences to influence the awareness that sadism towards the weaker will not go unpunished.

New provisions to the Penal Code allow for much more efficient animal protection and sanctioning abusers, and it can be expected that imposing prison sentences will have a preventive effect on a decrease in the number of sadism towards animals. Animal Friends calls on citizens to report to the police, State Attorney and veterinary inspection cases of abusing and killing animals and thus encourage courts to impose prison sentences, so that the new provisions of the Penal Code are held in practice. Along with a joint effort from citizens, animal protection organizations and relevant institutions, many cases of animal abuse can be prevented, many lives saved, and we can contribute to creating a compassionate society.



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