It is Shameful That People Should Be Forced to Do the Work of Veterinary Inspection!

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The case of the starved and sick St Bernard dog in Zagreb, whom people took away from her owners after the Veterinary Inspection turned a deaf ear to the report of SUZA association, provoked numerous reactions.

Dogs like this unfortunate St Bernard, who spent her entire life chained and starving, exposed to all sorts of weather and neglected in terms of health care and in all other respects, live in large numbers in all Croatian cities and villages. This is proven by numerous reports and calls for help addressed to animal protection organizations. It is highly important and praiseworthy if someone gets involved in saving a specific animal, since such initiatives often literally save the animals' lives. However, it is clear that neither individual people nor associations can liberate an animal from the courtyard and take each and every neglected or abused animal in Croatia away from its owners. That is why Croatia has its Animal Protection Act and its Penalty Code, which define penalties for neglecting, abandoning, torturing, and killing animals. These legal regulations should be implemented by the Veterinary Inspection and the police, on the basis of individual reports.

Abducting dogs who are microchipped and vaccinated, which automatically assigns them to an owner, is punishable by law as theft, since dogs are legally considered property. This entails additional complications for those who, unable to stand by and watch the institutions in charge do nothing, decide to take justice into their own hands and help the animals. As an organization, we believe that people should not be brought into a situation where they are forced to break the law and risk charges being raised against them simply because, moved by empathy, they decided to help another living being. The root of the problem is still in the inactivity of the Veterinary Inspection, which in most cases reacts to reports by individuals or associations by helping the abuser instead of the animal, and by leaving the neglected and sick animal in the same situation even though this institution is the only one that has the legal capacity for putting an end to this torture, helping animals, and punishing the owner. It is also absurd that the Veterinary Inspection seems unable to see that the animal has been neglected, even though any layman can easily notice the bad shape it is in, and remains inactive even in cases when animal protection associations offer help in terms of taking over responsibility of the animal and giving it up for adoption, while the police is waiting for their call, ready to step in and take away the animal.

In case of this St Bernard dog, people who organized themselves and took the dog, despite the threats of the aggressive owners that caused the police to intervene, did the work of the Veterinary Inspection. It is shameful that the Ministry of Agriculture turns a deaf ear to the continuous complaints of people and the demands to establish an expert inspection that would efficiently protect the animals, rather than force people to take justice into their own hands. As long as the Veterinary Inspection refuses to take away the abused animals using the legal channels, preventing the owners from obtaining another animal, which after a while will be chained or tied to a laundry line (as in the case of St Bernard), a new sufferer waiting for help. It is unacceptable that people should be forced to abduct dogs instead of calling on the Veterinary Inspection, which proves that the system of animal protection does not function properly and that the laws are not implemented. These laws are there so that individuals and associations should not have to enter other people’s courtyards and break the law in order to save the animals, which is the duty of the Veterinary Inspection. It is important to change the system - animal owners should know that they will be punished if they violate the Animal Protection Act, that they must observe the decisions of the veterinary inspections and that they will have to account for their deeds before the judge if they decide to keep their animals in inadequate conditions.

However badly we wished, individuals and animal protection associations cannot save all the animals used in laboratory testing, locked in zoos, cows tortured in the milk industry, or dogs chained in courtyards... All these animals suffer each and every day, right in front of us or hidden from our eyes. We can help them by raising awareness about animal protection and by changing our own habits linked to the abuse and killing of animals, as well as by insisting that laws should be implemented.

We appeal to all who have seen an animal kept in inadequate conditions to report (including the animal's photograph, if possible) to the veterinary inspection in charge, according to the location, or by e-mail to: prijava@mps.hr. If you have witnessed the torturing and killing of an animal, you should call the police, which should raise charges with the District Attorney. These charges can also be raised by private persons.

Complaints and objections due to the lack of action by the institutions in charge, or because of their failure to implement the Animal Protection Act and other laws related to animal protection, as well as suggestions regarding a better legal protection for animals, can be addressed to the following institutions by e-mail:

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