12/12/13 Against Limiting the Number of Animals in Slunj

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Town of Slunj
c/o mayor Zeljko Rendulic
Trg dr. Franje Tudjmana 12
47240 Slunj

December 12, 2013

Dear Mr. Rendulic,

We bring to your attention a decision taken by the council of the town of Slunj by which the town of Slunj prohibits holding more than two dogs and two cats. This decision is contrary to the Animal Protection Act and the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia and we are asking you to submit a proposal to revise the Decision on City Council of the town of Slunj.

The fact that similar provisions were adopted by some cities in Croatia does not make it legal and proper, on the contrary, it extends illegality and places the town of Slunj next to the cities that do not care about basic human rights, laws and most importantly humanity and justice, and we believe that that is not in the interest of you, as a Mayor.

The only proper way of limiting the number of companion animals is one determined by the conditions under which animals are kept, meaning someone may have good conditions for more than one animal and someone else has no good conditions for any.

The Decision states:

Article 1

"By this Decision, the Decision on conditions and manner of keeping the pets and the treatment of abandoned and lost animals is changing ("Messenger of Karlovac County" 40/12) in the way that in the Article 19 paragraph 2 behind the street name Trg Zrinskih i Frankopana is added, "and the village Rastoke itself, is allowed to hold a maximum of two adult dogs and two cats."

This is contrary to the Croatian Constitution; the relevant provisions of the Croatian Constitution are as follows:

Article 14 paragraph 1

"All persons in the Republic of Croatia shall enjoy rights and freedoms, regardless of race, color, gender, language, religion, political or other conviction, national or social origin, property, birth, education, social status or other characteristics."

The disputed provision places any citizen who wishes to have more than three dogs as pets, for personal reasons, at an unfair disadvantage in comparison to persons who keep other animals. These dog owners are discriminated against solely on the basis of the humane reasons for keeping their pets, and not because of their impact on the public interest or public order.

Registered dog and cat owners with more than two dogs and cats in their possession respect all positive regulations pertaining to the care of animals and public order and, by taking care of unwanted, sick and injured animals in their own backyards, also protect public interest. These owners are deprived of the constitutionally guaranteed right to equality in executing ownership rights in relation to other owners of horses, cats, guinea pigs, or the like.

Article 16 paragraph 1

"Freedoms and rights may only be curtailed by law in order to protect the freedoms and rights of others, the legal order, and public morals and health."

The town of Slunj Council has no authority to limit ownership rights of individuals with its decision, which it does in Article 19 paragraph 2 by determining the number of companion animals an individual may own. Limiting the number of companion animals owned by a citizen is not regulated by Croatian law.

Also, there is no justification for the invasion of freedom and rights stated in Article 16 paragraph 1 and 2 of the Constitution.

If all dogs are microchipped, (i.e., registered with Ministry of Agriculture ownership records), vaccinated as required by the Ordinance of said Ministry and kept, in accordance with the provisions of the disputed Decision, in an enclosed space with an evident warning sign, this subsequently show that they in no way constitute a threat to the freedom or rights of other people, the public order, public morality or public health.

Furthermore, Article 48 paragraph 1 states the following:

"The right of ownership shall be guaranteed."

Presently, within the Croatian legal system (although this is, from a humane point of view, a hardly defendable thesis), animals have the legal status of things and are the subjects of property rights. The Constitution protects these rights in the same manner as any other property or intellectual property rights. The town of Slunj will cause non-pecuniary damages to the animal owners by taking the dogs or cats with no legal basis, all based on the disputed Decision.

One may conclude, then, that the town of Slunj usurped authority through its regulation by restricting or rescinding property, with no indemnification, which is a violation of Article 50 paragraph 1 of the Constitution which belongs exclusively to the Croatian Parliament:

"In the interest of the Republic of Croatia, ownership may be restricted or rescinded by law, subject to indemnification equal to the market value of the pertinent property."

The Animal Protection Act states in Article 58 paragraph 4, the following:

7 The protection of companion animals

Article 58

4) The requirements for and the manner of keeping companion animals, the manner of controlling their reproduction, the requirements for and the manner of keeping tethered dogs, and the manner of handling lost and abandoned animals shall be prescribed by competent municipality or city authorities, except in regards to companion animals belonging to a protected species in accordance with separate legislation.

Therefore, in Article 58 paragraph 4, it is evident that no one word in said provision authorizes local governments to determine the number of animals owned by individuals. The town Council thus, exceeded its authority and directly transgressed provisions of Article 5 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Constitution which read:

"In the Republic of Croatia, laws shall comply with the Constitution. Other regulations shall comply with the Constitution and law.

All persons shall be obliged to abide by the Constitution and law and respect the legal order of the Republic of Croatia."

Furthermore, and as reads the subtitle above the afore-mentioned provision, it is clear that the legal authority was granted solely for the purpose of promoting the protection of animals and not to suspend or restrict the statutory rights and liberties granted to their owners by the Constitution.

The provisions of Article 19 paragraph 2 of the Decision are inconsistent with the provisions of the Animal Protection Act, which regulates the handling of animals, since the law itself does not envisage the possibility of abandoning or killing animals which are cared for and whose needs are met, let alone seizing ownership under the general act of a local government.
Furthermore, Article 9 of the same Act stipulates the conditions for when an animal may be killed, but does not provide the possibility of killing an animal because it is deemed, by the local government, a surplus within a household which is the intention of passing this unconstitutional and illegal provision.

In reality, there are individuals who abuse and hold animals in unsatisfactory conditions just as there are individuals and families with excellent living conditions that can provide a happy and fulfilled life to a larger number of companion animals. So, the only valid criterion in keeping companion animals should be to satisfy conditions already set by law which state the adequate conditions for keeping animals and the ethical treatment of them.

We are open for further questions and cooperation and we expect correction of this provision, in the interest of the animals and citizens of the town of Slunj.


Luka Oman

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