12/19/14 A Letter to Judge Valentic Regarding the Verdict to Brankica Crosetti

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Municipal Criminal Court in Zagreb
FAO Ms. Rahela Valentic, judge
Ilica 207 (Selska)
10000 Zagreb

December 19, 2014

Dear Judge Valentic,

We are writing to you regarding your verdict in Brankica Crosetti's case. Ms Crosetti killed 46 dogs over the course of seven hours by injecting them with the deadly solution, T61. For this crime, you gave her an unacceptable seven months suspended sentence.

The Criminal Law states that a person who kills an animal without a valid reason can be punished with a prison sentence of up to one year. It is discouraging that you only gave Ms Crosetti a suspended sentence for the premeditated murder of 46 dogs. This mild verdict is devastating because you are sending a message to animal abusers and murderers that they will not go to prison for torturing and killing animals, especially if the perpetrator appears to be "of diminished responsibility" during the act of murder.

The Animal Protection Act forbids giving animals food or substances that causes pain, suffering, injuries, fear or death (Article 4, paragraph 2, item 14). Article 9 forbids killing animals except in extremely difficult cases such as, for example, if an animal is sick with an incurable illness, is in a lot of pain that cannot be relieved, if his/her basic life functions have stopped due to old age, among other similar circumstances. The owner of the animal can then, based on a veterinarian’s opinion, decide to have the animal put to sleep, which can only be done by "a vet or an expertly trained veterinary technician under the supervision of a vet."

From the facts stated above, it seems that in such cases the reasons to kill an animal only include the following: if the animal has a deadly disease, if the animal is suffering, or if the animal is a danger to others. An individual cannot kill an animal as they please or call a vet or a veterinary technician to do this for them, as it would seem from your statement. Brankica Crosetti consciously murdered 46 healthy dogs who were not a danger to anyone. For giving animals substances that cause them pain, suffering, injury, fear or death and for murdering animals, the Act prescribes a monetary fine from 50,000 HRK to 100,000 HRK for a legal entity and 10,000 HRK to 15,000 HRK for person responsible within the legal entity and for an individual.

The fact that you freed Nenad Dekanic who supplied Brankica Crosetti with the poison clearly illustrates the state of animal protection in Croatia. It is perplexing that Mr Dekanic was not aware that Ms Crosetti would use the substance T61 to end the dogs' lives considering that he gave an unlicensed individual a large amount of this deadly substance.

Healthy animals can only be put to sleep by a vet from a registered abandoned animal shelter after 60 days have passed and after the shelter has fulfilled other conditions such as veterinary care and adoption advertising or if there is no more room at the shelter to house the animal. The Act does not force shelters to do this, but it does unfortunately give them this option. This is yet another example of why it is important to remove this killing license.

With Ms Crosetti's case, you sent a message to the public essentially saying that it is okay to kill a dog (even a large number of dogs), even though this happens every day anyway and that it is very rare that an individual is convicted of committing this crime. Please ask yourself if you have served as a good example of the justice system by dealing out the lax verdict in Ms Crosetti's case. If the case was about the murder of 46 children who were killed in the same way as the dogs, you would surely not take into account the fact that the person who poisoned them had previously taken care of them and fed them regularly.

When the case involves abandoned animals, our society and our governing institutions consistently fail. Now, again, justice has not been served as the court has failed to correctly convict the perpetrator who killed 46 dogs. What's more, the court has failed to show the public that the killing of animals is an intolerable offense. It is unacceptable to give a symbolic sentence to a person who murdered such a large number of helpless abandoned, regardless of their psychological state.

The point of a sentence is to educate the public about how wrongdoings are punished. If Brankica Crosetti killed so many dogs and nothing happened to her, then why should anyone be concerned about the welfare of animals? With the court's verdict, you have essentially absolved animal abusers from punishment and responsibility. Volunteers are then left with the burden of caring for the many abused, abandoned, and neglected animals while the abusers go free.

Ms Crosetti's case shows that the system has failed and that the Animal Protection Act is not being adhered to. Ultimately her case shows that those who cause problems do not receive the proper punishment as prescribed by the Act including those who abandon animals, those who do not breed animals responsibility, and local communities who do not participate in castration, fostering, or education programs. The animal trade, in particular, continues to be unregulated, and is not condemned as shameful, even though many animals are bred and sold in large quantities while others die in the street or are killed at shelters.

As an organization that educates the public about adopting an ethical attitude toward animals and as one that initiates and encourages positive legal changes in animal protection cases, modelled on more advanced member states in the EU, we appeal to you to use your work to properly convict animal abuse and killing. Even though the legal provisions are clear, their implementation, where more empathy is shown to the animal abusers and murderers than toward the animals themselves, represents the devaluation of these same provisions and the need to justly convict the law-breakers.

As an organization that educates the public about ethical attitude towards animals and initiates and encourages positive legal changes in animal protection, modelled on more advanced members of the EU, we appeal to you to use your work to contribute to sanctioning animal abuse and killing. Even though the legal provisions are clear, their implementation, where more empathy is shown to the abusers and murderers of animals than towards animals, represents devaluation of the same provisions and the need to justly sanction the law-breakers.

We remain at your disposal for future collaboration on situations where laws that protect animals have been broken.

Best regards,

Luka Oman

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