01/30/15 Medo is Barking Because He is Chained
Animal Friends Croatia on court decision stating that the dog’s caregiver must keep the dog indoors at night
In recent days, there has been a lot of fuss over the Municipal Court of Pula’s decision, which on the basis of the neighbor's complaint about the "incessant dog barking" issued an interim measure prescribing that the caregiver "keep the dog closed inside the residential building on that property, every day from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am the following day."
The public has been told that the Court banned the dog from barking and that he and his owner have to suffer and fear large fines. Latter media information revealed that the dog was chained, although his caregiver claims that he is on a long rope and that it would be risky to keep the dog unchained since he could jump over the fence and attack somebody. Moreover, even though he can keep the dog in the house with people during the night, the caregiver states that he takes him into the "summer kitchen", where he has arranged for him a place to sleep. Television footage shows that the “summer kitchen” is actually a cold and dark shed.
With cases like this, Animal Friends Croatia wish to point out the necessity of responsible animal care. Caregiver's duty is to take care of the dog, providing all the necessary conditions for a normal life in accordance with the dog's needs. In the legal sense, animals are objects, therefore the Court in this case decided on how the owner should handle the dog in order to solve the problem with the neighbor and manage the dog’s behavior. It is illogical and ridiculous to demand from the dog to stop barking, nevertheless, the responsibility of the caregiver is to provide the dog with all the necessary conditions, as well as to ensure his coexistence with people.
If a child or a dog produces unbearable noises at night, disturbing the neighbors, it is the caregiver's duty to solve the problem by taking him or her inside the house, which does not include locking the dog in a garage, basement or a shed. The dog will feel better and will not bark if he is beside his caregiver. The difference should be made between occasional barking, which for dogs is normal, and the incessant barking beneath somebody's window, which affects the coexistence of people and animals. It is a fact that allowing the dog to stay inside the house with the caregivers would be beneficial for both the neighborly relations and the dog himself.
This case is about the neighborly squabble at the expense of the dog, and the fact is that the Court should have taken into consideration the damage to the dog. Medo is a young dog, who is less than three years old, and by keeping him chained, the caregivers have obviously not ensured him enough movement, running or socialization, nor do they let him inside the house, so it is possible that due to the lack of stimulation, the dog reacts by barking more frequently than dogs would do normally. If the barking goes on for the whole night making unbearable noise, then the Court's decision could be a positive step forward, enabling Medo to stay in the house with his caregivers at least during the night.
The danger of this court decision lies in the fact that it can be interpreted as the prohibition for the dog to bark at night, as well in other situations, which can be misused in other very frequent neighborly quarrels.
An important step for the dog would be if the court prescribed the obligatory socialization of the dog and the obligation of ensuring enough movement for him, which would improve the conditions in which Medo lives, resulting in a happier dog who barks less. Unfortunately, this is unrealistic to expect, especially in rural areas of Croatia, given the fact that there is a great lack of awareness about animal needs, and where chaining a dog is more of a rule than an exception.
Animal Friends Croatia point out that in Medo's case it is important to root out the problem, which in this case is a chained dog. Croatian Animal Protection Act prohibits "restricting the movement of animals in a way that causes pain, suffering, injury or fear to them", and chaining a dog certainly relates to that. Keeping a dog on chain is a physical and psychological abuse which leads to permanent suffering of animal and can cause aggression in dogs, where frequent barking is one of the ways a dog attempts to draw attention to himself and his need for company and stimulation.
Animal Friends Croatia started a petition to ban permanent keeping of dogs on chains, and the Organization's proposal for banning this has already been accepted in the draft of Croatian Animal Protection Act, but was later rejected without explanation.