Opinion of Animal Friends on the Final Proposal for the Animal Protection Act
- We demand the modification of Article 2, Subsection 1, which reads as follows:
(1) This Bill applies to all animal vertebrates.
This formulation fails to define animals as sensitive beings, i.e. that the Bill applies to all animals with a developed sensitivity to touch and a nervous system that registers stimuli causing pain.
- We demand the modification of Article 2, Subsection 4, which reads as follows:
(4) This Bill does not apply to the management of hunting preserves and game, which excludes:
1. Breeding and keeping animals used for assistance in hunting;
2. Breeding and keeping animals for hunting purposes outside of the hunting preserve.
Neither of the quoted subsections protects animals in hunting preserves in accordance with the regulations of this Bill, which means that a large number of animals is excluded from appropriate protection and that vast areas in Croatia are placed beyond the jurisdiction in this respect, which endangers not only wildlife, but also companion animals that occasionally go astray into the hunting preserves, since they are no longer protected according to this regulation. Therefore, we demand an explanation: why are wild animals excluded from this regulation and which regulation should protect them in accordance with the Bill? In what cases is this law allegedly colliding with other laws and why has the current Animal Welfare Act never had any problems with that? How should pets and domestic animals that go astray into hunting preserves be protected and why should they be excluded from this regulation? We demand that this article should be modified so as to protect all animals in an appropriate way by the Croatian legal system.
- We demand the modification of Article 2, Subsection 5, which reads as follows:
(5) This Bill does not apply to fishing.
If the Bill protects fish, it is paradoxical that they should not be protected in fishing, since there is no law that protects them appropriately within the regulations of this Bill. We demand an explanation: why does the Bill include pig farms and at the same time exclude fish farms, i.e. which regulation protects fish on the water farms appropriately and which law should protect fish in free waters? We demand that this article should be modified so as to protect all animals in an appropriate way by the Croatian legal system.
- We demand the modification of Article 4, Subsection 8, which reads as follows:
Organize dog races on hard surfaces
We see no reason why dog races should be allowed on any surfaces, given the fact that the greatest cruelty inflicted upon animals is precisely the organization of such contests, breeding dogs for them, and the fact that they are held exclusively for betting purposes. Dog races are not comparable to horse races, even though horses are often tortured there as well, since dogs selected to become race dogs are usually kept in cages and only rarely live longer than 4 or 5 years, since they suffer from wounds and illnesses caused by the manner of their breeding, race preparations, transportations, and races as such. In the USA, where the problem of dog races is extremely acute, 34 states have legally prohibited dog races on all surfaces. Therefore, we demand an explanation why such cruelty against animals, and even towards the species that the citizens are most sensitive about, is not prohibited in entirety. Given the circumstance that the facts of treating race dogs have been recognized by the legal system in the countries where such races were held for a long time, we do not see why such cruelty should be allowed to happen in Croatia and why it is permitted exclusively for acquiring profit by betting. We demand that this article should be altered.
- We demand the modification of Article 57, Subsection 4, which reads as follows:
(4) An animal from the animal shelter that is not returned to its owner and cannot be further kept or given to adoption should be put to death after 30 days.
It is unjustifiable that animals should be put to death in the shelter after only 30 days. It abolishes the very purpose of such shelters and impedes organized adoption of animals, especially in summer months, when shelters should serve to protect animals collected from the street, which have been abandoned by their irresponsible owners. Therefore, we demand an explanation: why is this time span so short and why requests of animal welfare associations, members of parliament, and citizens are constantly ignored, when it is with their money that the shelters are built and they refuse to have it spent for killing animals? They wish to see the animals adopted, which is almost impossible in the summer months with a deadline of only 30 days, since in such a short period it is impossible to organize a program of adopting animals, which is crucial in order that the shelter should have a proper fluctuation. Even though the Bill does not say that animals should be put to death, it is clear that what the Bill permits easily becomes the rule and therefore we demand that this 30-days period should be prolonged on the basis of these arguments. We demand that this article should be altered.
- We demand the modification of Article 72, which runs as follows:
This Bill will be published in Official Gazette and become legally effective on January 1, 2007, except for Article 19, Subsection 3, which will become legally effective on January 1, 2008, Article 39, Subsection 3 regarding the keeping of milking cows on a leash, which will become legally effective on January 1, 2012, and Article 4, item 23, which will become legally effective on January 1, 2017.
These transitory periods are too long, given the fact of the situation in Croatia and the needs for urgent application of the Bill. We demand an explanation: why is this so and why is there a transitory period, especially for breeding animals for purposes of fur production? Regarding this regulation, we are of the opinion that the suggested five years are definitely a sufficiently long period and we do not see any reason why it should be prolonged to as many as ten, in which period significantly larger changes will take place in the ethical and legal reasoning of Europe and the world. We are of the opinion that the transitory periods should be reduced to the minimum for the sake of making the Bill efficient, while the transitory period for the prohibition of breeding animals for fur should be reduced to five, or at least no longer than seven years. We demand that this article should be altered.
- We are of the opinion that solving the complex problem of protecting abandoned animals should begin on the state level rather than be left to the decision of local authorities. Therefore, we demand that the Bill should include mandatory microchip identification of all cats and dogs and enforce the duty of controlling the procreation of companion animals. Therefore, we demand an explanation: which regulation of the Bill will force the local authorities to create a program of pet protection that will have to include mandatory microchip identification and spaying/neutering? We demand that such regulations should be also included in the Bill.
- We are of the opinion that permanent keeping dogs on chain should be prohibited, given the intense physical and mental pain that it inflicts upon the animals. It is well known that keeping dogs on chain causes physical pain and especially psychological disturbances and suffering, with possible aggressive behavior as result. However, this Bill does not prohibit keeping dogs on chain and therefore we demand an explanation: which regulations in this Bill will enable veterinary inspectors to intervene, prevent and sanction those who keep their dogs permanently chained and how will the local authorities regulate that? We are of the opinion that such a prohibition, at least partial, should not be missing from the Bill, since the problem of keeping dogs in such conditions is overall customary in Croatia. We suggest the already proposed definition of this subsection of the Bill:
It is prohibited to keep dogs on chain or tied in another way permanently, except if they are kept on a prolonged wire leash that enables maximum movement and if it is done exclusively for their own protection or for the protection of other animals and humans.
We suggest the inclusion of this regulation in the Bill.
- We are of the opinion that the Bill should prohibit experiments on wild animals included in the CITES list of endangered species, since Articles 4 and 7 of the Directive of the EU Council 86/609 EEC regulate that all member states should prohibit using wild animals included in the CITES list of endangered species for experiments. We inquire an explanation: why is there no such regulation in this Bill? We suggest the inclusion of this regulation in the Bill.
- We are of the opinion that experimenting on primates should be prohibited, since present research has shown that apes can solve complicated problems, communicate in complex forms, and have an extraordinary capability of remembering past events and anticipating future ones. They use their intelligence primarily in order to shape and understand relations with other members of their social group, just like the humans do. Tests done on apes have shown that they experience mental breakdowns and suffering if they are deprived from contact with their group and its support, or when they are isolated in small cages, just like humans. Apes are used primarily in toxicity experiments, even though there is no law prescribing their use. However, crucial physiological differences between apes and humans mean that, by experimenting on apes, we can gather information on them rather than on human beings. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that decades on experimenting on primates have not resulted in discoveries of new medicines in many fields. Experiments on primates have no place in the modern, civilized society and Europe is working intensely on introducing such a prohibition. We demand an explanation: why is this regulation not included in the Bill? We are of the opinion that the Bill should include the prohibition of experimenting on primates, as well as the prohibition of importing primates and their young from wilderness for purposes of scientific research. We suggest the inclusion of this regulation in the Bill.