05/05/17 Hunter Convicted for Shooting a Dog for the First Time in Croatian History

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Animal Friends requests the removal of an antiquated, controversial provision of the Hunting Act which is currently being drafted

- Legal uncertainty: Hunters deliberately misconstrue the term "remove" in order to kill dogs and cats

For the first time in Croatian history, a hunter has been convicted for shooting a a pet! The pet in question is a dog named Brik, who was shot by a hunter at the end of March 2016. The animal barely survived internal injuries of the chest, stomach, lung and liver, only thanks to the promptness of the surgery. Fortunately, Brik managed to successfully recover after a long treatment.

At the beginning of this year, the unlawful hunter was convicted for the criminal offense of killing or torturing an animal. However, his lenient and conditional sentence - only eight months imprisonment with three years of probation - casts a shadow on this ruling.

This is one of many similar cases in which hunters have abused a provision of the Hunting Act which states that a hunter has a right to remove unsupervised dogs and cats from the hunting grounds, if they are found further than 300m away from the guardian's house. For years, Animal Friends has pointed out that hunters arbitrarily interpret the term "to remove" as "to kill," resulting in the deaths of dogs, cats and domestic animals out of sheer arrogance - and often witnessed by children, animals' caretakers and random passers-by. Unfortunately, most of the targeted animals are not as lucky as Brik.

The ruling in Brik's case states that the permit to remove dogs and cats does not imply killing: "It is fully inconsequential if it is the hunting grounds, the grounds where hunting cannot be allowed unless with special permits, or if it is an inhabited area where any hunting is prohibited - because shooting a dog which is a pet, without a cause and a justified reason, is never allowed anywhere."

Luka Oman from Animal Friends Croatia points out that: "It is extremely important that the new Hunting Act, currently being drafted, uses the term 'transfer' instead of 'remove.' Better yet, following Slovenia's example where culling, daunting and hunting animals is prohibited both in inhabited areas as well as in nature, this provision should be completely erased, as it obviously creates great legal uncertainty, and the interpretation of it is left to the individuals, which is unacceptable."

This change is crucial to prevent similar cases from relying on the individual assessment of the judges and becoming difficult battles for justice, like the one Brik’s caretaker endured: "I found myself in a very tough situation, specially due to the fact that certain institutions failed in doing their job on time. When the lowest rank institutions failed I realized that, if I don't do anything about it, this will be just another one in the line of arrogant individuals' victories combined with institutions', which didn't want to be bothered with the problem, inertia."

Animal Friends invites the public to report illegal hunter behavior and to appeal to the ministry in charge to change or erase the provision in question within the new Hunting Act.

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