The Massacre of Animals in Serbia

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During the past several weeks we have been contacted by countless Serbians concerned about the startling escalation of blatant animal abuse in their country, who requested that we tell their story while keeping their identities secret. Following, are facts and observations recounted by Serbian citizens to the writers of this article.

Ever since the end of the war, Serbia has been inundated with abandoned street animals, the majority of whom are brutally murdered. Like so many other places in the world, most citizens and civil authorities are not educated in humane animal issues and furthermore do not care. Sterilization (spay/neuter) is not practiced. The animal welfare laws that do exist are not enforced and improving animal welfare is not a priority of Serbian government officials.

While it is understandable that the country is still in transition due to its history of war, Serbian citizens reporting the injustices to us, rumor that ample documentation exists detailing rampant corruption not only among Serbian authorities but even within some of the non governmental organizations (NGOs) purportedly engaged in animal welfare. Thankfully, a small minority of compassionate people are working diligently to bring about positive change for both companion and farmed animals. Obviously and sadly, they cannot do it alone.

Ten years have passed since Serbian hostilities were laid to rest It is absurd and unacceptable to use the war as an excuse for abuse, neglect, indifference and inaction. Yet, torturing, poisoning and brutally killing dogs and cats is still occurring without punishment for the perpetrators of these vicious animal related crimes. The 'Serbian scene' is of growing concern to civilized people everywhere. Serbian animal welfare advocates have witnessed brutal trapping methods, the ruthless beatings of dogs to death and poisonings, resulting in agonizing deaths. Hunters wantonly shoot abandoned companion animals for sport.

Our sources estimate that the city of Belgrade savagely destroys about six thousand dogs annually. The city 'fathers' hire the 'professional pest' control firm, EKOSAN to exterminate the unwanted animals--innocent victims of human animal cruelty. The government claims that humane practices are exercised yet documentation and verbal reports from animal workers detail graphic images of dogs in Belgrade's 'OVCA' dog kill shelter being viciously destroyed. So much for official Serbian credibility!

Other Serbian observers report that many of the so called humane societies work in 'close' relationship with authorities who advocate destroying the stray animals. Witnesses have observed dogs and cats being destroyed using brutal methods by 'dog catchers'. 'Workers' at kill shelters lack training in humane animal care and control and legal issues pertaining to animal rights. Witnesses have observed dogs and cats being destroyed using viciousl methods within these same 'shelters'. There are also reports of the 'disappearances' of sterilization and euthanasia equipment. Furthermore, documentation is available showing dead dogs, skinned and heaped together - the victims of mass execution. All this, in a Belgrade shelter! Is this what the Serbian hierarchy terms humane euthanasia?

Equally as sad and reprehensible is the Belgrade zoo, one of the oldest zoos in Europe. Housing approximately two thousand animals, the zoo has acquired a notorious reputation due to the unacceptable treatment of the animals in their 'care'. The zoo director has close ties to the Serbian hunting lobby as well as Belgrade's city hall. Documentation is available from Serbian animal welfare advocates showing these animals confined within squalid living conditions and consequently ill and distressed. Many of these animals exhibit abnormal behavior, such as bar biting, over-grooming, self mutilation, head bashing, circling, leg chewing, etc. Furthermore, many animals that were born in the zoo throughout the years have disappeared. The zoo claimed that new tigers, bears and a hippo were born recently but the animals appear to have vanished.

For more information contact: or ARKA@eunet.yu.