Animal Rescue System Urgently Needed

Published in Animals

The law on the Protection of Animals (Zakon o zaštiti životinja) is relatively recent, dating back only to 2006. It is based on European Union directives dating from 1983, with several updates to the present time. The Croatian law was updated and amended in 2013. When this final text was debated and accepted by Parliamentarians in February 2013, there was a strong recommendation that public awareness of the protection of animals had to be raised. 

Croatian Labour member Branko Vukšić stated that bringing the Croatian law into line with European directives on paper was not enough to guarantee that practices would not remain 'Balkan'. He defined the Croatian law on the Protection of Animals as the most contravened in Croatia ("najgaženijim u Hrvatskoj"). In a country where so many laws are respected more in the breach than the practice, that is damning. Sadly, Mr. Vukšić's statement was not political rhetoric but the exact truth.

Voluntary organizations for the protection of animals, such as the registered charity (udruga) Noina Arka (Noah's Ark) and the Zaklada za zaštitu životinja Split (The Split Animal Protection Foundation), rely heavily on public support, but the amount available is not comparable to other European countries. For domestic pets, there are plenty of regulations governing how people should keep them according to the law (Pravilno držanje životinja). But ensuring the welfare of the animals is woefully neglected. If an animal is mistreated, one has the right to call in the inspectors, who will come and examine the situation and take whatever action they think is appropriate according to current laws. For Hvar, the inspectors have to come from Split. Dogs can be removed from the owners or put down. The owners might be prosecuted. However, prosecutions have been few, and even fewer have resulted in conviction. In the Split Civil Court, for instance, the twenty cases of cruelty to animals lodged between January 2006 and 2013 were dismissed as unfounded. The organizations for animal protection in Split have been justifiably concerned, not to say outraged. It is hoped that as the law has been tightened since January 2013 to allow for one-year prison sentences for those found guilty of animal cruelty, prosecutions will be prepared more carefully and offenders will be judged more stringently.

A major problem is the lack of adequate animal shelters. There are far too few around Croatia, and most have difficulty providing conditions according to the law. For some time there were two shelters in Split which served a wide area, and which were the nearest available to Hvar. They were both closed down by Inspectors in 2011, despite the protests of animal-lovers. The animals in the shelters were transported to the refuge in Šibenik, which was now the closest to Hvar. Any animals which did not find homes within 60 days were put down. Dr. Zdenka Filipović is a veterinary surgeon in Split who ran one of the two Split centres which were closed. Following the closure, she continued to help find homes for unwanted animals, and set up the Split Animal Protection Foundation (Zaklada za zaštitu životinja Split) with the primary aim of opening another rescue centre based on a 'No-Kill' policy which would ensure that animals in the home were not put down after 60 days, but would be kept until they found a home or died naturally. This would be the first of its kind in Croatia. Building the home in Kaštel Sućurac just outside Split was started in 2013, but the opening was delayed when the Inspector refused to issue the necessary Usage Permit on the grounds that various aspects of the building did not conform to the legal norms.

At present, it seems that animal rescue centres in Croatia face a variety of problems:

  • there are too few
  • they are overloaded with the numbers of unwanted animals
  • they often cannot provide satisfactory conditions for the rescued animals
  • if they fail to comply with the legal standards and requirements, they are closed down

It is certainly right for the Inspectors to close down centres which do not maintain proper standards for conditions and care. But what this means for the animals involved is death in most cases. More support is needed for the existing rescue centres to provide everything needed according to the law. And we urgently need a national movement to set up adequate animal rescue centres throughout Croatia.

Unwanted animals on Hvar may be left to roam or killed. An owner on Hvar who wants to abandon an animal is obviously not going to spend time and money taking it to the mainland to the shelter in Šibenik. Puppies and kittens are often left close to camp sites or holiday homes during the summer season, or outside the schools at other times. Some of them find good homes and survive.

Sara was abandoned with several other siblings somewhere in the hills above Jelsa. They were probably a whole litter of unwanted puppies. They wandered around the countryside for days before most of them found homes. Sara, a sort-of German Shepherd - well, she almost looks the part -  thrived and grew from being a small bundle of fur into a fine, happy animal. Several years on, she divides her time between Hvar and Sardinia.

Billy was abandoned in the village of Pitve in July 2009. He tried to make friends with some visitors, who fed him for a few days. However, being a young dog, probably less than a year old, he loved to play with shoes and other personal items, so they quickly grew tired of him. From his behaviour he had probably been in a family with young children. He may have been dumped because he grew to a big size and therefore became expensive to feed, or because he was destructive in the house, never having been properly trained. He was an exceptionally affectionate dog who obviously craved human love. He found a good home in Zavala, but his new owner could not control him when he was out and about. Fortunately, during the summer season some German tourists saw Billy and fell in love with him. He went off happily to a new home in Germany with a large garden and plenty of countryside to romp in. 

Cats are abandoned even more frequently than dogs. Nana the kitten was found with her little brother and sister near the cemetery in Hvar Town by Marina and Rihard, animal lovers from Italy, in July 2012. They brought them to Pitve, having already discovered on a previous visit two years before that some of the villagers were animal lovers. The three quickly settled in to their new environment and decided that the safest place to stay when they were not being fed was inside a drystone wall.

That remained their home until they grew too big, when they discovered the other possible feeding stations and boltholes available to them. When they were old enough, Nana and her sister were sterilized. All three grew to adulthood, but sadly Nana's brother disappeared without trace and her sister was killed on the road by a careless driver going too fast through the village. Nana went missing during the summer, raising fears that she too had died, but she re-appeared after the holiday season, so she had obviously taken advantage of some kindhearted visitors to feed elsewhere, as cats do.

Individuals on Hvar who love animals do as much as is humanly possible to help the waifs and strays. There is obviously an urgent need to establish a system for caring for them and finding them homes. Hvar cannot solve this problem in isolation. An efficient animal welfare system must be established throughout Croatia. The movement needs to start at the top, with central government leading the way and encouraging support from local administrations.

© Vivian Grisogono 2013

 

You are here: Home animal articles Animal Rescue System Urgently Needed

Eco Environment News feeds

  • More than 200 barriers were taken down last year, helping to restore fish migration routes and boost biodiversity and climate resilience

    At least 239 barriers, including dams and weirs, were removed across 17 countries in Europe in 2021, in a record-breaking year for dam removals across the continent.

    Spain led the way, with 108 structures taken out of the country’s rivers. “Our efforts to expand dam removals across Europe are gathering speed,” said Pao Fernández Garrido, project manager for the World Fish Migration Foundation, who helped produce Dam Removal Europe’s annual report.

    Continue reading...

  • Analysis: Highs likely to reach mid-30s celsius in Spain and France, 10C above normal, and may break 40C

    The exceptional heatwave conditions across parts of India and Pakistan over the past few weeks have been in the news – although the region has in fact endured extreme heat since March. Through the next few days, although nowhere near as extreme as in India and Pakistan, anomalous warmth will be affecting large portions of western Europe in the first significant heat of spring.

    Throughout April, large parts of Europe experienced below-normal temperature trends, with winds often emanating from a north-easterly direction. However, over the past week or so, weather patterns have rearranged to encourage more of a south or south-westerly feed of air across Europe, and temperatures have been picking up as a result.

    Continue reading...

  • Friends of the Earth says there will be no market for Whitehaven coal as Europe’s steelmakers move to ‘green steel’

    A new coalmine proposed for Cumbria is likely to be redundant before it even opens because the steelmakers that are its target market are moving so rapidly away from fossil fuels, analysis from green campaigners claims.

    Steelmakers across Europe are moving to “green steel”, which uses renewable energy and modern techniques to avoid the need for coking coal of the type that the proposed mine in Whitehaven would produce.

    Continue reading...

  • Duisky, Scottish Highlands: The process of harvesting the mussels we eat starts with a morning boat ride on a milky loch

    While most other crofters are minding their fields for lambs, we are watching the water. Loch Eil reflects the soft grey clouds rolling down the corries, but closer inspection reveals milky drifts below its surface. The mussels are spawning.

    Mytilus edulis release sperm and eggs into the water, making a swimming soup of fertilisation that births billions of mussel larvae. These infinitesimal shellfish float freely with the current and tide.

    Continue reading...

  • Simon Fairlie responds to George Monbiot’s article on farming and sustainable food production

    George Monbiot (On a vegan planet Britain could feed 200 million people, 13 May) quotes me as calculating that “while a diet containing a moderate amount of meat, dairy and eggs would require the use of 11m hectares of land (4m of which would be arable), a vegan diet would demand a total of just 3m”.

    He doesn’t point out that these figures relate to chemical agriculture using artificial fertilisers and pesticides – practices that he later says he doesn’t support. I also made estimates for organic vegan agriculture with green manure being ploughed directly into the soil, and for organic husbandry in which green manure is fed to dairy cows whose manure is composted, while pigs and chickens are substantially fed on food waste. Both systems require about 6.5m hectares of arable land to provide a healthy diet for everyone in the country. The vegan system is slightly more efficient in its land use, while the livestock system provides a more varied diet.

    Continue reading...

  • Ministers instead urged to focus on reducing flights and halting airport expansion to cut carbon emissions

    The UK government’s “jet zero” plan to eliminate carbon emissions from aviation relies on unproven or nonexistent technology and “sustainable” fuel, and is likely to result in ministers missing their legally binding emissions targets, according to a report.

    The study from Element Energy, which has worked for the government and the climate change committee in the past, says instead of focusing on such unreliable future developments, ministers should work to reduce the overall number of flights and halt airport expansion over the next few years.

    Continue reading...

  • Alok Sharma says global crises should increase, not diminish, nations’ determination to cut greenhouse gases made in Glasgow climate pact

    Failure to act on the promises made at the Glasgow Cop26 climate summit last year would be “an act of monstrous self-harm”, the UK’s president of the conference will warn today in Glasgow.

    Alok Sharma, the cabinet minister who led the UK-hosted summit that ended with agreement to limit global heating to 1.5C, will say that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and rising energy and food prices, have changed the global outlook drastically in the six months since.

    Continue reading...

  • EU concern over ‘cruel’ practice of taking blood from mares to create hormone products that increase reproduction in farmed animals

    Iceland is under pressure to ban the production of a hormone extracted from pregnant horses, a practice that has been described as “cruel” and “animal abuse”.

    The hormone is used by farmers across the UK and Europe to increase reproduction in pigs, cows and other female farm animals.

    Pregnant Mare Serum Gonadotropin (PMSG) is extracted from pregnant horses in Iceland during the summer at “blood farms”, before being converted into powder and shipped around the world.

    Continue reading...

  • Fatih Birol says ‘carbon bombs’, revealed in Guardian investigation, will not solve global energy crisis

    The world’s leading energy economist has warned against investing in large new oil and gas developments, which would have little impact on the current energy crisis and soaring fuel prices but spell devastation to the planet.

    Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), was responding to an investigation in the Guardian that revealed fossil fuel companies were planning huge “carbon bomb” projects that would drive climate catastrophe.

    Continue reading...

  • As awareness grows of the environmental impact of the cut-flower industry, new growers are selling sustainable blooms straight from their fields

    Close to the River Teme, in the shadow of the Malvern Hills, with three farm cats playing around our feet, Meg Edmonds is showing me around an old barn that she uses to store, arrange and wrap her flowers. It is busy with colour and life. There are tulips of every shade in crates, narcissi and ranunculi in buckets and vases. There are pots of snakeshead fritillary just outside the door, and a vase of blue and white anemones by the window, in water, so that Edmonds can make a note of how many times they open and close in the sun before they’re over. “I want to be able to tell people that information,” she says. They’re currently on number four. She pulls out a huge green stem that looks as if it has been ripped out of Jurassic Park. It turns out to be from an artichoke plant. There are dried artichokes elsewhere, their fluffy innards bursting out, to be used in dried arrangements over winter. We walk around the farm. Edmonds points out shrubs and trees that have ended up in her work, from a sumptuous trailing rosemary bush to the flowering branches of a crab apple tree.

    Everything here is useful. It has also been grown within walking distance, either on the family farm, or on a patch of land next to the farm shop, at the other end of the village, where Edmonds’s flowers sell in big, beautiful bunches. Edmonds and her husband farm livestock and vegetables on his family farm (they are third generation), and converted to organic practices 20 years ago. After moving away from selling the farm’s livestock to supermarkets, in favour of selling in their own farm shop, she started to think that there might be a way of doing the same for flowers. “I didn’t realise that there was this burgeoning market for local seasonal, mixed, beautiful things, like I had in my garden and like my friends raved over,” she says.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds