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

  • The world’s seas and roads are awash with farm animals, with almost two billion pigs, cattle, sheep and chickens trucked or shipped as exports in 2017

    Continue reading...

  • Ahead of the World Economic Forum, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema urges governments to take definitive action on climate, deforestation and pollution

    Humanity will have given up on planet Earth if world leaders cannot reach an agreement this year to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and destruction of life-supporting ecosystems, the United Nation’s new biodiversity chief has warned.

    Elizabeth Maruma Mrema,the acting executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, has implored governments to ensure 2020 is not just another “year of conferences” on the ongoing ecological destruction of the planet, urging countries to take definitive action on deforestation, pollution and the climate crisis.

    Continue reading...

  • Environmentalists say incinerating a vast stockpile of firefighting foam containing harmful PFAS is putting communities at risk

    The Department of Defense is polluting the environment with toxic chemicals by continuing to incinerate a vast stockpile of firefighting foam in a move environmentalists say is in breach of new regulations.

    In a letter sent last week to the secretary of defense, Mark Esper, several environmental organizations argue the defense department is already out of compliance with new provisions regulating the disposal of the material and insist that it “immediately cease” incineration of the foam – called AFFF – which puts communities at risk.

    Continue reading...

  • Sainsbury’s, Lego and H&M feature on list that rewards shift to renewable energy and reducing emissions

    Sainsbury’s, Lego and H&M are among the businesses to make a prestigious A-list of companies that are deemed to be at the forefront of the charge to tackle the “existential” climate crisis.

    The list is compiled by non-profit group CDP which scores companies based on the environmental data they voluntarily disclose on its platform. Just 2% of the 8,000 companies it scores made the A-list, with Nestlé, Unilever, BT and Walmart among the 179 to make the cut. A focus on the climate emergency was not at the expense of business success, CDP said, with companies on the A-list also outperforming peers on the stock market by 5.5% a year.

    Continue reading...

  • Ghent’s transformation produced shorter journeys, cleaner air and a cycling explosion


    Birmingham – once, proudly, the UK’s “motorway city” – has announced plans to entice people out of cars and on to bikes and buses. If officials get their way, the city will be split into zones, and, rather than driving direct, motorists will have to use the ring road for all zone-to-zone journeys.

    Those travelling by foot and bicycle in the new Brum won’t be inconvenienced: their journeys will be simple and – with fewer cars – safer. With cars out of the way, bus journeys will become swifter and more reliable.

    Continue reading...

  • Experts say judgment is ‘tipping point’ that opens the door to climate crisis claims for protection

    It is unlawful for governments to return people to countries where their lives might be threatened by the climate crisis, a landmark ruling by the United Nations human rights committee has found.

    The judgment– which is the first of its kind – represents a legal “tipping point” and a moment that “opens the doorway” to future protection claims for people whose lives and wellbeing have been threatened due to global heating, experts say.

    Continue reading...

  • Awareness training across London led to ‘intelligence’ tip-offs, according to report

    A police force in London labelled Extinction Rebellion one of its “key threats” in a counter-terrorism assessment and provided awareness training on the climate crisis group across the capital, resulting in “intelligence” tip-offs.

    City of London police grouped the environmental protest movement alongside “far-right organisations” in an assessment of its counter-terrorism operations seen by the Guardian.

    Continue reading...

  • East Yorkshire councillors bemoan lack of national guidance and funding

    Ministers have been urged to step in to help families whose homes are at imminent risk of collapsing into the sea on the fastest-eroding coastline in northern Europe.

    Residents in the Yorkshire village of Skipsea were told this week that more than 20 homes were at risk of falling into the North Sea in the next 12 months, with hundreds vulnerable in the coming decades.

    Continue reading...

  • To try to combat the mountain of food waste, diabetic Andrew Mayers decided to live on what people chuck in the bin. Even if it’s two doughnuts and a cucumber

    My NHS dietician says that January is a dangerous month for diabetics such as me. The shops are full of Christmas leftovers: those high-calorie, nutrient-light foodstuffs, now for sale at massive discounts – confectionery collections, deep-filled mince pies, presentation tins of chocolate biscuits. You exert all that willpower over the festive period, and just when you think it’s safe to go back into the supermarkets …

    But in the last year I’ve pretty much stopped going into supermarkets. Or takeaways. Or fast-food joints. Not that I’ve stopped eating their products – I’ve restricted myself to hoovering up what other people bring on to the streets and squander: my own personal Deliveroo, free of charge.

    Continue reading...

    • Thousands of bodies washed up on North America’s Pacific coast
    • Study finds common murres probably died of starvation

    A million seabirds died in less than a year as a result of a giant “blob” of hot ocean, according to new research.

    A study released by the University of Washington found the birds, called common murres, probably died of starvation between the summer of 2015 and the spring of 2016.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds