As you know from our previous blog, on 30 June, 2016, the Cantonal Government of Sarajevo issued a decision which requires the utility company KJKP Rad Hygienic Service (or “P.C. Rad”) in collaboration with Veterinary Station and supported by the police, to remove all stray dogs they find on the street. And also you know there are not in fact enough places new dogs in the already overpopulated, poorly maintained and inhumane shelters. This removal of strays from the city will not solve a problem which is the direct result of owners either letting their unsterilised dogs free-roam, or because they abandon their unsterilised dogs.
Dalida Kozlic L.L.B, lawyer and activist, Aky Coowa, activist writes:
On Monday 25th July, a peaceful demonstration called “Stop killing the dogs“ was held in front of the Sarajevo Cantonal Government. Those who attended requested the prime minister to end the illegal activities of the public company KJKP Rad (Hygienic Service). Amela Turalic, animal activist, took an opportunity when Mr. Elmedin Konakovic, Prime Minister of the Sarajevo Canton, was passing by and asked him for a meeting. He agreed. Previously, no one from the Cantonal Government had replied to a letter sent by a group of Sarajevo citizens for such a meeting.
On 26th July, a few dog lovers and rescuers from Bosnia and Herzegovina met with Mr. Elmedin Konakovic and with the Minister for Utility and Infrastructure Senad Hasanspahić. It was the first time that the Prime Minister had such a meeting with several people defending dogs. The group was represented by the following people: Berina Alihodzic, Deputy Chief Cantonal Prosecutor, Amela Turalić from the NGO sector, Dalida Kozlic, lawyer, Elzemina Bajrović from the UNDP, an employee of the UN in the role of a concerned citizen and Almir Kuduz, owner of King pension.
Prime minister Elmedin Konakovic’s attitude initially clearly envisaged a “meeting with filthy activists/ demonstrators”. He began by insisting the situation with dogs was very alarming, that dogs were aggressive and infected, attacking pregnant women and so on. He said he would solve the problem of overpopulation of stray dogs by mass catching of stray dogs and that he wants to change the law immediately so dogs can be euthanised after 15 days in shelters. He stated all sick dogs should be euthanized. He seemed to have just one aim: to remove all dogs from Sarajevo. Apparently, he has chosen this illegal way to do it and he wants to implement illegal practices.
The Prime Minister had a strong support from the Minister for Utility and Infrastructure Senad Hasanspahić,
The team presented their arguments to the Prime Minister showing they were not “filthy activists” but serious people coming from recognised institutions.
Elzemina from the UNDP talked about UNDP programmes regarding curbing stray animal populations and also stated that the UNDP BiH Representative gave her approval to attend the meeting (the Prime Minister had previously mentioned his collaboration with all ambassadors on the subject saying that they all agreed with him…). Almir Kuduz spoke, stating amongst other things the need to simplify and make affordable the process of transporting Bosnian dogs abroad for adoption; the fact that government should assist citizens and all people who care for stray dogs so it is easier to run legal pensions.
Prime minister Elmedin Konakovic booked another meeting with the group in a week.
The intention of the group was to raise the question of the implementation of the decision of the 30th June. Since the Government and Prime Minister keep claiming this has been done legally, the group wanted to seek permission to have access to all dog catchers services (including all vehicles at the street) and to be allowed to follow the whole procedure from catching the dog to the placement in shelters or eventual euthanasia. Therefore, this issue will be raised at the forthcoming meeting with the Prime Minister on Thursday.
The Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals is the main legislation regarding treatment of animals in Bosnia. Authorities of one canton must implement the Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals and it is a criminal offence to finance activities that are done in accordance with illegal decisions of low level authorities.
As you can see from the pictures, dog catchers are very active. They catch dogs even when they are asleep. Dogs who manage to escape being caught appear traumatised. There are three teams of dog catchers, working in two shifts. Dogs are taken to Cantonal veterinary station Sarajevo where rescuers and other people can rescue caught dogs, and also from this station some dogs are sent to Praca shelter mentioned above. However, dogs are also being taken to the headquarters of KJKP Rad where no one – no rescuers or animal advocates – can enter, only employees of KJKP Rad. Also, dog catchers of KJKP Rad have started taking dogs to the infamous veterinary station in Reljevo and the infamous military base Zunovnica in Hadzic, where the dog catching service of P.E. “Lokum” of Novi Grad, has taken dogs. It is important to emphasise that the veterinary station in Reljevo is owned by Lokom and that it is known to be the worst killing pound in Sarajevo.
The imperative is to stop the illegal catching and killing of strays and to enable rescuers to have access to all shelters and dog catching services, which is a legal obligation of authorities, but also it is very useful since rescuers can help maintain shelters and help feed and look after the animals there. Authorities must take their responsibility for solving of this problem.
Because owners are continuing to abandon their unsterilised dogs or the unsterilised offspring of their pets, and because there are not sufficient numbers of adequately run sterilisation campaigns, the number of dogs in the Canton Sarajevo is still around several thousand.
No one knows the exact number as there is no database. Local authorities built several shelters around Sarajevo in which conditions are even not close to a satisfactory level, animals have no vet care, conditions and treatment are inhumane. These shelters include Praca, Hresa, Gladno Polje and Zunovnica with a maximum capacity of around 600 dogs in total. Dogs often die due to sickness or are attacked by other dogs. Conditions are almost the same as in concentration war camps. Dogs survive – if at all – thanks to groups of volunteers and animal-friendly citizens of Sarajevo who visit them and provide food and some medicines. Some public companies donate some food or food scraps. Lucky dogs are homed in Bosnia or abroad thanks to volunteers. (During the meeting Prime Minister Elmedin Konakovic stated the government most likely would buy Praca shelter, and who knows what the consequence will be for the dogs.)
Thousands of dogs remaining on the streets cannot be placed in shelters as they are so overcrowded. Furthermore, there is not any official evidence as to how many dogs are taken from the streets, how many arrive in the shelters, what their health condition is, how many are euthanized and for what reason, and how many are currently at the shelters. There is no adequate inspection in practice, no official cooperation with the NGO sector which could make and keep evidence on everything in cooperation with the authorities. Hence dogs are often left at the mercy of employees of the hygienic service and shelter owners. No one knows how many die in between visits of the volunteers and due to what reason.
The Bosnian media is also getting more and more involved in reporting this case:
BIH MAGAZIN [22.07.2016.]
Misterija iza smanjenja broja pasa lutalica u Sarajevu
UBIJANJE ZAKONA O ZAŠTITI ŽIVOTINJA: Aktivisti tvrde da se sarajevski psi ubijaju u nelegalnim skloništima!
However media has also encouraged citizens of Sarajevo to live in fear of stray dogs. They constantly publish overwrought, bombastic articles about dogs attacking people, of infected and rabid dogs, of the filth they are producing in an otherwise very clean city et cetera. Currently there is, in fact, an alarming situation of rats and other rodents on the streets, but the media presents the dogs as a bigger problem. And no media is reporting on dogs being transported from other areas of Bosnia to Sarajevo, even, perhaps, from other countries (a truck has been seen filled with dogs in Sarajevo, with Albanian registration plates). A story was published about 10 days ago in several news portals, where the Prime Minister stated that child support is only 33 KM (about 16 euros) per child and yet the government is allocating 153 KM (about 78 euros) per stray dog. If this money did in fact go towards stray dogs, then the situation in the shelters and the overpopulation would not exist. Nevertheless such stories inflame the rage of the populace against dogs.
Most of of media is controlled and/or financed by leading political parties, which is why they do not publish the real situation.
HOW TO HELP:
1. Write letters to your embassy representative in Bosnia:
To find your Embassy in Bosnia-Herzegovina go here:
Finding any MEP in Europe – a ‘Euromap’
Finding any MEP by the alphabetical name list can be done via the following link: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members/expert/alphaOrder.do?language=EN
2. Write letters to the Bosnian authorities:
Prime minister of Canton Sarajevo, Dino Konaković, email@example.com
Minister of Utility infrastracture, Senad Hasanspahić firstname.lastname@example.org and
Below is a draft letter you can modify to use. Or you can simply copy and paste the above blog and ask that something be done. Please be sure to address it to a specific person and to sign it, including your contact details.
Millions of citizens care deeply about animal welfare and are sickened to see constant reports of horrific animal cruelty. Countries seeking to acquire EU membership need to demonstrate certain standards of animal care, and so I want to bring to your attention Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are seeking admission, and yet who constantly contravene their own animal welfare laws.
In 2009, the Law on Animal Welfare and Protection entered into force in Bosnia Herzegovina. Amongst other things this law proscribes that owners of dogs and cats are to register their animals at the veterinarian organization and mark them with microchips. Additionally, within the period of one year, institutions were obliged to build humane shelters in which all abandoned and lost animals found on the streets should be placed after being caught by a hygienic service, and in which they would be treated on a humane way and provided adequate veterinarian care. Until then, stray animals could be spayed and turned back to the street, while only sick, aggressive and dogs in agony were to be euthanized.
So far, no legally proscribed measure has been conducted. Since the local authorities have not conducted sufficient neutering campaigns on time and properly, the number of stray dogs has multiplied. Dogs Trust sterilization campaigns nave not been able to significantly reduce the numbers of dogs in Sarajevo. Owners are continuing to abandon their unsterilised dogs or the unsterilised offspring of their pets, so the number of dogs in the Canton Sarajevo still seems to be around several thousands. No one knows the exact number as there is no database. Local authorities built several shelters around Sarajevo in which conditions are even not close to a satisfactory level, animals have no vet care, conditions and treatment are inhumane. These shelters include Praca, Hresa, Gladno Polje and Zunovnica with a maximum capacity of around 600 dogs in total. Dogs often die due to sickness or are attacked by other dogs. Conditions are almost the same as in concentration war camps. Dogs survive thanks to groups of volunteers and animal-friendly citizens of Sarajevo who visit them and provide food and some medicines. Some public companies donate some food or food scraps. Lucky dogs are homed in Bosnia or abroad thanks to volunteers.
Thousands of those remaining on the streets cannot be placed in shelters as they are overcrowded. Furthermore, there is not any official evidence as to how many dogs are taken from the streets, how many arrive in the shelters, what their health condition is, how many are euthanized and for what reason, and how many are currently at the shelters. There is no adequate inspection in practice, no official cooperation with the NGO sector which could make and keep evidence on everything in cooperation with the authorities. Hence dogs are often left at the mercy of employees of the hygienic service and shelter owners. No one knows how many die in between visits of the volunteers and due to what reason.
On 30 June, 2016, Cantonal Government issued a decision which requires A utility company KJKP Rad (Hygienic Service), in collaboration with Veterinary Station and supported by the police, to remove all stray dogs they find on the street. In the course of their action, they take every dog, regardless of whether they are aggressive, sick, spayed (with a visible marked at the plate on the ear) or not. Even babies. While the Government is claiming that this is being done legally and in a human way, the implementation of the conclusion is illegal due to the fact that there is no space and no conditions at the shelters to put new arrivals of dogs. Therefore, it is obvious that hundreds and thousands of dogs taken from the streets are killed.
Furthermore, government public statements have been made with regards to this dog catching stating there is a need to collect aggressive and ill street dogs, which is part of the country’s animal welfare law. The same law prohibits the destruction of healthy dogs. And yet, animal welfare activists have documented healthy and non-aggressive dogs been caught and removed. In addition, the problem of strays in the city is a result of owners either letting their unsterilised dogs free-roam, or because they abandon their unsterilised dogs.
Increased numbers of dogs on the streets is a direct result of irresponsible ownership, with owners either letting their unsterilised dogs free-roam, or because they abandon their unsterilised dogs and because of government failure to implement preventive measures that are provided by the laws, such as punishing those who abandon animals, creating a registration of pets, providing adequate spay/neuter projects with vaccination and tagging of stray animals in an appropriate form and number, and education and information campaigns which are aimed to raise public awareness about the causes of the problem.
The BiH law on Protection and Welfare of Animals very clearly provides solutions for dealing with an overpopulation of stray animals in Bosnia. The first legal obligation of authorities is to build shelters for stray animals, whose purpose is to care for stray animals until they are adopted. Conditions that all shelters must fulfil are outlined in the law.
Regarding registration of pets, for seven years the State Veterinary Office has not enacted the laws on registration, micro-chipping and identification of ownership of animals in Bosnia and Herzegovina, nor has established a unified database for registration.
The only way to solve this problem is for municipalities and governments to establish their own database of owned of animal. If the database of tagged animals and owners of animals is established, it will enable the identification, prosecution and punishment of people who abandon the animals.
Also, the dog shelters in this country are documented by animal rescue organisations and activists to be inhumane ‘death camps’ for dogs, and are in fact used for money laundering purposes: money destined for the dogs and the shelters is pocketed.
I am writing to ask your assistance in ensuring that the current ‘dog catching’ service of by the public utility company KJKP Rad Ltd. Sarajevo and Public company “Veterinary station” Ltd. be monitored and investigated to ensure it works according to Bosnian law and that the shelters in Sarajevo and other public shelters in the country have radically improved conditions, and in particular that animal activists be allowed to document and ensure that the laws are applied.
We have been advised by BiH lawyers and activists that as the BiH politicians themselves are involved in stealing of money from illegal shelters and hygienic ‘dog catching’ services, and that since the prosecutors and police officers are also corrupt, the only way to force the BiH political establishment to stop their illegal practises is pressure from international organisations and especially embassies.
The existing Animal Welfare and Protection Act of Bosnia-Herzegovina is in fact a good and enforceable law. The only reason the law is not being enforced is because certain political and professional circles do not want to do it.
The law states that every city and town has to build shelters for stray animals. All shelters for stray animals have to provide a NO KILL policy and adequate care, including veterinary care for the animals housed there. Again, the truth is that the conditions in most public shelters are horrific, with dogs being left for days without water, food or care of any kind. There is documented evidence of this.
As you will be aware, the European Union provides the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and with many millions of euros worth of financial aid each year. My understanding of the provisos attached to these aid packages is that there is a requirement for the recipient country to abide by EU laws which would include the laws related to animal welfare. The Commission has stated that aligning national animal welfare legislation with EU law is a prerequisite for EU membership.
I would urge you please to raise the above issues with the European Commission and the European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of animals (http://www.animalwelfareintergroup.eu/) and, critically, with your representatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The issue of the failure of the BiH authorities to apply even the barest minimum of the law to ensure the safety of the animals must be addressed. It is imperative that the European Commission and the Parliament discusses this matter with their Bosnia and Herzegovina counterparts.
We urge you to help ensure that the Bosnia Herzegovina authorities implement internationally agreed-upon guiding principles on humane stray dog population control and management, and that resources be allocated to ensure such principles are followed.
Many thanks for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.
Please read related articles/blogs on this site for more information:
Terror for strays on the streets of Sarajevo
Stray Dogs in Sarajevo: a documentary
Dog Catchers of Sarajevo: Latest news
Disturbing Irregularities found in Dog Catching Service of Sarajevo
The Dog Catchers of Sarajevo are Back
Pope’s Visit to Sarajevo Means Death for Dogs
Sarajevo Demonstrations Against Illesgal Dog Catchers
Former Military Base in Sarajevo involved in dog killing?
“DOG-CATCHERS” OF SARAJEVO CAUGHT IN ACTION!
AUTHORISED SLAUGHTER OF DOGS IN SARAJEVO
2014: What is happening to the strays of Bosnia Herzegovina?
Animal Advocates Assaulted in Sarajevo
Bosnia: Let’s Respect Animals and their Right to Life
Veterinary Office of Bosnia: is it possible to solve the problem of stray dogs?
The “Aggressive” Dogs of Sarajevo
The Campaign Begins With a Slaughter: You will kill the dogs, but what will you do with the beasts?
Stray Dogs of Sarajevo to be Killed in Election Ploy
Stop the Killing of Strays in Sarajevo
Bosnia: Sarajevo set to become the next Bucharest
BOSNIA: kill and slaughter until the dog is no more…
Bosnia Killing Dogs – No Different to Romania!
ANTI KILL-LAW FIGHT – NOW WHAT?
Funds are needed to help individual rescues, for spay-neuter projects, for education also to continue advocacy work in Bosnia, uncovering the truth about what is happening there. Donations are managed by AWABosnia, an independent group of animal advocates. On their website, Animal Welfare Advocates for Bosnia, you can set up a monthly donation via PayPal, or if you want to make a one-off donation, please go to your PayPal account (or set one up, it’s very easy) and send the money to: email@example.com. Click on the image below to be taken to PayPal’s home page.
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This site is dedicated to Vučko. Read his story and don’t let him have suffered and died in vain. Please help the stray dogs and cats in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The situation there is utterly dire, Vučko is but one amongst many horrifically abused animals. Even just one dollar or one euro will help make a difference.