General elections will be held in Bosnia and Herzegovina on October 12, 2014. As always, election ploys to garner votes are underway.
One of these ploys is to address the problem of the stray dog population in Sarajevo Canton. It is a problem. There are far too many strays in Sarajevo, as there are throughout Bosnia Herzegovina. But instead of applying what is a very good law on the Protection and Welfare of Animals of BiH, a law that includes the provision for ongoing spay neuter campaigns and of adequate shelters, the politicians decide, just before elections, to highlight an issue with dog bites and make a grand show of offering solutions by setting up a dog catching service and pouring funds into this service. In fact they have stated it will cost annually 680,000KM (340,000 Euros or 450,000 USD) to implement this service, and they have already allocated 88,000KM (45,000 Euros or 58,000 USD) for the cost of nine employees designated to this service, which includes a ‘hotline’ for citizens to report dog bites.
Zlatko Petrović, Minister of Spatial Planning and Environmental Protection states that the number of dogs bites this year is 600. But nowhere is it stated what dogs make up this number and in what circumstances. Dog fighting is illegal but rife in Bosnia Herzegovina. Do any of these bites happen during these fights? And do any of these bites occur from owned dogs? Or from dogs suffering during abuse, or even in during normal veterinary procedures?
During my recent visit to Bosnia, I encountered numerous strays. Every single one of them either came up for a cuddle, or hurried away timidly. I spent considerable time with a supposedly aggressive pack of stray dogs. The two eight year old boys from Germany I was travelling with hugged these ‘aggressive’ dogs closely without mishap.
“Aggressive” stray dogs…Note also that P. E. “Rad”, a company hired for dog catching and disposal of corpses, was in fact shut down in 2009 by the Veterinary Inspection of Canton Sarajevo, because its methods were illegal and contrary to the provisions of the Animal Protection and Welfare Act. Is it likely that their methods will have changed?
Also, the figure allocated as being necessary for the service to proceed must be considered in another context: P.E. Lokom, the public utility (‘hygiene’) service (established by the municipality) that will work in conjunction with P. E. Rad, has a shortfall in its budget this year of nearly 500,000KM.
“Is it conceivable that a shortfall will be covered fully, or to a large extent from 680.000 KM ‘estimated annual operating costs’ aimed to fund the “dangerous dogs special team?” This being Bosnia, sure,” states Zoltan Milic, consultant economist in International Trade and Development.
Of Lokom’s operational and budget procedures, Milic says, “How do they generate income? I don’t know. According to Sarajevo Canton Novi Grad’s municipal budget – Novi Grad established P.E. Lokom, to “manage and operate” facilities owned by the municipality on their behalf – the municipal direct transfer to Lokom is 250.000 KM with an additional ‘transfer to hygienic services with veterinary services within Lokom enterprise’ of 110.000 KM. Out of this 110K, 35.000KM was for ‘costs of care of sheltered animals’ and an additional 30.000KM was redirected from the funds previously earmarked to Cantonal Veterinary Services for spaying and neutering.”
Note that P.E. Lokom has no dealings whatsoever with any dog shelters or spay neuter programs…
Animal activist and rescuer Ivana Tomic from Tuzla says this about the stray dog population: “A solution exists, far cheaper than 680.000KM if we take into account that these funds are available to only ONE canton, but the solutions can’t be realized overnight. This entire charade that I am watching, discussions regarding the hatred and aggression toward the four-legged beings that have bigger hearts than many of the people who I know including some that I am related to, is nothing other than hiding evidence of wasted funds that have disappeared without a trace, which were allocated for the solution of the stray dog problem.”
Existing shelters in Canton Sarajevo are so poorly maintained dogs are better off on the streets if it were not for the efforts of activists – if they are allowed to help out, which frequently they are not.
In Gladno Polje public shelter in Sarajevo, housing around 200 dogs, there was no running water on the day I visited. In the pens, the stench of fear, illness and excrement was literally unbearable.
One of the activists helping at Gladno Pojle says: “The only thing the shelter pays for is water, since there hasn’t been any electricity in the building for over a year, because of the damage to the roof of the building, which is leaking every time it rains.”
For photographs and videos of Gladno Polje public shelter from a recent visit, please go here. In this blog do a search on ‘shelters’ and you will find out more about the ‘horror’ shelters of Bosnia Herzegovina.
Please also note director and film animator Vesko Kadic’s public letter made in 2013 to the mayor of Sarajevo just prior to the elections. (Translation is here.) It clearly shows that the current situation is exactly the same as last year and that absolutely no progress is made on implementing the animal welfare law. Instead, government ministers seek to secure their position and their lifestyle.
For an idea on the BiH government approach, please read the Ambassador’s Notes: Embassy Sarajevo Views from U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where David Barth, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director for Bosnia and Herzegovina and COL Scott Miller, U.S. Defense Attaché state:
“At the donor conference held in July, the international community pledged over 800 million Euros in assistance for the flood-affected areas. More than 100 million Euros of this money has already been spent or programmed by the international community in the immediate aftermath of the humanitarian disaster and now in the recovery effort. However, international institutions have offered more than half a billion Euros in assistance to the government of BiH for purposes of flood relief and recovery. Little to none has reached citizens or municipalities in need. Four months after the initial floods, politicians throughout BiH have no real plans, or even serious ideas, to offer for recovery. Flood victims have seen little to nothing except for empty promises and excuses from their leaders. These same leaders instead quickly apply international assistance to fill their coffers to cover existing budget shortfalls that are the result of their policies, with little directed for flood response.”
Animal welfare activists want to use all legal means to end this horror, to save stray dogs and to make sure the government implements the existing Animal Protection and Welfare Act and that this dog catching and killing spree stops.
Many activists and rescuers are keeping vigil on the streets at night, and not only in Sarajevo.
A rescuer from a town north in central Bosnia Herzegovina who takes care of the strays in her area says: “The dogs here are also in danger, it is not just Sarajevo killing strays, they started to do it here 10 days ago, maybe two weeks ago, but I never thought it will be for real. Now I’m spending every night outside, or going around three or four times, to make sure my pack will be ok, we lost “just” two of them. I have to watch my dogs, and all together – I’m so tired, but I have to be sure that my dogs will survive. My pack will not be killed as long as i can spend my nights outside, but it can’t be forever, I have to move them.
Stray dogs are frequently gunned down in Bosnia Herzegovina, and the Sarajevo government’s new policy, widely reported in the media can only give encouragement to more killing. See today’s news item concerning two men with guns killing stray dogs in Kozarska Dubica, a town in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina. This horror was witnessed by primary school children. “It happened at the very entrance of the school, the sight of a large number of children.” (English translation here)
Another “aggressive” stray dog, in Sarajevo:
HOW TO HELP: currently activists need funds for legal proceedings and also to keep their rescues safely off the streets in pensions. If you can help, donation details are at the bottom of this page. Also please sign the following petitions:
BOSNIA! IMPLEMENT HUMANE STRAY-DOG AND CAT POPULATION CONTROL AND TREATMENT
Stop massive killing of dogs in Sarajevo
Petition to save Bosnia’s stray dogs! Please sign!
Also see the petitions on the Petitions page.
Related articles in this blog:
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!
Why is a Sarajevo government dog service causing such panic?
Ambassador’s Notes: Embassy Sarajevo Views from U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina
Jelena Paunović: I got bi’en by a dog in the election campaign / Jelena Paunović: Uj’o me cuko u predizbornoj kampanji
Masovni pokolj pasa u KS košta 680.000 KM / Massive dog slaughter in Canton Sarajevo will cost 340 000 EUR
AlJazeera: Kontekst: Problem zbrinjavanja pasa u Sarajevu (Context: The problem of disposal of dogs in Sarajevo)
Emergency phone numbers available for Canton Sarajevo residents to report dog attacks / Hitni telefoni za prijavu napada pasa dostupni građanima KS
Criminal Charges Pressed Against Acting Prime Minister in The Government of Sarajevo Due to Forming Illegal Dog Catching Service
Bosnia: Sarajevo creates unit ‘to catch stray dogs’
U državama u kojima ne vlada zakon prava, vlada zakon linča
Stranka za BiH: Odluka Vlade KS o uklanjanju napuštenih pasa je neustavna i nezakonita
Sarajevo: Podnesena kaznena prijava zbog formiranja ilegalnog šintorskog servisa
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: firstname.lastname@example.org as a ‘gift’. Click on the image below to be taken to PayPal’s home page.
Or if you want to use the customised PayPal form, click the link below. However, a transaction fee and a percentage (2- 5.4%) will be deducted by PayPal for any contribution made.
If you want your contribution to go to a specific cause, please make a note in the PayPal comment box. If you wish to contribute via bank transfer or have other difficulties or questions, please go here.
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.