Below is a translation of an article published last June. The horrific truth is that nothing has changed since then and the mass removal and killing of dogs is happening on a daily basis without regard for the existing law or any accountability. In fact this week, “Av-Mau” animal protection organization issued a statement and a warning that the public company “Lokom,” under control of Novi Grad Sarajevo County, in an attempt to delegitimize local animal welfare activists and to deflect attention from their ongoing and illegal removal of stray dogs from Sarajevo streets has submitted a formal request to the Ministry of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to curtail the work of local animal welfare organizations in Sarajevo by removing them from the official registry. If the Ministry of Justice agree, then the strays of Sarajevo are without advocates… the situation is dire.
Last week, a letter from a group of residents of Sarajevo municipality of Novi Grad and Vogosca was sent to the addresses of numerous editorial boards and diplomatic missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia to draw attention to the mass killing of animals in their city and to ask the recipients to send request to the BiH authorities to stop this terrible practice.
Based on assertions made in the letter, massive illegal activities are taking place in the center of Sarajevo, and with the “blessing of the local authorities,” these activities are conducted by the company Lokom, which is not only carrying out these activities contrary to the provision of applicable laws and regulations, but performs its terrible job in front of the public, including children. The letter states that thus far, “intervention of international organizations and diplomatic missions” has not helped and that after a number of amendments to the Animal Protection and Welfare law, “Sarajevo is still swimming in blood because of the slaughter of dogs in all municipalities, particularly in Novi Grad and Center, as well as Vogosca, Ilijas, Stari Grad.”
Sarajevo residents are asking all who received this letter to respond in a manner in which they can to ensure that the responsible party – the company Lokom – is held accountable criminally and for infractions for the activities “that they are committing in the most brutal way, killing animals in their vehicles and using the most brutal killing methods such as killing animals with shovels, picks, and Domestos [bleach].”
The authors bitterly noted that it seems that it is the eternal destiny of Sarajevo and its residents that “not a single generation lives without witnessing monstrous human nature” and further stated that they, “as citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina are deeply aware of the problem of stray dogs and that they are willing to participate in all solutions to the problem of stray dogs that does not include torture and killing of any animal species.” Therefore, they are asking for help in order to spread the word about Sarajevo’s brutality against animals to reach the legislative and political bodies that are allowing this terrible practice and to help “save the lives of those who are innocent and cannot speak for themselves.”
In the remainder of the letter they cited an example of an incident which occurred a few days ago in Vogosca. At 127 Josancka Street, a dog was caught; a grey female with an ear tag, which means that she was sterilized, vaccinated against rabies and cleaned of endoparasites, and was a lovable and peaceful dog. She was taken in an unknown direction, but she never arrived to the place where they said she would be taken to. Concerned residents went to all shelters and veterinary stations in the Sarajevo Canton, but according to employees of these facilities, the dog was never received and the Lokom employees never entered any of the facilities. On that day, the residents contacted the police who arrived on the scene to collect statements. This entire incident was photo-documented, and there is also video-documentation given that they expect Lokom’s management and their political cronies to negate and disavow the entire incident. Sarajevo residents also noted in the letter that the hygiene service Lokom works contrary to provisions of law and without formal authority.
According to their assertions, the same problem is occurring in other Sarajevo municipalities where “dogs are being caught and brutally killed day and night,” and further claim that company Lokom is supported “for political reasons” by mayors of Novi Grad, Vogosca, Centar and Stari Grad. In conclusion, they warned dog owners that regardless of their ability to demonstrate that their dog is vaccinated and chipped, to remove their dogs from all public spaces because Lokom employees have repeatedly picked up those dogs and killed them on the spot, while dog owners cannot do anything. “If the team of self-proclaimed dog catchers from Lokom considers your dog to be aggressive, they can take him…pick him up and take away, those are the orders given by their bosses and they are sent into the field to assess on their own which dog is aggressive or not.”
What can you do?
You can email Novi Grad County officials in Sarajevo to demand that they stop the illegal and inhumane mass killing of stray dogs: firstname.lastname@example.org
But, please also email your own embassy in BiH: how to make a difference, from Dalida Kozlic, lawyer and activist in BiH:
“The only way to force our political establishment to stop illegal practices is pressure from international organisations and especially embassies. Activities of foreign activists and organisations should be focused on writing letters to embassies of UK, USA, Germany, Italy and France etc. Foreign politicians are able to make a difference, not our own.”
Below is a draft letter you can modify to use. Please be sure to address it to a specific person and to sign it, including your contact details. You can also send it to your MP and MEP.
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
Millions of EU citizens care deeply about animal welfare and are sickened to see constant reports of horrific animal cruelty, and look to the EU to help improve animal welfare across Europe. 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.
Animal activists and citizens in BiH are documenting the illegal rounding up and killing of strays. In addition there are countless dog shelters in the country that are documented by animal rescue organisations and activists to be inhumane and ‘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 animal welfare laws of the country are upheld and implemented, and that dog shelters be monitored to ensure that the conditions are improved and that the dogs there are safe, 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 services (who are employed to rid the streets of strays), 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.
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. I believe the allocation for 2012 was around €107.8m. 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.
The European Parliament states that “The EU has among the world’s highest standards of animal welfare”. The Eurogroup for Animal Welfare (http://eurogroupforanimals.org/ )is strongly urging the European Commission to adopt adequate measures to ensure that all pet animals are properly treated to protect their health and welfare. If it is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s wish to join the EU it would seem that until their government takes crimes against defenceless, sentient animals seriously they will not be a fit country to be accepted into the EU.
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.
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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.
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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.