By Dalida Kozlic, lawyer
Winter time is one of the worst periods in the year for animals and activists in Bosnia. The main reason is the Bosnian coldness and snow, which cause severe problems for stray animals: they need more food, more protection, more attention. But there is one more reason every activist hates winters in Bosnia — the illegal use of fireworks.
The illegal use of fireworks in our country is a common problem. Fireworks are often used by children and teenagers, but adults are also regular users of fireworks. Animals and small children are victims of this illegal “fun” of the Bosnian people, and during winters there is an increasing number of fireworks used in Bosnian streets.
This illegal fun of the Bosnian people caused one victim whose story no activist or person involved in rescuing animals will ever forget, a victim whose story will chase us forever.
Vucko was a young German shepherd dog who had the misfortune to be born in and to live in Bosnia. In Ilidza (a small town, part of Canton Sarajevo) on the 11th November 2011, two drunken teenagers put a firework in his mouth, taped his jaw shut and then set the firework alight. The explosion caused one of the most horrific injuries of a dog’s face that people had ever seen, but it did not kill him. After he had been so horrifically injured, Vucko wandered the streets for five days. His face was completely disfigured; his jaw was destroyed, as well as his tongue and his teeth. He was in awful pain, without any possibility to eat or to drink. No one helped him until group of activists found out about him and rushed him to a Veterinary faculty in Sarajevo. The veterinarians were shocked by his injuries and condition. Part of the firework was still in his face. Worms and maggots were eating the destroyed tissue. There was no hope his face could be reconstructed in Bosnia or elsewhere, it was completely destroyed.
(Note, you can see pictures and video of Vucko’s injuries here, but be warned, they are shocking and graphic)
Vucko was euthanized, but his story has remained to teach us a few things.
Activists named him Vucko. It is a Bosnian word for small wolf. The sad irony is that Vucko was also the name of the mascot of the Olympic Games, held in Sarajevo in 1984. By 2011, Sarajevo was famous for its notorious attitude towards animals, especially stray animals.
Vucko’s story showed the world how violent Bosnian people are towards stray animals and how passive Bosnian authorities are towards solving cases of animal abuse. The teenagers who did this to Vucko were never prosecuted. The official excuse of police officers and the prosecutor was that there was not enough evidence, and that “they were only drunken teenagers”. And, there are some of us who will never give up on trying to bring justice for Vucko.
However there was one more aspect of Vucko’s story which proved Bosnian cruelty towards and ignorance of those who suffered. Vucko’s was wandering for five days and no one helped him, no one tried to catch him. Only when activists found out about him, was he brought to a vet. No “ordinary citizens” had reacted. Our society is incapable of understanding of animal abuse. This proves that our society does not understand those who are unable to fight for themselves, it does not understand their rights. Our society has a complete lack of empathy for those who suffer.
Bosnian people do not want to understand that animal abusers are people with pathological personality traits, people who tend to become abusers and killers of people (if not already).
Vucko’s case proves that our society as well as our legal enforcement agencies are not interested in helping injured animals, nor are they interested in bringing abusers to court. Prosecution of animal abusers is the basic function in protecting animals. Special prevention should send a message to abusers that if they reoffend, they are to be arrested and punished. This message would therefore sent to the society that the state and the judiciary system do not tolerate animal abuse, and thus the problem is recognized as a deep social anomaly and that each abuser is to be punished.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina torture and killing animals is a criminal offence. However, the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of the crime very rarely occur. The problem of the judicial institutions and the police is similar; it is generally the view that cases of animal abuse are irrelevant to judicial institutions and prosecutors. Essentially, police officers are not capable of understanding how dangerous animal abusers are and what problems they can cause to the society.
People have started realising that in the heart of Europe there is a small country that pays no attention to the rights of animals even though it has one of the best Acts on Protection and Welfare of Animals in Europe. What even sadder about this story is the fact that the Bosnian people survived the worst war conflict after World War II. More than 200 000 people were killed, a million of citizens left the country, and hundreds of thousands were victims awful massacres, ethnic cleaning, raping, daily torture and starvation in the period from 1992 to 1995. We all knew what it meant to be desperate and helpless during the war, and yet no one wanted to help Vucko. Bosnian people have the best knowledge about being helpless, and yet most of them do not feel empathy towards helpless animals.
Believe me, things were so different during the war. It seems to me that many people have lost their hearts after the war.
However, Vucko’s awful destiny has resulted not only in the publicising of atrocities that have happened to animals, it has created a whole new aspect towards helping animals in Bosnia.
Thanks to the widespread publication of Vucko’s fate, including through this website and blog, people have had an opportunity to know the scale of atrocities Bosnian animals are going through. Vucko’s story has helped galvanise people outside of Bosnia towards helping save animals in the country. Animal Welfare Advocates for Bosnia (AWABosnia) and other groups and individuals have saved thousands of animals since Vucko died. I believe that this blog and AWABosnia have played one of the most important roles in preventing Bosnian authorities from legislating amendments to the Act on Protection and Welfare Animals, amendments which could allow a kill policy for stray animals. In Memory of Vucko (this blog, run by Sandra Jensen) is, I believe, the best way to follow Vucko’s path. People who are involved in this project have given up a lot of things to make things better for Bosnian animals, and thank you for that.
Vucko was a victim of unimaginable torture, his short life’s end was a result of living in a cruel society, but he died surrounded by the people who saved him, knowing that there were still some good people in Bosnia. Vucko did not die for nothing, he left us a legacy. That legacy is very difficult to bear, but it is also a motivation for all good people to keep going, to save more and more lives, to chase offenders, to fight for animals and their rights in Bosnia. Vucko’s legacy must always be a motivation for every volunteer, for every activist, for every organisation to keep going, because we are the only persons who can help those who cannot help themselves.
Torturing and killing of strays in areas with problematic human population
Slaughter of stray dogs in Bosanska Krupa, Bosnia
Puppy Flung off Bridge in Sarajevo, Bosnia
Brutal Murder of Dogs in Zenica, Bosnia
Extermination of dogs at Breza Coal Mine, Bosnia
Mass killing of stray dogs in Banovici, Bosnia
Dogs Poisoned in Donji Vakuf, Bosnia
Another Mass Killing of Dogs in Bosnia
Dogs Brutally Slaughtered in Bosnia HerzegovinaPuppy dies after horrific attack in Bosnia Herzegovina
Loved Street Dog Hanged in Gradiska, Bosnia!
Boy steals puppy and hangs it – Prnjavor, Bosnia Herzegovina
Dog’s Skull Deliberately Crushed in Bosnia Herzegovina
Dog Slaughter in Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina
Yet another brutal dog murder in Bosnia Herzegovina
Another Dog Tortured by Wire in Bosnia
DOG TORTURED IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA!
More than 40 killed dogs found in garbage dump
Poisoning of Dogs and Cats in Glamoc, Bosnia Herzegovina
Puppy burned alive in Bosnia Herzegovina!
Mass Murder of Dogs in Bosnia Herzegovina
Dog Massacre in Dobosnica, Bosnia Herzegovina
Mass Poisoning of Dogs in Bugojno, Bosnia
Dog Beheaded in Bosnia
Funds are needed not only to help individual rescues but also to continue our advocacy work in Bosnia Herzegovina, uncovering the truth about what is happening there.
On our sister site, 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.
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 dog or 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. Go here to find out how to help them. Money is needed for food, medicine and foster housing. Even just one dollar or one euro will help.
Thank you for your work in getting the word out about the abuse, torture and neglect. Vucko’s story is shocking but it has made people aware of what’s happening.