Dalida Kozlic L.L.B, lawyer and activist writes:
The Bosnian War was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. Casualties were not only people. Animals also were casualties and suffered during the war. Bosnia and Herzegovina did not have an Animal Protection and Welfare Act until 2009. The Animal Protection and Welfare Act of Bosnia and Herzegovina was only legislated and entered into force by Parliamentary Assembly in 2009. Cruelty towards and killing animals is a criminal offence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This Law regulates the responsibility of humans regarding the protection and welfare of animals in terms of breeding/owning; providing shelter and food; protection from cruelty; the well-being of animals during authorised slaughter, ensuring animals are not exposed to stress during transportation, wildlife protection, treatment of abandoned animals, pets and laboratory animals, establishing ethics committees and expert councils/boards, as well as conducting the supervision of the implementation of this Law and penalty measures for all violators of this Law.
The government of Canton Sarajevo has sent an official request to Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina to enact amendments to the Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals. The prime minister and ministers in the government of Canton Sarajevo demand that article 14 (euthanasia) of the Act is changed. This article allows euthanasia of stray animals only because of veterinary reasons. It is prohibited to kill stray dogs in shelters. Amendments to this article would allow authorities to kill healthy stray animals in shelters if the animals are not adopted.
The proposal of this amendment is not in legislation procedure yet, but we are expecting that one of the leading national parties, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) will accept this request and start legal procedure to enact these “KILL” amendments. Dino Konakovic, the prime minister of Canton Sarajevo, is a member of the SDA.
As you all know, we had a similar situation in 2013, when rescuers and animal welfare advocates managed to stop the legal procedure to enact a “KILL LAW.” We need your support again.
The Bosnian Act on the Protection and Welfare of Animals is one of the best in Europe but no one is interested in this: corrupt authorities are often involved in the illegal killing of stray and wild animals as a way of money laundering.
Stray animals are victims of notorious cruelty. Politically eligible persons construct so-called shelters for stray animals. These shelters are no better than concentration camps, and the authorities invoice for spay/neuter programs that they do not undertake, as well as invoicing for for food is never given to the animals. They invoice for veterinary examinations and treatment, and at the end, for means for euthanasia. In reality, the stray animals are tortured, and killed in worst possible ways. All this represents a series of violations of criminal law as well as the Animal Protection and Welfare Act of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
While these atrocities are occurring, local authorities are also financing people who own these shelters. It is money laundering. Also many stray animals are abused and killed on the streets. Authorities do not nothing to find and punish animal abusers.
These proposed amendments, allowing the euthanasia of healthy stray animals, has as their purpose a means to conceal the massacre of stray animals that is already occurring.
Should these amendments be in Parliamentary legislation procedure it will be critical to apply pressure to stop the amendments. International focus and support would be the only solution. International animal welfare organisations, embassies, media, as well as individuals will have to press BiH authorities, insisting they do not change the law, but rather to implement it. The authorities must seek out legal and humane ways to solve the problem of over population of stray dogs in BiH.
The problem of overpopulation of stray dogs is a direct consequence of the failure to implement, as well as a series of obstructions and misuse of the Act on the Protection and Welfare of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has been lasting since 2009 when the law came into force. The Act on Protection Act and Welfare of Animals of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a lex specialis (the main legislation) in the field of treating animals in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Act, as well as related by-laws, are the main legal framework for all other laws and by-laws that are legislated by the legislative authorities at any level of organization of authority in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which regulate the relation, keeping and treatment of animals.
By attempting only a partial and non-systematic implementation of the Act, the agony of stray dogs on the streets as well as citizens will only widen further, and budget funds will be spent on non-purpose, illegal and unsystematic attempts to solve the problem. Instead of solving the problem with legal solutions, authorities have been financing the killing of stray animals in illegal pounds for years. Financing of illegal pounds is a violation of the provisions of the Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals, as well as a serious offence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Failure to implement the Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals is the result of a series of abuses and obstructions as well as of the authorities dealing only with consequences and not with the causes of the problem, and the causes are the abandonment of animals, irresponsible ownership and uncontrolled reproduction.
Increased numbers of dogs on the streets is always and only a direct result of irresponsible ownership, and failure to implement preventive measures that are provided by the Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals, such as punishing those who abandon animals, the full identification of ownership and pets, 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 Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals very clearly and precisely 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 provided by the Ordinance on the establishment and the conditions that must be fulfilled by shelters for stray animals in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Another legal obligation of the authorities is the registration of ownership of animals.
Finally, after seven years the State Veterinary Office enacted the laws on registration, micro-chipping and identification of ownership of animals Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it has not yet established a unified register of ownership of animals.
If the registry of tagged animals and owners of animals is established, it will enable the identification, prosecution and punishment of people who abandon animals. The implementation of repressive measures will directly affect the consciousness of citizens and thus help solve the situation. Because of the absence of a register of breeders, illegal breeding causes an increasing of number of stray animals. Irresponsible or unregistered breeders and breeding contributes to increasing the number of stray animals.
Although it is their legal obligation, municipalities and cities refuse to finance the construction and maintenance of adequate shelters for stray animals, but rescuers and concerned citizens witness everyday improper and illegal spending of budget funds. Also false information about the cost of maintaining shelters is published. If violators of the provisions of the Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals are punished, the funds raised from fines ought to be directed towards the construction and maintenance of shelters for stray animals. Also implementation of the Act of Protection and Welfare of Animals can be financed by funds collected from legally obligatory vaccination of dogs against rabies. Until shelters for stray animals are built, municipalities should finance the feeding of stray animals, and authorities are obliged to implement spay/neuter projects.
If the shelters for stray animals, which must be “centres for care and adopting of stray animals,” are built and maintained in accordance with state regulations and law, and if there is an appropriate policy for establishing and managing shelters, the cost will be low. Quality education and raising awareness of the citizens will mean an increase in the percentage of adoption of abandoned animals.
Hygienic services are directly related to the existence of shelters for stray animals and because of this, the establishment of hygienic services cannot be an independent measure regarding decreasing the population of stray animals. Hygienic services must be established in accordance with the provisions of the laws on the establishment and the conditions that hygienic services must fulfil in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The purpose of a hygienic service is capturing and transport of stray animals to veterinary stations and shelters. Certainly the establishment of a legal hygienic services is necessary, but hygienic services cannot exist and work without implementing all the other legal obligations of the authorities, especially without building shelters. If hygienic services work without implementing all the provisions and measures provided by the Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals, those services do not solve the problem and they are perfect grounds for different abuses and misuses of the laws.
Only by full implementation of the Act for the Protection and Welfare of Animals, will misuse and illegal killing in shelters and by hygienic services be prevented. Also, all responsible authorities such as the Veterinary Office, Veterinary inspection, authorised official veterinarians, police, etc., must be involved in the implementation of the Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals, and it is their legal obligation. Authorities in Bosnia have failed to fulfil their legal obligations and many authorities that are responsible for implementation of the Act have actually violated the Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals. Such illegal behaviour must be punished and prevented.
Prevention of abuse, which is particularly related to the fact that stray dogs can “disappear”, is only possible by consistent implementation of all the measures stipulated by the Act on the protection and welfare of animals in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
You should be aware that the partial and manipulating misuse of Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals, which has been in practice so far, only makes for an even greater and longer-lasting problem. The problem of overpopulation of stray dogs can be solved by the registration of ownership of dogs, engaging a certified trainer for the protection of animals to educate people, assistance in developing of a strategy to solve the problem of stray animals and finally the building self-sustaining shelters for stray animals.
Without complete and consistently implementing of the Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals, the problem of overpopulation of stray animals will not be solved. It is important to end the illegal practice of partial implementation of the law which is a criminal offence and which causes the problem to become even more complicated and difficult to resolve.
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Concentration Camp for Man’s Best Friend
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.