In March of 2015 we published news of dogs poisoned in Donji Vakuf, Bosnia where strays were poisoned using a variety of methods including crushed glass being added to food, Demestos and other toxins. Many of the dogs killed had been sterilised in the local TNR campaign. We placed a call to action in our blog and on Facebook and asked you to email and fax the authorities in Donji Vakuf. Many of you did, and we learned that this had a positive result, with a reduction in these illegal, inhumane poisonings. However, we have just been informed that it’s starting up again, that a mass poisoning of strays is once again being organised. AGAIN WE NEED YOUR HELP TO STOP THIS! All details on who to contact, with draft letters to email are towards the end of this blog.
What is occurring in Donji Vakuf is a violation of the Animal Protection and Welfare law of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is happening in populated areas, as before.
A concerned citizen told us: “First, let me try to explain how these non-humans operate. They are completely organised. In this town, no one can do anything without the police knowing. So I’m sure the police are involved. Half an hour ago I passed one part of town and there was not a single dog. Three days ago there were at least 20 street dogs in this area. My assumption is that people from hunting associations are poisoning dogs by order of the mayor of the municipality but there is no proof. I am doing everything I can to track and document what is happening. I know the hunter’s vehicles. But so far I have no proof. Very likely they finish their work and I am too late to witness it. I reported the poisoning that happened last year, and this year I asked the police how far has the investigation progressed. They answered that they did not even have a blood sample analysis and that all dogs are listed as “allegedly” poisoned. The third participant in the poisoning is the utility company that quickly removes corpses, so I have only pictures of 2 poisoned dogs.All dogs are poisoned in the city’s populated area. I believe at least 50 dogs have been poisoned but I only have pictures of just two of the dogs, due the rapid removal of corpses.
I just pray that you can somehow put pressure on the municipal authorities. Please write articles, blogs. Please send emails because I know they read them and they retreat when they receive an email or fax from the EU or the USA. If an association for the protection of animals in the EU reacted, they would re-think what they are doing. Especially put pressure on the Municipal Council. I know of 21 councillors and not one is an animal lover.”
This concerned citizen has also asked everyone to contact the Landskrona municipality in Sweden. They are a big donor for development to the Donji Vakuf municipality. He asks us to please tell them them what they do with the dogs in Donji Vakuf. Details below.
Dalida Kozlic L.L.B, lawyer and activist tells us that an investigation is being conducted on the basis of her previous criminal report on poisonings in this area but the police are obstructing the investigation. Dalida told us: “I will take all necessary actions to stop this. It means that I will try to force the prosecutors to send an inspector from the Cantonal police instead of police officers from Vakuf itself.“
Last year dogs were poisoned on the city streets, in the doorways of buildings, in the city parks. The Veterinary Station of Donji Vakuf confirmed poison was used to kill the dogs, given the symptoms, and they stated that half the dogs killed had been sterilised in the local campaign.
This brutal means to tackle a stray dog problem will have consequences on the consciousness of younger generations, sending a message that breaking the law goes unpunished and that it is acceptable to torture and kill animals. The silence of the inspectors, veterinarians, and police, who do nothing to investigate these atrocities and punish the perpetrators is shocking.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina torture and killing animals is a common occurrence. In adults the offence is punishable by fine or imprisonment, however the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of such crimes very rarely occur.
You will find links to other reports of such crimes at the end of this blog.
FIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP. Do not forget to email the authorities listed below in Sweden (number 2 on the list).
1. Please send emails and faxes to the officials involved in the Donji Vakuf municipality below, letting them know you are aware of what is happening and that it contravenes the laws of the country. Please ask them to ensure this incident does not discourage further sterilisation programs, that they must engage the support of the local police and media in implementing these programs. Please ask them to investigate this crime and to ensure that the populace are informed about the animal welfare laws of the country and the humane procedures that can be successfully enforced to ensure control of stray dog populations, and that in fact killing animals is not a solution, on the contrary, the problem is further complicated because animals migrate and the territory of the killed dogs becomes occupied by other, less socialized individuals.
Huso Sušić, Mayor of Donji Vakuf
Fax: + 387 30 509-615
Chief of Inspections Sector
Fax:+ 387 30 509-615
Municipality of Donji Vakuf
Fax: + 387 30 / 509-615
Nedžad Karahodžić (Komandir/Zapovjednik – police chief)
Policijska stanica Donji Vakuf
Telephone-fax copy + 387 30-205-550
Inspectorate: Odsjek inspekcije Bugojno
Fax +387 30 251 051
Ivica Sivonjić – Assistant Chief, Travnic Municipality:
Phone and fax: + 387 (o) 30 511 791/ (0) 30 511 277 ext 214
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
You may use the following letter as a draft. Please personalise the letter, addressing the person you are sending it to, and signing it with your name:
We have been informed about the recent illegal poisoning and killing of dogs in Donji Vakuf. We are aware that this occurred last year, and that it caused an international outcry. We ask that you ensure, once again, that the perpetrators of this vile act are brought to justice, and that the citizens of your municipality are educated regarding the effective and legal method of curbing the stray dog population: TNR (trap, neuter, release). We ask you to ensure the government authorities, the police, the local media and the veterinary inspectorate work together in implementing the BiH animal welfare laws and continue to implement sterilisation of stray dogs.
The animal welfare laws of Bosnia Herzegovina are good, applicable laws but 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 immediately addressed. We are sure you are aware of the numerous studies showing that those who are cruel to animals are very likely to commit crimes against people. Furthermore, if you do not bring the perpetrators to justice, you send a message to the younger generations that breaking the law goes unpunished and that it is acceptable to torture and kill animals.
We urge you to implement internationally agreed-upon guiding principles on humane stray dog population control and management and allocate resources to ensure such principles are followed in an ongoing and systematic manner, which is the only viable solution to curbing stray dog and cat populations.
2. Please contact the Landskrona municipality in Sweden and their embassy in Bosnia. They are a big donor to the Donji Vakuf municipality please tell them them what they do with the dogs in Donji Vakuf:
Landskrona Municipality Facebook Page with contact details:
Their website: http://www.landskrona.se/
Their contact details:
Monday-Friday 7:30 to 17:00
Telephone: +46 (0) 418-47 00 00
23 December and 30 December, the switchboard is open 7:30 to 12:00
Address: City Hall, Drottninggatan 7, Landskrona, Sweden
Email of the Swedish embassy in Bosnia: email@example.com
Tel +387 33 27 60 37
Fax: +387 33 27 60 61
Copy of a letter you can send to the Swedish authorities is at the end of this blog.
3. Email your Embassy in Bosnia-Herzegovina, asking them to work with the Bosnian authorities to ensure that the animal welfare laws of the country are enforced, that the citizens are educated in studies showing there is a direct link between animal cruelty and cruelty to humans, and that the most effective means of stray animal population control is through consistently applied sterilisation programs. To find your embassy, go here: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-in/bosnia-and-herzegovina
4. Contact any international animal welfare organisations you know, asking them to send letters as per the instructions above.
5. In order to investigate these contraventions of the Animal Welfare Law, activists need support. If you can assist in funding legal investigations please donate as per the instructions below via Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org, but make sure to mark your donation as ‘VAKUF’. We can also use funds to help poisoned dogs who survive but need veterinary care. Please join the AWABosnia Facebook group for updates.
COPY OF LETTER YOU CAN SEND TO SWEDISH EMBASSY (with thanks to Dalida Kozlic for drafting this for us)
Dear Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark,
Since the city Landskrona helps development of the municipality of Donji Vakuf in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as having a partnership relationship with Donji Vakuf, officials and authorities of Landskrona need to be aware of illegal and cruel atrocities that are currently happening in Donji Vakuf.
In March of 2015 stray dogs were poisoned using a variety of methods including crushed glass being added to food, bleach and other toxins. Many of the dogs killed had been sterilised in the local TNR campaign.
Please see the following information:
Unfortunately, another illegal and mass killing of stray dogs started in Donji Vakuf a few days ago. Dogs are being poisoned. Updates about this crime can be found also on the blog In Memory of Vucko above.
This is a violation of the Animal Protection and Welfare law of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is occurring in populated areas, as before.
Also, I want to inform you about the background of these atrocities that is connected with organised crime on the highest level of political organisation.
As you know, the Bosnian War was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. Casualties of the war were not only people. Animals also were casualties and suffered a lot 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 legislated and entered into force by Parliamentary Assembly in 2009. This Act for the Protection and Welfare of Animals is one of the best in Europe but nevertheless corrupt authorities are often involved in illegal killing of stray and wild animals because of money laundering.
Stray animals are victims of notorious abuse. Politically eligible people construct so-called shelters for stray animals, which really only have the a function of a concentration camp and then the officials invoice for false spay/neuter programs, as well as for food that is not in fact given to animals. Fake invoices are created for veterinary examinations and treatment, and the means for euthanasia. In reality, stray animals are being abused, harmed, and killed in the worst possible ways, by methods which the medieval Inquisition would envious. It is illegal and represents a series of violations of Criminal law as well as Animal Protection and Welfare Act of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Actually the Animal Protection and Welfare Act is an absolutely enforceable and functional law and that is not enforced because of political interests and personal enrichment as above.
The problem in Bosnia and Herzegovina is that the protection of animals is often identified with the financial situation in the country. It is a complete absurdity. Cases of animal abuse are not considered as awful, illegal acts and animal rescuers are presented as “fools” and people who “do not have anything better to do.” This shows that the society does not understand or concern themselves with beings unable to fight for themselves and their rights, as well as having a complete lack of empathy for those who suffer.
Prosecution of the perpetrators of crimes against animals very rarely occur. It is evident that it is not a necessary training of police officers, nor for prosecutors and judges. When it comes to the response of police officers, it usually goes in the direction that cases of animal abuse are considered an unimportant offence. Police officers and inspectors are not familiar with all the consequences and symptoms that animal abuse represents.
The problem of judicial institutions is similar.
The problem of overpopulation of stray dogs in Bosnia is a direct consequence of the failure to implement the laws, as well as a series of obstructions and misuse of the Act on the Protection and Welfare of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Act on Protection 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.
By attempting only a partial and non-systematic implementation of the Act, the suffering of stray dogs on the streets 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, implementing 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 give good care for stray animals until they are adopted. 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. Abandoning of animals by their owners is a direct generator of the problem, and the cause of abandoning of animals is the policy of impunity of people who abandon their animals. The only way to solve this problem is for municipalities and cantons to establish their own registries of ownership of animals, and this will significantly contribute to improving the situation in the canton, and then the entity and state level. Sarajevo Canton authorities have already been offered software for the registration 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 achieve the function of a general and special prevention and repression. 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 because of poor financial conditions, 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 can assist by financing 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 treatment 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 to solve the problem and to decrease the population of stray animals. Hygienic services must be established in accordance with the provisions of the law 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 Act for the Protection and Welfare of Animals, misuse and illegal killing in shelters and hygienic services can 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.
Preventing of abuse, which are 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 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.
In this particular case the city of Landskrona can help us to stop mass killing of stray dogs with its political and financial influence on authorities of Donji Vakuf and therefore I must emphasise that if money from the budget of Landskrona is used to finance development of Donji Vakuf, your moral obligation is to act in this case and require immediate action of authorities.
Email this particular letter to: email@example.com
And to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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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. 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.