Bosnian public shelters for stray dogs – A True Horror Story

By Dalida Kozlic, lawyer and activist in BiH:

Stray dogs have always been killed in Bosnia. Before the legislation of the Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals in 2009, organised groups of hunters had killed stray dogs in all cities, even in the middle of the day. It had been illegal, but no one had wanted to investigate and punish hunters because they had received a lot of money from Bosnian municipalities for these atrocities.

Gladnopuppies copyThe Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals of Bosnia and Herzegovina was legislated and entered into force by the Parliamentary Assembly in 2009. Also, torturing and killing animals is a criminal offence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to provisions of the Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals every municipality is obliged to establish and finance shelters for stray animals as well as hygienic services that are obliged to catch and transport stray animals to 1794744_10152361893331080_2473322703677950794_nveterinary stations and shelters. Two very important ordinances were legislated in 2010: Ordinances on both establishing shelters and the conditions that shelters for stray animals and hygienic services must fulfil. Both ordinances provide very strict and humane ways of establishing and maintaining of shelters and hygienic services. Bosnia and Herzegovina has one of the best animal welfare legislations in Europe, but the reality is different and cruel for stray animals.

There are many illegal shelters for stray animals that are established and led by persons who are close to Bosnian authorities. Politically eligible persons construct so-called shelters for stray animals, which have the function of concentration camps, and they invoice false spay/neuter programs, as well as for food Gladnoawfulthat would never be given to animals; veterinary examinations and treatment, and the means for euthanasia.  In fact. animals are tortured and killed in those shelters constantly.  Animals are beaten, cut, clubbed, raped or tortured in many horrific ways. Animals do not have water, food, accommodation, they freeze or they are exposed to extremely high temperatures. Also, animals are killed with wires, clubs, glass shreds, poison and also fire arms. While all these atrocities happen, local authorities finance people who own those shelters. Also, there are 1475885_770877902939000_260306746_nmany illegal hygienic services that receive money from budgets of different municipalities. Those hygienic services kill stray animals, but they receive money for food, medications, treatments, catching of stray animals as well as their placement as they are alive.

Nobody knows how many illegal public shelters exists in Bosnia. There are public shelters in Praca, Hresa, Gladno Polje, Hadzici, Tesanj, Jajce, Bratunac, Bihac, Sanski Most, Banja Luka, Prnjavor, Doboj, Trebinje, Foća, Goražde.

In some of those shelters activists and rescuers are allowed to come and feed and help dogs. Those shelters are Gadno Polje, Banja Luka and Prnajvor. Conditions are very bad and activists struggle to help dogs, but at least dogs are not illegally killed and they are fed and treated. Since municipalities do not give enough money for those shelters, and food and 1379787_10202389002909199_1658533155_nveterinary costs are financed by activists and donators. It is not good solution because local authorities must fulfil their legal obligations and finance shelters in accordance with Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals, but it is the only way to keep an eye on authorities and protect stray dogs in those shelters. It is necessary to work constantly on legalisation of those shelters and adjustment of shelters as it is required by the law.

Praca shelter, the only registered and the biggest shelter in Bosnia also has a lot of problems. It is overcrowded, but at least people are allowed to donate some food and medications for dogs. This shelter should have been financed by all municipalities of Canton Sarajevo, but after it had been published how much budget money had been spent for illegal activities, the shelter was forgotten but many new dogs have been placed there.

xxxThe situation is much worse in shelters that cannot be visited by anyone. It is common practice to establish illegal shelters – pounds in former military buildings that are no longer used by the Bosnian military. Those buildings are hidden, surrounded by hectares of the land and huge fences. Those places are perfect for killing of stray dogs. Most of them were built by the former Yugoslavian army and therefore they were very complicated to be visited or to see what it was going one in there.

One of such former military base that is used as illegal pound is the casern Safet Zajko in Sarajevo, which is used by a notorious and illegal group of dog catchers that has been established in municipality Novi Grad Sarajevo. There have been killed thousands of stray dogs.

bihac_18_894824008Also, illegal pounds have been established in former military buildings in Hadzici, Tesanj and Jajce. No one has ever visited those buildings. Local people have confirmed as well as local authorities that “shelters” have been established in those buildings. There are no records of how many dogs have been caught and placed there. Caught dogs that are taken in those buildings have never been found again.

The pattern is similar with other illegal shelters, which are not placed in former military buildings. Most of them are placed in some unusual, old and destroyed buildings.

208674_587515221260272_1966183606_nBecause of the obvious money laundering through illegal shelters, Bosnian authorities want to have more stray dogs on the streets. If there are a lot of dogs on the streets, than more dogs can be killed and more money can be stolen. If people abandon dogs and if stray dogs are not spayed/neutered, then there will always be enough dogs to be killed by corrupt authorities who take money for dead dogs.

The only solution that can save Bosnian stray animals is to implement Act on Protection and Welfare of Animals in all its provisions and to establish system that is provided by the law.


Shelters in Bosnia Herzegovina
What to do about Gladno Polje Shelter in Sarajevo?
Uncertain future for Dogs at Gladno Polje Shelter in Sarajevo
Saving the Dogs of Gladno Polje, Bosnia
Veterinary Office of Bosnia: is it possible to solve the problem of stray dogs?
Another Horror Shelter in Bosnia

Saving Lucia and the dogs of Foča and Gorazde
Dog Shelters in Bosnia: A Complex Situation
Horror Camps for Animals in Bosnia
Concentration Camp for Man’s Best Friend
Concentration Camp for Man’s Best Friend PART TWO
Mass Graves Found Near Dog “Shelter”
Hresa Shelter:
Part One – Part Two – Part Three – Part Four – Part Five – Part Six – Part Seven


Funds are needed not only to help individual rescues and to help us keep safe the rescued dogs we are sponsoring but also to continue our advocacy work in Bosnia, 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: as a ‘gift’. 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. 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.