05/23/12 Against Limiting the Number of Animals

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City of Daruvar
c/o Bruno Maric
Trg Kralja Tomislava 14
43500 Daruvar

May 22, 2012

Dear Mr. Maric,

We bring to your attention a call we received from the people of Daruvar in regards to the newly passed Decision on the Conditions and manner of holding house pets, controlling their reproduction, the rearing conditions of said pets and the treatment of abandoned and lost animals of the City Council of Daruvar.

We can justifiably argue that the above-mentioned Decision is in contrast to the Animal Protection Act and the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia and so we ask that you propose a revision of the Decision at the Ctiy Council meeting in Daruvar.

The Decision states that:

"One is not allowed to keep more than three adult dogs on plots surrounding a family house, gardens or similar plots of land except in the case of dog kennels and spaces otherwise registered for said activity.

In exceptional circumstance, one is allowed to keep more than three dogs with the consent of a veterinary inspection."

This is contrary to the Croatian Constitution; the relevant provisions of the Croatian Constitution are as follows:

Article 14 paragraph 1

"All persons in the Republic of Croatia shall enjoy rights and freedoms, regardless of race, color, gender, language, religion, political or other conviction, national or social origin, property, birth, education, social status or other characteristics."

The disputed provision places any citizen who wishes to have more than three dogs as pets, for personal reasons, at an unfair disadvantage in comparison to kennels or shelters which keep dogs for profit. These dog owners are discriminated against solely on the basis of the humane reasons for keeping their pets, and not because of their impact on the public interest or public order, because the impact is identical in all cases.

Registered dog owners with more than three dogs in their possession respect all positive regulations pertaining to the care of animals and public order and, by taking care of unwanted, sick and injured animals in their own backyards, also protect public interest. These owners are deprived of the constitutionally guaranteed right to equality in executing ownership rights in relation to other owners (who own animals such as horses, cats, guinea pigs, or the like) simply based on the kind of pet they own.

Article 16 paragraph 1

"Freedoms and rights may only be curtailed by law in order to protect the freedoms and rights of others, the legal order, and public morals and health."

"Any restriction of freedoms or rights shall be proportionate to the nature of the need to do so in each individual case."

The Daruvar City Council has no authority to limit ownership rights of individuals with its decision, which it does in Article 17 paragraph 1 by determining the number of pets an individual may own. Limiting the number of pets owned by a citizen is not regulated by Croatian law.

Also, there is no justification for the invasion of freedom and rights stated in Article 16 paragraph 1 and 2 of the Constitution.

If all dogs are micro chipped, (i.e., registered with Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development ownership records), vaccinated as required by the Ordinance of said Ministry and kept, in accordance with the provisions of the disputed Decision, in an enclosed space with an evident warning sign, this subsequently show that they in no way constitute a threat to the freedom or rights of other people, the public order, public morality or public health.

Furthermore, the disputed Decision maintains no criteria by which it specifies the way an owner of a larger number of pets endangers the freedom and rights of others, the public morality and health. It is completely unclear in what way a person with four pets - dogs, threatens the freedom and rights of others, their morality and health, while simultaneously a one-pet owner does not, and with the absence of stipulations fails to provide premise for any restriction on the freedom or rights of the owner because no scale of the nature of such for restriction exist.

Furthermore, Article 48 paragraph 1 states the following:

"The right of ownership shall be guaranteed."

Presently, within the Croatian legal system (although this is, from a humane point of view, a hardly defendable thesis), animals have the legal status of things and are the subjects of property rights. The Constitution protects these rights in the same manner as any other property or intellectual property rights. The City of Daruvar will cause non-pecuniary damages to the emotionally attached dog owners as well as damaging the market value of said animals by limiting the number of dogs per household or taking the dogs with no legal basis, all based on the disputed Decision.

One may conclude, then, that the City of Daruvar usurped authority through its regulation by restricting or rescinding property, with no indemnification, which is a violation of Article 50 paragraph 1 of the Constitution which belongs exclusively to the Croatian Parliament:

"In the interest of the Republic of Croatia, ownership may be restricted or rescinded by law, subject to indemnification equal to the market value of the pertinent property."

II The disputed provision of Article 17 Decision is illegal hereafter.

The Animal Protection Act states in Article 58 paragraph 4, the following:

7 The protection of companion animals

Article 58

"The requirements for and the manner of keeping companion animals, the manner of controlling their reproduction, the requirements for and the manner of keeping tethered dogs, and the manner of handling lost and abandoned animals shall be prescribed by competent municipality or city authorities, except in regards to companion animals belonging to a protected species in accordance with separate legislation."

Keeping in mind the authority vested in the City of Daruvar by Article 58 paragraph 4 of the Animal Protection Act to adopt the disputed Decision, it is evident that no one word in said provision authorizes local governments to determine the number of animals owned by individuals, nor does it give authority to the Veterinary Inspection to determine exceptions to this rule based on discretionary grading.

The City Council thus, exceeded its authority and directly transgressed provisions of Article 5 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Constitution which read:

"In the Republic of Croatia, laws shall comply with the Constitution. Other regulations shall comply with the Constitution and law.

All persons shall be obliged to abide by the Constitution and law and respect the legal order of the Republic of Croatia."

Furthermore, and as reads the subtitle above the afore-mentioned provision, it is clear that the legal authority was granted solely for the purpose of promoting the protection of animals and not to suspend or restrict the statutory rights and liberties granted to their owners by the Constitution.

The provisions of Article 17 paragraph 1 of the Decision are inconsistent with the provisions of the Animal Protection Act, which regulates the handling of animals, since the law itself does not envisage the possibility of abandoning or killing animals which are cared for and whose needs are met, let alone seizing ownership under the general act of a local government. Furthermore, Article 9 of the same Act stipulates the conditions for when an animal may be killed, but does not provide the possibility of killing an animal because it is deemed, by the local government, a surplus within a household which is the intention of passing this unconstitutional and illegal provision.

In reality, there are individuals who abuse and hold animals in unsatisfactory conditions just as there are individuals and families with excellent living conditions that can provide a happy and fulfilled life to a larger number of house pets. So, the only valid criterion in keeping pets should be to satisfy conditions already set by law which state the adequate conditions for keeping animals and the ethical treatment of them, with control already given to the Veterinary Inspectors in charge.

Please feel free to contact us should you have any further questions.


Luka Oman

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