12/14/06 Animal Protection Act Has Been Passed
A law made for those that cannot fight for their own rights
Animals are being tortured and killed daily. People use them in every thinkable way. Animals become shoes, jackets, sausages and hams. They are being experimented on, being pushed to fight and race and even individual abuse isn't unusual.
In Croatia there currently is an active law in charge of animal welfare, it actually is called the Animal Welfare Act, however, everybody understands that there is nothing in this law that could be described as animal welfare. Animal Friends in 2002 started a campaign that would change the Animal Welfare Act. In the year of 2004 we had sent a proposal to the parliament which was refused for being too futuristic. In 2005 we started cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management on this new Animal Protection Bill. There were many discussions on the deficiency of the active law and it was obvious that a new law was to be drafted. First thing that had to be changed was its name. In this existing animal holocaust the word welfare was completely inappropriate. So the word welfare was changed into protection. For example: The law that prescribed minimum conditions for animal husbandry and keeping them alive only for the reason to eventually kill and use them for some kind of human satisfaction does not in a least way contribute to the definition of animal welfare. The development of the new Animal Protection Act unfortunately was not inspired out of deficiency of the old Act but because of the need to adjust to the European legislature. Of course, great influence to this came from the empathy of the local population. Even though both Acts look more like manuals that describe how to better kill and use animals, the new "manual" tries to contribute to violence control and further development of the Croatian legislature in regard to animal rights and protection. The old Act was only about the fish, birds and mammal's welfare. The new Act includes all vertebrates. However, this is not completely true either because in this new Act there is no word about hunt and fishing. The new law doesn't describe either animals as sensitive beings, although that may not be so important for the law enforcement, but this subject is definitely purposely avoided in order to allow animal killings and usage. Conclusion: The Animal Protection Act is definitely absurd because it protects animals and at the same time it allows people to use and kill them.
Let's go back to the vertebrates which are supposed to be protected by this new Act. Here we have to exclude hunters and fishermen who obviously may make their own laws. Nevertheless we have to say that this new law also brings some positive changes for animals hence we also believe that the only proper animal protection would be the one that completely bans animal exploitation and killings. Let's just mention one of them. The Croatian agency Spem Communication Group Zagreb made a survey where such idea was supported by 73,7% of the local population. The survey was about the ban for breeding animals for fur, which is part of the new Animal Protection Act, which will be active from the January 1, 2007 but with a transition period of one decade which means that animals will still be tortured and killed for someone's prestige and glamour.
According to the new law there are several prohibited procedures that will be contributed to animal protection. Examples: winning animals at competitions, dogs and cats pet shop sale etc. This in a far sense will prevent people from abandoning animals and thus abuse them. Exploitation of wild animal in circuses will also be prohibited. The fact that Animal Friends called on a prohibition of all animal acts in circuses has to be mentioned. It is also important to say that 29 Croatian towns accepted such prohibition. According to the law, it is prohibited to use wild animals in all kind of shows. Dog races are prohibited only on hard grounds; herewith the opportunity is left that this kind of animal exploitation will soon expand for bets and profit reasons. Inciting animals to be aggressive and agitating them into fighting is prohibited too. However, bull fighting is allowed because of a Dalmatian tradition that is practiced in a couple of villages. This primitive kind of fun could find its gaps in the law because of the ban of agitation of aggressive animals but much stronger, away from legislation, is the public's condemnation. The mentioned regulation accepted bull fighting but at the same time didn't prohibit permanent dog chaining, which is also a tradition in all Croatian villages, even tough this proposal was a much softer alternative than the same regulation from the Austrian law that strictly prohibits any kind of dog chaining because it is considered to be psychological and physical animal abuse.
Force feeding of animals as well as ritual slaughter is prohibited but religious slaughter without stunning is allowed.
In slaughterhouses exists a regulation that specifies the way animals should be slaughtered. Before the slaughter an animals must be stunned in a certain way. The new law points out that household slaughters, traditionally called backyard slaughter, must include stunning as well. However anyone is allowed to stun animals, not only professionals as it was proposed by Animal Friends Croatia. Hens and other poultry are not included in this category but, according to the Rule book on slaughter and killing, must be slaughtered by decapitation and not throat cutting. Even though the decapitation can't be called an animal protection, it is clear that most brutal act of man towards animal - slaughter - has to be somehow regulated by law. Real animal protection, which considers giving up of all violence to animals and which leads to a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle, will remain an unwritten law to the individual, which again becomes the base for common ethical conscience and written laws that will actually protect animals.
It should be mentioned that this Animal Protection Act is only partially adapted to the EU directives and that some changes will occur only by pressure when Croatia will join the EU. We honestly hope that Croatia will work according to the EU manual which states that all the countries should work on stronger animal protection even if that is not defined by the directives.
The Animal Protection Act prohibits animal abuse and also determines prosecution, which very much differs from the current Act. Abandoning animals on the streets is strictly forbidden too and this fact will definitely influence those who think of committing this horrible act. The law also regulates that assistance must be rendered to animals that are injured, which means that e.g. one hits an animal with the car, he/she is obliged to help him/her. Amputation of any parts of the body is prohibited, which includes clipping ears or tails on dogs, cat declawing, removing of vocal cords (debarking), etc. However, this leaves out animals in the production industry, which the law in many ways offers very little protection, e.g. castration of pigs without painkillers is still allowed.
According to the law, guardians should euthanize his/her animal when if s/he suffers terrible pain. Euthanasia of healthy animals is prohibited which will be of a great help to those companion animals whose owners want to get rid of them. From this regulative are excluded millions - from newborn to those who have been used for years - of animals that are killed just to become part of someone's menu.
The law regulates the transport of live animals and also brings a lot of positive changes. However, long transportation is still allowed and with it horrible sufferings that animals go through because of human greed and ruthlessness.
Experimenting on animals will be under a much greater supervision (breeding, living conditions, experiments etc.). Professional exams and the Ethical Committee are being introduced. Members of animal protection organizations will be members of this Ethical Committee and will express their opinion regarding experiments. However, tortures that are done in laboratories (in the name of science and profit) are still legal. We want to exclude regulatives which are not part of that principle. It is about rules that prohibit animal usage and killings for research and development of ingredients, combined ingredients and finished cosmetic products, as well as cosmetic and cleaning agents and disinfectants. It is important to mention that people are now much more careful about buying those products and avoid products that were tested on animals. Using animals for weaponry experiments and other war equipment is prohibited too. Even though Animal Friends proposed to ban all experiments done on primates and other wild aniamls on the CITES list of endangered animals, nothing on that subject is mentioned in the new law.
Experiments for educational purposes are unfortunately allowed but only under some extraordinary situations on universities. Experiments of that kind are completely prohibited in elementary and high schools. It is important to say that, until this regulation will not change, every student should be left the right to choose his/her ethical education and to have conscience objection without any consequences in his/her further education.
Beside the Ethical Committee, the new Act regulates development of the animal protection committee. Part of its structure will also be representatives of animal protection organizations whose purpose will be to actively work on the advancement of this legislation on animal rights and protection in Croatia.
Breeding animals, only to use parts of their bodies or secretions is still not prohibited. Even though there are a lot of decrees that regulate listing, breeding and usage issues, the only thing that can really help those animals is every citizen's diet choice. This law doesn't prohibit keeping hens in batteries. Neither does the law prohibit aquafarms, which are rapidly developing along the Adriatic cost and with it causing terrible damage to all fish as well as to the coast.
The future law will include regulations regarding wild animals and their protection. However, these changes must first be regulated in other acts. Using animals as baits for hunting is also prohibited unlike traps, which are not fully banned. In Croatia trading with exotic animals became very popular and it is unfortunately still allowed. This should definitely be regulated because all those people who are earning money from this kind of trade are using the citizen's ethical unconsciousness. The law regulates living conditions in zoos and will improve the minimal conditions for captured animals in those, but at the same time allows the existence of such animal prisons only to entertain people.
It is important to say that the law prohibits sale of animals to underage children. It points out that only professionals can sell animals and when selling they have to issue detailed instructions on how to treat it. This does not include dog and cat sale which is prohibited by this law. The future law obliges people to take care and control of reproduction and their offspring, and in case they don’t follow this order they will have to pay a fine and cover medical care.
Every county is obligated to finance shelters for abandoned animals as well as to provide veterinary care and possible home finding. The new law allows euthanasia execution after 60 day which gives animals a better chance to find a home and fluctuation of shelters, which is a better solution than the earlier suggested too little 30 days. However, allowing the killing of animals because of someone’s irresponsibility is not something that should be regulated by the law. These regulations should be the start of a complex solving of abandoning animals, which should include adopting programs, spay/neutering, vet care, home finding, as well as punishment of the irresponsible owners, not the abandoned animals.
The transition period for regulatives implementation is very long, up to two years, even to build animal shelters. For cows that are used for milk production it will still be allowed to keep them tied until 2012. The prohibition regarding breeding animals for fur will be active only from the 2017.
If a person kills or tortures animal, for instance, he/she will have to pay the fine in the amount of 10,000 to 15,000 kuna, and if animals are abandoned 5,000 to 15,000 kuna.
The veterinary inspection is in charge of this regulative execution and has the right to look after animals at any time. If they see that animals are not treated according to the law they will issue a warning or if necessary take the animals away and issue a fine and start criminal procedure. If the person still continues to abuse animals he/she will get a fine and a possibly permanent prohibition of keeping any kind of animals. If the same thing occurs in an institution they will be prohibited to work for one year. This law should also change the work of veterinary inspectors and enlarge their number; their only job would be to venerate the Animal Protection Act and its regulations.
This law also regulates the public conscience development, especially for the youth, about animal protection from the sides of institutions in charge of national and local authorities. We think that all national and public institutions, families and individuals should be part of that process.
The Croatian citizens should be introduced to the new Act to support its veneration. There still is a lot of work around this new Act to not just make it dead letters on a paper. Of course, conscientiousness of the legislature bodies will contribute to this goal. This Act definitely is only the beginning of the legislation in regard to animal protection, but so important for those who cannot fight for their own rights.