09/12/11 A Letter to Veterinarians - Euthanasia
September 12, 2011
Based on numerous complaints from citizens and animal protection organizations, as well as our experiences with veterinarians in the field, we are taking the liberty to point out the problem of killing of dogs and cats which is done at the request of their owners.
Such a practice is against the Animal Protection Act (Official Gazette 135/06), which states that it is prohibited to kill animals, subject them to pain, suffering and injury, and intentionally expose them to fear, contrary to the provisions of this Act (Article 4, Paragraph 1). Furthermore, in Article 9, paragraphs 1 and 3 it is stipulated that the owner can make the decision to kill the animal only when a veterinarian determines that "medical treatment of the animal is likely to be long lasting and cause suffering, and the outcome of the treatment is uncertain" or if "the animal has reached an advanced age and its vital functions are failing."
Also, animal cannot be killed under the regulation of the Act which states that the animal constitutes a danger to the community (Article 9, paragraph 3, item 5), unless the Rulebook on Dangerous Dogs (Official Gazette 19/99), which precisely determines the procedure with dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs, has been followed.
It is obvious that killing young and healthy animals is forbidden, and very strict fines are stipulated under Article 66, Paragraph 1 of the Animal Protection Act which says: "A legal person shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine from HRK 50,000 to HRK 100,000 for killing animals contrary to the provisions of Article 9 of this Act. The responsible person of the legal person shall be fined from HRK 10,000 to HRK 15,000 for committing an offence from paragraph 1 of this Article, and a natural person shall be fined from HRK 10,000 to HRK 15,000."
Also, killing animals at the owner's request can be considered abandonment, which is contrary to the Animal Protection Act (Article 5, paragraph 1) and is punishable by a fine up to HRK 15,000.
Finally, euthanasia (Greek eu thanatos, Eng. mercy killing) means "good death" or "mercy killing," so only killing animals which are incurably ill can be considered euthanasia. Therefore, killing healthy animals cannot even be called euthanasia, regardless of the way it is done. Animal Protection Act emphasizes ethics and expertise of each individual veterinarian, who can judge when treatment could cause his or her patient too much suffering. Veterinarian should, regardless of the laws, save lives, instead of taking them.
Veterinarians have an important role in educating their patients' guardians, so we ask you to notify the owners of the animals who come to you with requests to kill the animals in their care. Moreover, it is necessary to report to the veterinary inspection every request to kill a healthy animal or threat of abandoning animals, in order to ensure that the Animal Protection Act is truly enforced.
We believe that we have a common aim, which is to respect the Animal Protection Act and other positive regulations regarding the protection and health of animals. Therefore we hope to achieve cooperation in animal protection. We invite you to join in our activities, especially in the project of the Network Against Abandoning Animals.