05/18/21 Law professor: The issue of chained dogs should be decided by the minister, not the cities and municipalities

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Prof. dr. sc. Boris Bakota from the Faculty of Law in Osijek points out the need to change the Law

- In addition to the Croatian Association of Cities, the ban on keeping dogs on a chain was supported by the Croatian Association of Counties

More and more institutions and individuals support the initiative of the Shelter for Animals Friends from akovec, the Victory Association and Animal Friends Croatia, and more than 50 members of the Network for the Protection of Animals, which launched the campaign "For Croatia without dogs on a chain". The Animal Welfare Act stipulates that it is prohibited to keep dogs permanently on a chain or to keep them in separate dog-keeping areas without allowing free movement outside that area. "At first it seems to us that this is a laudable and positive legal provision which will finally prevent dogs from being chained and prevent a complete disregard for those dogs. However, a closer reading shows that this is actually a good intention, but a very vague provision", says prof. dr. sc. Boris Bakota, lawyer and university professor at the Faculty of Law in Osijek.

He explains that, in practice, it is impossible to check whether someone keeps dogs chained at all times or not: “We assume that everyone will defend themselves in front of the municipal warden by stating they’ve just walked the dog or unchained it and let it walk freely in the yard a short while ago. We can even assume that the dog may have actually been released from the chain by the owner for a while, but the question is what is the length of the time that can determine that the dog is not constantly being chained. The dog we released from the chain on Wednesday for 30 minutes was not permanently tied that day, but no one released it the following day. Do we take ‘constantly’ into the context of a day, a week, a month, or even an entire life? On the other hand, it is necessary to ask, if we take one day, for example, whether it is enough to let the dog off the chain for 30 minutes or two hours, or even if one second is enough since a second of not being chained means that the dog is not constantly tied to a chain. He, therefore, suggests deleting the word "permanently".

Prof. dr. sc. Bakota also cites another absurdity, which is why it is necessary to completely ban dogs from being kept on a chain by making legal changes. The Animal Protection Act also prescribes that the representative bodies of local self-government units are obliged to adopt a general act that will prescribe the conditions and manner of keeping pets, i.e. also regulate the part related to keeping dogs on chains. "There are 556 municipalities and cities in the Republic of Croatia that should adopt such an act. The word 'permanent' will be open to interpretation in the Republic of Croatia in 556 different ways", points out the only professor of animal rights in Croatia.

The Animal Protection Act stipulates that the Minister of Agriculture issues ordinances regulating the manner of keeping calves, pigs, chickens and hens that are bred and used for production purposes, the manner of keeping animals in a zoo, the manner of keeping animals in a shelter, etc. "Such regulations for keeping these animals are not passed by each local government unit for itself, but uniform conditions are applied throughout the country. It is unclear why the ordinance on the conditions and manner of keeping pets would also not be passed by the Minister and thus equally prohibit the keeping of dogs on a chain or at least clearly define what it means to have a dog permanently tied ", notes prof. Bakota, also proposing the adoption of regulations on a national level.

He points out that it is not realistic to expect that all 556 local self-government units will properly solve the issue of conditions and ways of keeping pets. Some did not even make such decisions, while some of them did not comply with the previous provisions of the Animal Protection Act. Associations believe that change is in the interest of local communities that the decision is made on the state level because it greatly facilitates the implementation of legal provisions. "These are ethical issues and standards of dog keeping in the 21st century, and not issues of public transport, garbage collection, landscaping, etc.," warns prof. Bakota. He concludes that it is necessary to delete the word "permanently" from the Animal Protection Act and to oblige the Minister to regulate the conditions and manner of keeping pets by an ordinance.

The associations added that the practice shows that a complete ban on keeping dogs on a chain would mean greater security for people because dogs kept on a chain are not socialized precisely because of such practices. They say that, in addition to the Croatian Association of Cities, the Croatian Association of Counties recently supported the campaign and the request for a legal ban on keeping dogs on a chain. They invite everyone to sign the petition on www.zabranimolanac.net and share it on social networks, and they can also write to the Government at gradjani@vlada.hr and the Minister of Agriculture at kabinet@mps.hr asking for a complete legal ban on keeping dogs on a chain.

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