04/04/24 Horrific Case of Breeding Dogs for Fighting Exposed

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Animal Friends Croatia filed a complaint to the State Inspectorate against a psychiatrist from Split who exploited sixty-nine animals

- Committing a criminal offense and several other serious offenses, the perpetrator did not keep a large number of animals as pets nor was he a registered dog breeder

Last week, Animal Friends Croatia pointed out that sixty-seven dogs and two wolves, discovered on site in Split city centre, were bred and kept for dog fighting. There is a clear indication that wolves were crossbred with dogs to increase dogs’ aggression and combative character. Working with solicitor Marijo Hrupec, the group filed a complaint to the Croatian State Inspectorate against a psychiatrist employed at the University Hospital in Split, who is claimed by fellow citizens to have been breeding dogs for fighting for the past fifteen to twenty years, with dogfight bet wins reaching as much as 50,000 euros in one weekend.

“Definite indicators of numerous regulatory offenses have been determined both on the site and on dogs, directly impacting the health and welfare of animals in question. Consequently, we requested an urgent and comprehensive veterinary inspection from Zagreb, as we have justifiable reasons to doubt the efficacy of the local veterinary inspection, to gather facts and to impose relevant sanctions. Based on the belief that the reported psychiatrist and several other persons under whose names some of the dogs were microchipped, were keeping dogs for the purpose of breeding and dogfighting, we believe it is necessary to remove all animals from their care and prevent them from keeping or procuring new ones. If dogs need to be rehomed as a group, we propose it be strictly handled by a registered dog shelter involving trained professionals,” emphasises Animal Friends Croatia.

This is particularly relevant since the dogs in question are highly traumatized showing expressed behavioural anomalies. “Despite their considerable number, most dogs are quiet. They do not bark, or they bark little or rarely, which is not common dog behaviour, especially in a pack. This is indicative of violent training measures used to cover up the fact that such a large number of animals were kept on this site. Witnesses claim that the dogs, mainly Staffordshire Bull Terriers, show fear in the presence of human males. The dogs have never been out on a walk as there would have been witnesses, furthermore, walking sixty-seven dogs every day is a near-impossible task. Considering the animals in question are dog fighting breeds, it is almost certain that they were never let off chains as that would have led to fights inside the group. We have received information that some of the dogs have back leg muscle atrophy – a clear indicator of movement restriction,” state Animal Friends Croatia.

The filed complaint, among others, reports on dogs being kept on short chains which forced them to remain in one place or move in circles as far as the chain length permitted. They carried double or even triple collars with locks, while some of them were simultaneously chained and locked in cages. The dogs had no food containers nor were they used to eating from containers as they were fed by pieces of raw meat thrown at them. Once the dirty and fetid water containers had been cleaned by volunteers, the dogs eagerly drank from them. It is evident that the Split psychiatrist bred these animals purposefully because a crossbred mongrel of a wolf and dog female was found with two puppies, as well as another female dog with four puppies, whereas a third one was saved by delivering puppies in a c-section performed at the Dubrovnik animal shelter. Several days ago, volunteers had to prevent a male and a female dog from mating despite both being chained.

“Some of the dogs have scars all over their heads and bodies, torn ears, oozing eye infections, injured paw pads, etc. In other words, the dogs did not receive any veterinary care. Some of them are visibly scared, anxious, and withdrawn, while others are noticeably and atypically aggressive. It is heartbreaking to witness a Kangal Shepherd Dog biting its own leg, attacking it, and growling at it as it perceives its leg as a foreign body due to extensive psychological trauma. Volunteers noticed skin conditions among some of the dogs, raising suspicion of chronic leishmaniasis,” list Animal Friends Croatia, demanding action.

The filed complaint further states that the Split psychiatrist held sixty-nine animals in a well-hidden location completely lacking necessary conditions for keeping this number of animals. He systematically neglected them over an extended period, treating them without any regard for existing regulations. He did all this as a private person, without micro-chipping most dogs or vaccinating them against rabies. He did not keep dogs as pets, register as a breeder with the Ministry of Agriculture, or keep an animal shelter – in other words, he violated the provisions of the Animal Health Act and the Animal Protection Act and their corresponding rulebooks in every respect of his actions.

Most dogs found at the site were strong breeds such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers, in addition to two wolves and a wolfdog. The means and conditions of animal keeping, the site’s infrastructure and the recovered objects, animals’ physical and psychological condition, the level of neglect given dogs’ health and accommodation, pain-inducing restriction of movement, suffering and injuries, as established by the police, give rise to reasonable doubt that the site was used for fighting dog breeding, which is strictly forbidden by the Animal Protection Act. Animal Friends Croatia emphasizes the unfortunate situation could have been averted if the City of Split, currently responsible for providing care for all recovered dogs, had carried out the mandatory dog micro-chipping checks.

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