04/19/24 Despite Institutions' Inactivity, Individuals Must Not Illegally Rescue Animals!

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Prompted by inquiries about the activities of the S-Pas Association, Animal Friends Croatia emphasizes the importance of legal care for animals

- Associations should set an example – every abandoned animal should be first registered through a shelter

The Animal Friends Croatia announced that in recent days, they have received several inquiries regarding the legality of the S-Pas Association's activities. Members of the Facebook group "Review of the S-PAS Association by Gloria Malin," signed as "Fighters for Justice and Truth," contacted Animal Friends, asking them to report on behalf them that the S-Pas Association takes in dogs without having a registered shelter. "We lead the Network for Animal Protection project, which consists of more than 50 animal protection associations that promote the importance of microchipping and neutering animals to prevent abandonment and uncontrolled breeding, as well as promoting adoption instead of purchasing pets. Since the S-Pas Association does not share these goals, it is not among the members of the Network," explained Animal Friends.

They state that they are therefore not thoroughly familiar with the work of the S-Pas Association and call on individuals who have any direct knowledge of misdemeanors and crimes against animals to report them to the competent authorities. "What generally concerns us is that, despite clear legal provisions, in Croatia, veterinarians, veterinary inspectors, municipal wardens, and registered shelters continue to violate regulations and operate as dog catchers, which we regularly report. In such a system, it is not surprising that some volunteers and associations bypass the law for the so-called higher purpose. We do not approve of this because animal protection associations should be a positive example of legal animal care!" emphasize Animal Friends Croatia.

They point out that neither private individuals nor associations may take in abandoned dogs and cats unless it is in accordance with the Animal Protection Act and the Animal Health Act. Persons who take in dogs from the streets and do not report them to a shelter, veterinarians who microchip such dogs to individual persons or associations, as well as veterinary inspectors who turn a blind eye to such illegal actions, are in violation of the law. For all dogs, whether abandoned, fostered, from breeding, or from another country, legal provisions require traceability. If someone does not have a registered shelter, then there is no traceability for abandoned animals, which means that there is no control over where the animal came from, whether it received treatment and all the requirements concerning animal health, and ultimately, where it was adopted.

"No one is allowed to collect a large number of animals and donations for their care for the purpose of adoption without having a shelter registered with the Ministry of Agriculture. If someone is involved in helping abandoned dogs and cats, they must have a contract with a shelter, and if they have more than nine animals, they must meet the conditions for keeping animals as a shelter does. If someone is responsible for more than 20 dogs or cats, then they must have a registered shelter. Animal hotels or temporary accommodations must also have a registered activity because the Law does not recognize dog nurseries and similar names," clarifies Animal Friends Croatia.

They add that this means that someone cannot squeeze 100 animals into a space of 40 square meters, where then one or two persons care for them, nor can these animals have adequate housing conditions: "All animals must be microchipped, neutered, and vaccinated, with records kept, and they must be regularly advertised for adoption. All of this, as well as catching and transporting animals, can only be done by trained individuals within the shelter system, not private animal protectors. Although legality does not always guarantee the welfare of animals, it must be the foundation of everyone's work. Otherwise, it is easy for animals to suffer due to the overload and burnout of one person who cares for dozens of dogs and cats. We cannot demand that inspections, municipal wardens, municipalities, cities, shelters, and citizens abide by the law if associations violate it, and vice versa! There are too many abandoned dogs and cats, but we cannot save them illegally."

They appeal to all associations and volunteers who want to help animals to establish a shelter and ensure that their registered and transparent work is subject to the supervision of animal housing conditions. The Regulation on the Conditions for Animal Shelters specifies simpler infrastructure requirements for shelter construction than the previous Regulation. The focus is on animal welfare in the shelter, efficient operation and advertising, and animal adoption. This allows for faster and easier construction and registration of animal shelters, which many associations have already done, working in accordance with regulations, essentially starting from scratch.

"Love for animals is not enough without meeting all the legal requirements for their care. Together, we should make additional efforts and report state institutions and units of local government for which we have knowledge that they are violating laws, and the same applies to citizens and associations. This is the only correct way to address the complex situation of caring for abandoned dogs and cats in Croatia," concludes Animal Friends Croatia.

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