06/22/12 Stop Killing and Reopen the Shelters!

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Animal Friends invites to a demo for the urgent reopening of shelters

- Veterinary inspectors threatened those who would not give up their puppies with a fine of 20,000 kuna; they killed a dog in front of a group of children in the street, while the adopter fainted in shock

Croatian public is appalled at the shameful conduct of veterinary inspection and the massacre of healthy animals and mourns the innocent victims of needless and unbelievably coldblooded killing. The adopters are still grieving.

Last Friday, veterinary inspectors began killing, in complete secrecy, dogs and cats in the Zagreb Shelter for abandoned animals in Dumovec, shelter of Noah's Ark association, and in homes of people who had recently adopted a dog from these shelters, closing down both of them. When the information leaked into the open, Ministry of Agriculture stated that the animals were being killed because of the rabies hazard, and that the source of infection was Dumovec, from which Rea, a dog of "unknown age," had been adopted and then suffered an attack of another dog at the adopter’s place, after which it turned out to be infected with rabies. However, it is evident and clear from the statement of Rea's guardian that rabies appeared in the area where Rea found her new home, rather than in Dumovec, where there had never been any rabies hazard. Besides the false accusation that there was rabies in Dumovec, the Ministry of Agriculture accused the shelter of unprofessional work and illegal methods in giving puppies for adoption, which is a lie, since both shelters work in accordance with all legal regulations and are regularly controlled by the veterinary inspection.

The inspectors killed 18 dogs and 2 cats at Dumovec shelter, which were in the quarantine at the time, among which a dog called Figo was an elderly dog, last vaccinated against rabies a year ago. They killed 3 dogs and 9 cats at Noah’s Ark shelter, even though it is more than 20 metres away from Dumovec, there is no contact between the animals, and the rabies virus is not air-borne, only transmitted by mutual contact such as bites, or occasionally by salivation. Two of the killed dogs were there temporarily while their guardians were away, and they had been vaccinated against rabies regularly, last time in May 2011, which means that the veterinary inspectors must have known that those dogs could not contract rabies, despite which they killed them. Even though the inspection stated that the animals were put to death in order to protect human health, it is significant that in both shelters the inspectors ordered the dead animals to be incinerated, instead of sending them to the Croatian Veterinary Institute in order to make sure whether the animals had been rabies positive and undertake further measures regarding humans who had been in contact with them. However, both shelters sent the bodies to the Institute on their own account, where it turned out that none of the animals had been rabies positive.

Veterinary inspectors killed 15 dogs from Dumovec at the homes of their adopters, who said that the inspectors entered their property and killed the animals on the spot, in front of shocked children and other family members, and that they were taking the dogs away from them by using force and threats. From some adopters they even demanded 300 kuna for killing the dogs, in one case they packed the puppy in a plastic bag that they found in the house, and they also used the fact that some of the elderly adopters were confused, so the inspector would engage them in conversation, while the technician would go to the bathroom with the dog and kill it. In case of an elderly gentleman, they intended to kill the dog in his yard, and when he resisted, they took the dog into the street and killed it there, in front of a group of children waiting for the bus, while the man fainted in shock while the squealing dog was being dragged out of the yard. At some homes, the inspectors did not undertake any disinfection, saying that the virus could not resist heat for more than half an hour, and they also told the adopters that humans did not have to be vaccinated before the laboratory tests were ready. They also shamelessly lied by saying that there was no possibility of taking the dogs to the quarantine and test them to the virus, claiming that they must kill the dogs immediately. Therefore, the Ministry's statement that all adopters agreed to having a member of their family put to death is shocking and completely inhumane. It indicates not only the violation of law, but also complete moral deprivation of the veterinary inspectors. The Ministry of Agriculture first claimed that the dogs were "taken away" and then "euthanized" at the veterinary stations, but eventually had to admit that seven dogs were killed at people's homes. Rabies at Dumovec had never been proven, there was no quarantine and no testing, and no animals should have died before it were established through testing whether they were rabid or not.

The inspectors killed both the vaccinated and unvaccinated animals, denying the legal possibility of quarantine and triple clinical observation during a ten-day period, which the adopters asked for. Some of the killed dogs had been vaccinated against rabies on several occasions, only not in 2012. Anti-rabies vaccination produces immunity up for to three years, which confirms that the killing of these animals had nothing to do with the rabies hazard, only with the overt violation of law and with immoral cruelty.

A series of illogical statements and lies on the side of the Ministry of Agriculture indicates numerous errors and unprofessionalism of those who decide on the fate of abandoned animals. They concealed the fact that most adopted animals that were killed were puppies, younger than three months at the moment of adoption, which is why according to the legal acts issued by the Ministry they could not be vaccinated against rabies before they were three months old – but the inspectors also killed those animals that were more than three months old and had recently been properly vaccinated. The inspectors proceeded in an illegal, arbitrary, and barbaric manner, spreading false rumours about rabies and using this dangerous disease in order to hide their sadism. It is a shame to speak of euthanasia in this case, since they killed innocent healthy animals, and therefore those who are responsible for this action should be fired from their workplaces and punished as foreseen by the law.

With this massacre of dogs and cats, the Ministry did huge and long-term material and moral damage to the city of Zagreb and its inhabitants, and especially to animal shelters and care for abandoned animals in general. It sent the message to the public that both humans and animals must fear veterinary inspection and that the government protects those who violate the law, kill animals, and humiliate people, while at the same time they attack those who obey the law and fight for the lives of all animals by following the policy of non-killing and by investing great efforts in the adoption of animals. The inspectors had no confirmation or evidence of Dumovec as the focal point of disease, and they acted like some sort of an Inquisition, evading a host of legal regulations and ethical solutions that could have been applied without killing the animals. Veterinary Inspection will be the real culprit if it comes to a genuine rabies hazard, since it is because of such events that people will tend to hide their dogs rather than trust the institutions.

Animal Friends invites everyone to protest against further killing of healthy dogs and for the urgent reopening of the two shelters, where there have been no rabies hazard. The demo will take place on Friday, June 22, 2012, at 1:00 P.M. at Trg bana Jelacica in Zagreb. There will also be a commemorative procession from Trg bana Jelacica Square to Trg Petra Preradovica and back, for Figo, Fortuna, Simba, Silvie, Snoopy, Lena, Silver, Giga, Stella, Mali, Debra, Tor, and many other innocent victims of veterinary inspection, with their photographs and burning candles. Some of the adopters of killed animals will join the protest.

The two best Croatian animal shelters have been closed down in the middle of summer, when the number of abandoned animals is at its peak, which makes the inspectors responsible not only for the animals they killed with their own hands, but also for all those who will die because they will not find a shelter to take them, or nobody will be willing to adopt them.

Animal Friends will press charges against the veterinary inspectors that put animals to death, and we have also invited the guardians of the killed animals to raise charges against them. This scandal at the Ministry of Agriculture confirms what animal protection associations have been calling attention to for many years – that the veterinary inspection does not function properly, that its officials violate the law instead of enacting it, and that it should be urgently and thoroughly reformed. It is necessary to establish an inspection for animal welfare, given the fact that the existing inspection engages in killing animals and abusing people.

Minister of Agriculture, Tihomir Jakovina, promised in conversation with Luka Oman, president of Animal Friends, that the killing of healthy animals would stop and that the animal shelters would be reopened. He also stated that he would personally see that the legal regulation according to which animals may be killed in shelters after 60 days should be abolished, and he also admitted the need of reforming the veterinary inspection. If Zagreb, the city with the largest number of people and animals in Croatia, can give animals for adoption instead of killing them after 60 days of keeping them at the shelter, then other Croatian cities and towns can do it as well. Animal Friends expects that Minister Jakovina will proceed according to his promises and proceed so as to achieve the necessary change at the Ministry and prevent such scandalous behaviour of the veterinary inspection in the future.

We would like to thank all those who support the shelters and the adopters of the killed dogs and we invite everyone to join our activities to help animals.

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