11/26/14 Tortured Horses on Velebit Fall Under the Weight of Wood

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Animal Friends calls authorities to most severely sanction the abusers

- Animal Friends says that it is neccessary to ban the exploitation of horses as so called working animals

After receiving a number of e-mails and online social network announcements from disgusted citizens who have been informing about the horses that are being abused in woods of Velebit by Gracac, Animal Friends sent reports to the Ministry of Agriculture and District Attorny. Besides seeking the protection of animals and severe punishing of responsible individuals, Animal Friends repetead its demand to change the Animal Protection Act provisions in order to ban the exploitation of horses as so called working animals and thus ensure their effective protection.

In the photos posted on their Facebook profiles by Adis Dizdarevic and Izet Muratovic, one can see exhausted horses, overloaded with huge amount of logs and collapsing under their loads. It seems that one of the horses is dead, while on another photo, next to an overloaded horse, one can see two above mentioned men who said on their Facebook profiles that they were from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that the photographs of horses carrying logs on their backs were taken on Velebit by Gracac. After condemning comments were made by members of online social networks because of the treatment of the horses, the photos were deleted from their profiles.

Animal Friends say that the photographs illustrate the regular practice on Velebit where horses are brutally used for harvesting wood. Apart from the fact that foreign nationals, and even Croatians, are illegally cutting down Velebit's trees, they are also breaking the Animal Protection Act and the Criminal Law because of this conscious and deliberate animal torture. Animal Friends reported similar case to the authorities in 2006, when they documented horrible images of horsed with open wounds who dragged logs every day from the woods in Bregana for Sumarija Samobor.

They say that horses are forced to carry heavy logs without being given food and water which is why they often collapse under their load, suffer painfully and are left to die, which is documented on photographs. Even though horse exploitation for work is not yet banned by law, it is clear here that the horses are forced to work harder than their physical strength allows and that their owners are mistreating them without mercy.

Animal Friends point out that during such heavy physical work, the horses' legs and backs suffer. Even from long term exposure to the weight of a rider, blood circulation can be cut off to important areas due to constant pressure on the back muscle tissues. Tissue deformation in a horse's back starts after 12-15 minutes of being exposed to the weight of a rider, and after 30 minutes there is also pain. Everything after 30 minutes can cause trauma to the tissue, such as partial or full muscle dystrophy. The total weight of the wood that is loaded on the horses exceeds the weight of the average rider, which means that the horses are exposed to unimaginable pain. This forced physical labor illustrates a callous disregard for the horses' health and lives.

Animal Friends also remind that the aforementioned animal abuse and torture clearly shows that provisions to the Animal Protection Act have been broken, especially those provisions that forbid inflicting pain, suffering and injury to animals; exposing animals to fear, unfavourable temperatures and weather conditions; and neglecting animals with regards to their health, housing, diet and care.

Animal Friends organization shares the experts opinion that susing horses as working animals has no point in 21st century, when heavy physical jobs have been transferred from a man to modern machines. Experts state that using animal strength in forestry had stopped as completely unnecessary at the beginning of 1960s, because that's when forestry machinery had been developed that can operate on any terrain, even very steep one, and it is much more effective than any animal.

Animal Friends organization shares the experts opinion that there is no point to using horses as working animals in the 21st century when heavy physical jobs have been transferred from man to modern machines. Experts state that using animal labor in forestry became unnecessary at the beginning of the 1960s when forestry machinery was developed and could operate on any terrain, even steep terrain, making it more effective than animal labor.

Animal Friends conclude that using horses for labor in the 21st century is neither ethical nor needed. In Croatia, which is striving to modern and progressive values, there is no room for outdated, abusive and unacceptable treatment of animals.

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