Clarification Regarding the Enforcement of Mandatory Dog Microchipping

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October 28, 2016

To Whom It May Concern:

We wish to clarify that we have sent the letter with the intention to remind local self-governments that, according to the 2013 Animal Protection Act, the enforcement of the Act regarding the conditions of keeping and treating house animals is under the jurisdiction of the municipal peace officers, meaning the very local communities, not veterinary clinics. This is regulated by Article 60 of the Act, which states: "The implementation of the regulations under Article 58, paragraph 4 of this Act is the charge of municipal officers or the administrative body of local government in charge of municipal services, unless the law or special regulations prescribe a specific course of action by a veterinary or livestock inspector." It refers to Article 58: "The conditions and manners of keeping pets, manners of controlling their reproduction, conditions and manners of keeping tethered dogs, and manners of dealing with abandoned and lost animals are prescribed by the municipal or city representative bodies under the by-laws, except for pets belonging to protected species in accordance with special regulations."

The objective of microchipping checks is to detect guardians who have shunned the law and have not microchipped their dogs. To our knowledge, they represent 20-30% of the population in almost all Croatian cities and municipalities. In order to better visualize the extent of the problem, it is useful to imagine a situation where this percentage of drivers drive unregistered vehicles, which would have dire consequences.

Microchipping checks, therefore, cannot be carried out by veterinarians nor done during vaccination in veterinary clinics. They are a responsibility of municipal officers, who should carry a microchip reader and visit homes in their areas. We are aware that municipal officers do not have a right to enter private property, but the experience of local communities that have started to carry out these checks confirms that up to 90 percent of citizens allow municipal officers to enter their property if the officer explains why he/she is there and that the penalty for neglecting to microchip a dog is up to 6 thousand kunas. If they encounter a dog that is not chipped, the sufficient measure is usually to warn the guardian and set a deadline to comply with the legal obligation. In the rare cases when citizens cause problems during the visit of municipal officers, the municipal officer may request the help of a police officer.

We are also aware that this is yet another task for the already overburdened municipal officers and that in most parts of our country there are not enough of them. Some local communities have decided to address this problem by implementing the "quick check actions," that is, a municipal officer visits only a small part of town or a few streets, after which the word about the checks spreads rapidly and organically among the citizens. Such actions regularly result in many people opting to comply with their obligations and veterinary clinics record a significant increase in microchipping in the area after such action.

Our goal is to help local communities in properly implementing the Act because it saves money in the long run. Microchipping is also a very important preventive against dog abandonment. This is important because every abandoned dog needs to be provided for by a shelter, which is an additional cost for the local community. It is, of course, impossible to trace a former guardian of an abandoned dog if the animal has not been chipped.

In conclusion, the Act clearly defines who is responsible for the inspection of mandatory microchipping, which therefore cannot be performed by veterinary clinics. Furthermore, a contract with a veterinary clinic does not automatically mean that the local community has fulfilled all its legal obligations. Specifically, in addition to microchipping checks, the Animal Protection Act prescribes spay/neuter programs, education of citizens, and establishing information centers to alleviate the adopting of animals from shelters in order to solve the growing problem of abandoned dogs.

We would be happy to offer our advice to help you with the implementation of your legal obligations. We look forward to hearing from you. We are available for further information and assistance.

Best regards,

Luka Oman

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