03/14/24 A Historic Decision: Anyone who Abandons an Animal Goes to Jail!

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Animal Friends Croatia celebrates the strengthening of animal protection through the recently voted amendments to the Criminal Code

- Harsher penalties; abusers can be banned from keeping and acquiring animals

Today, members of the Croatian Parliament voted on the final proposal for amendments to the Criminal Code, which, among other things, introduces a new criminal offense – abandonment of animals! Anyone who abandons a domestic animal, a pet, a tamed animal, or any other animal that they are responsible for keeping under surveillance will face imprisonment for up to a year. If, however, the abandonment causes the death of an animal, or if multiple animals are abandoned, the offender will receive a prison sentence of up to two years. This is a historic decision for the animals and the result of a tremendous commitment of Animal Friends Croatia – in 2021, they launched a petition demanding that the act of animal abandonment result in a prison sentence.

The Organization also celebrates the fact that the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration is keeping up with the legislation in other European countries regarding animal protection. For example, the Ministry accepted their proposal and introduced a new security measure into the Criminal Code – a measure that prohibits offenders from keeping and acquiring animals for a period of one to five years. The court can impose it on individuals who committed a criminal offense against an animal if there is a risk that they will commit the same offense, or a similar one. "The inclusion of this measure is crucial because we have witnessed numerous instances where abusers, after committing serious crimes against animals, soon acquire a new one, which they also abuse, and thus remain a persistent social problem and threat," explain Animal Friends.

An additional reason for celebration is the introduction of harsher penalties for inflicting unnecessary pain on animals or subjecting them to unnecessary suffering, as well as for killing and severely abusing animals. Previously, the maximum sentence was up to one year in prison, but now it’s up to two years. If these crimes are committed out of self-interest, the perpetrator can now receive a prison sentence of up to three years, whereas previously, the maximum sentence was up to two years.

"We thank the citizens who signed the petition, the competent ministry that accepted our proposals, the Government for improving the existing provisions, and the members of the Croatian Parliament who supported the criminalization of the abandonment of animals and the increase of prison sentences for torturing and killing animals. Animal abandonment is truly a heinous act! The person abandoning the animal is aware that it cannot survive alone, that it can die in traffic, and that death from hunger, thirst or freezing does not occur immediately, but involves long-term suffering and agony," Animal Friends point out.

They anticipate that these legislative changes will result in easier law-enforcement and more effective protection of animals in Croatia. They urge citizens to continue reporting any cases of abandonment and animal abuse so that the amendments to the Criminal Code can be put into practice.

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