09/28/23 If State Inspectorate Consents to Log Pulling, it Supports Animal Abuse!

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Following the disturbing case of horse beating, Animal Friends Croatia sent a memo to the State Inspectorate

- Horse log-pulling competitions already represent a breach of the law; an explicit legislative ban is imperative

Following the recent case of horse maltreatment in the Karlovac area, Animal Friends Croatia filed a complaint against the abusers, pointing out that this instance of horse beating was not an isolated incident, but part of daily training in “preparation” of horses for log-pulling competitions, the so-called štraparijade or šlajs. The group has sent a memo asking the State

Inspectorate to instruct all veterinary inspectors not to consent to cruel competitions as these are against existing legal provisions and, if they should, it would equal to promoting animal abuse.
“It is impossible for the veterinary inspection to allow any such competitions in compliance with the Animal Protection Act and in line with animal protection. Štraparijadas are already illegal, in contradiction to a range of legal provisions in the sphere of veterinary medicine and animal protection. Horse beating is a criminal offense according to Article 205 of the Penal Code, sanctioned by imprisonment and confiscation of the animal, however, it is also a criminal offense based on the Animal Protection Act,” explains Snježana Klopotan Kačavenda, Animal Friends Croatia Project Coordinator.

The Animal Protection Act bans the use of animals in competitions “if they are thereby forced to behave in a way that causes animals to suffer pain, discomfort, injuries or death.” Animals can be used in competitions only following the approval by the relevant veterinary inspector based on an application made at least seven days prior to the animal use. The application must list all animals to be used in competitions and information on the means of keeping and using animals up until then, the purpose of their use, conditions of animal keeping during competitions and details of the place where it is held.

“The video showing horse beating in Karlovac is not an exception but a rule, and the abuse will not cease until causes are removed and log-pulling competitions banned. We demanded their ban back in 2016, however, the relevant ministry rejected our request. Thus, we will put forward our demand again in preparation for the forthcoming amendments to the Animal Protection Act. Apart from the visible, public abuse during the log-pulling competitions, horses are “conditioned” by being beaten by wooden sticks in stables, day after day, year after year. After this abuse follows log-pulling competitions which cause horses enormous exertion and suffering,” said Klopotan Kačavenda and added that, according to some witnesses, horse owners beat the animals for an hour prior to the start of the competition, to agitate them. She added that, during competitions, horses are beaten by hand, probed by sticks with metal spikes, or whipped until they are bloodied.

The animals are exposed to extreme physical exertion far beyond their strength, screaming crowds, car noises, heat, and strong sun. As their sense of hearing is particularly well developed, exposure to noise makes them experience fear and panic. In addition, they suffer during transportation, frequently to faraway locations, in the summer heat, and often in complete disregard for animal transportation regulations. The main motive behind the abuse is illegal profits – the winner’s price can shoot up to 10,000 euros, allowing abusers to buy two or three such horses a year cheap and sell them at a high price, easily making a two-year income. Further profits are reaped from illegal betting going up to several thousand euros.

Consequently, Animal Friends Croatia warns that if the state inspection were to allow and separate such competitions from animal treatment leading up to the competitions, it would actually support animal abuse, turning a blind eye to well-known facts due to which the Croatian public has condemned the beatings before the competitions and subsequent animal abuse for human entertainment and profits. As the inspection cannot possibly know the circumstances of each horse participating in the competition, by refusing to give consent, the veterinary inspectors would at the same time be able to protect themselves from the responsibility of guaranteeing the legality of each log-pulling competition.

“Croatia is short of sufficient funds or veterinary inspectors who would be able to monitor and control each stable where horse beating carries on, far from the public eye. It is therefore paramount that the veterinary inspection refuses to consent to horse use for all log-pulling competitions,” concluded Klopotan Kačavenda in the memo forwarded to the State Inspectorate.

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