04/02/24 Prison Sentences for Animal Abandonment and Ban on Animal Ownership for Abusers!

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Today, amendments to the Penal Code strengthening animal protection in Croatia come into force

- Prevention and Effective Action: Animal abandonment must be reported to the police immediately

Today, amendments to the Penal Code have come into force, bringing long-awaited positive changes in animal protection! Abandonment of pets, domestic, or wild animals should be reported to the police or municipal prosecutor's office. The penalty is up to one year in prison, or up to two if abandonment results in the death of an animal or involves multiple animals. Penalties for the criminal offense of killing and torturing animals have been increased to up to two years in prison or up to three years if the offenses are committed out of greed. Moreover, from now on, abusers and killers of animals can be subject to a security measure prohibiting them from owning or acquiring animals for one to five years.

All these new provisions are proposals that the organization Animal Friends sent to the Ministry of Justice and Administration during the work on amendments to the Penal Code. "We are extremely grateful to the Ministry for accepting our proposals and making a historic leap forward in animal protection in Croatia, which will resonate positively worldwide. Our goal was to introduce provisions that would act preventively, and now it is important for everyone to take action to ensure they are implemented in practice," said Animal Friends.

They explain that citizens will no longer have to wait for the veterinary inspection to respond to reports of abandonment; instead, they can immediately report the act to the police. "This will expedite proceedings and facilitate the prosecution of abandonment. It will also deter people from abandoning animals because they know they risk imprisonment. We also expect people to consider whether they have enough money, time, and knowledge to provide long-term care for an animal before acquiring one. They will also take a more responsible approach to controlling breeding and opt for sterilization instead of abandoning puppies and kittens."

On the other hand, Animal Friends Croatia believes that this will encourage cities and municipalities to work simultaneously to prevent animal abandonment: "Local government units must enforce dog microchipping by visiting all households, which has been a legal obligation since 2017 because the microchip contains data about the dog's guardian. Local communities that have not yet implemented this should be penalized! Additionally, they must educate the public about responsible animal care and fund the sterilization of dogs and cats. Instead of abandoning animals, guardians can help them by sterilization and responsible adoption instead of buying."

Moreover, increased penalties for the criminal offense of killing and torturing animals will only be enforceable thanks to witness reports. Animal Friends Croatia urges citizens that if they have any doubts about the procedure for reporting criminal and misdemeanor offenses against animals, they can contact them: "Reporting is very important for imposing the security measure prohibiting animal ownership and acquisition. The court can impose it on those who have committed a criminal offense against an animal if there is a risk of committing the same or a similar offense."

As of April 2, 2024, increased penalties for animal torture and killing have come into force, now totaling up to three years in prison. The increase in penalties is important due to the significantly more difficult expiration of cases. Animal Friends Croatia emphasizes that the new provisions of the Penal Code should be the driver of further legislative changes, primarily amendments to the Animal Protection Act and accompanying regulations. They also believe that it is crucial to establish an animal protection inspection and form a sector for animal protection within the Ministry of Agriculture.

Provisions related to animal protection in the amendments to the Penal Code can only be implemented in practice through joint action by citizens and relevant institutions. Therefore, they call on everyone with knowledge of law violations to report every case of animal abandonment and abuse.

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