Subject: Bosnia, the "Romanian Model" , or not? (Or neutral: Bosnian Laws)
Dear Sir / Madam,
As if one European animal holocaust were not enough, we are afraid that another one is around the corner, and it's looming in your potential member-country, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Tomorrow, 3rd of October, 2013, the Parliament of Bosnia & Herzegovina will vote on whether to replicate the Romanian 'Slaughter Law' and allow the killing of all stray animals!
On 3rd of October, 2013, the Bosnian parliament will vote on proposed changes to their animal welfare law, some of which include the rounding up of ALL homeless animals and killing them 2 weeks after capture!
Bosnia's animal protection law is an excellent, very comprehensive law, and there is, actually, no need to change it, unless, of course, one intends to change it for the worse.
Please allow us to resume the situation for you:
During the Bosnian War, Sarajevo was under siege from 1992 to 1995. There was exposed artillery, snipers, cold and hunger clinging on the international humanitarian aid. Having not enough food for themselves, many people abandoned their dogs and cats, while others put their companion animals before themselves - giving them the little food they got from humanitarian aid - and a lot of animals also found themselves all alone because their owners had been killed. Today, an estimated 12,000 abandoned dogs (according to official sources) live on the streets of Sarajevo; nobody knows the number of abandoned dogs in the entire country given that there are no records.
In 2009, the Bosnian government passed a law - which is a prerequisite for Bosnia & Herzegovina's EU membership - that protects straying animals by prohibiting the catching (collecting) and brutal killing of the dogs by municipal workers. Since then, it is prohibited to kill stray animals, except in cases determined by a veterinarian as the only possible measure.
The law furthermore says that owners are required to sterilize and register their pet animals. They must register them at a competent veterinarian, which will have a record of all ownership of dogs and cats - the deadline for registration being seven days after acquiring a dog or cat. For those who already had pet animals, the deadline was 6 months from the entry into force of the law. Thus October 8, 2009 was the deadline by which all owned dogs and cats had to be registered.
One year after the entry into force of the law, that was the deadline for the municipalities, cities, cantons or entities to build shelters for animals. But this part of the law was not applied in practice at all.
Before aggression, Bosnia and Herzegovina was among the middle economically developed countries but today is the poorest country in Europe because of careless corrupted local, regional and central governments that only care about their own pockets and it should be no surprise that some of the few government or municipal shelters are set up mostly as money laundering machines for the government and some private individuals in order to enable them to steel money.
The mentioned law, passed nearly five years ago banning the killing of strays, had actually been passed because the government was alarmed at a sharp rise in canine slaughter as straying dogs proliferated on Bosnian streets. But people ignored the law, largely because authorities failed to provide alternatives such as sterilization and the needed shelters to house the animals and to keep them off the streets... and so the killings continued.
The law from 2009 is actually a very good law, but it was adopted "over night" without anybody providing the conditions for its implementation. And without proper implementation the best laws are useless and not even worth the paper on which they are written!
The Republika Srpska does not even accept the law from 2009 - even though they were obliged to - and they work according to the old law from 2008, which gives them the right to kill dogs after a period of 30 days. They even don’t fully comply to this old regulation and most often kill dogs as soon as possible. This happened at the Hresa-shelter end of 2012 when they killed 52 dogs in one night.
Since the country remains deeply divided along ethnic lines, different parts of Bosnia deal with the problem of strays in different ways. That's because the 1992-95 war between Bosnia's three groups, Bosniacs, Serbs and Croats, ended with a peace agreement that divided Bosnia into two semi-autonomous regions, linked by a weak central government. It's an arrangement that allows some local governments to pass their own dog-killing laws that contradict the nationwide ban.
Today, almost five years after the implementation of Bosnia's animal welfare law, and given that the government and the municipalities have failed to properly implement the law from 2009, it is no wonder that the problem has become huge and urgent. It can not be denied that 12,000 dogs living on the streets of Sarajevo alone, is a problem.
The culprits - next to careless dog owners that let their animals roam freely and mate as they wish and then simply abandon the puppies on the streets - sit in the government and municipalities.
The state has almost no interest in a humane reduction of stray animals, the prices at the veterinary clinics for neutering are very high considering the standards and the high rate of unemployment in Bosnia. To some people, monthly salary in Bosnia is as nearly as high as the cost of a castration is.
For months, the media is spreading hatred against street dogs, and intentionally causes fear and hatred towards the dogs. Animal lovers advocate for a non-violent solution of the problem, saying that disregard / non-implementation of the law passed in April 2009 caused the problem. Their opponents say that the law is inappropriate for Bosnia and Herzegovina and that killing dogs is the only way to resolve the problem and already in January 2013, Occupy for Animals had warned that many of them are committed to change the law, trying to return to the killing as a legitimate option.
On 3rd of October, 2013 the Bosnian parliament will vote on the proposed "slaughter law".
It is rare that extremes of behavior challenge an established language, but these events invite depiction as 'a pandemic speciescidal holocaust' which will have no long term effect on the stray animals situation.
As you know, Catch-Neuter-Return is the only proven humane and effective method to reduce stray animal populations. Statistical studies indicate that in order to fully control a stray population, you need to achieve a 70 percent sterilization rate of the animals within a particular community. Once you reach the 70 percent threshold, the probability that an unsterilized female comes into contact with an unsterilized male is sufficiently small, and the population stops growing.
Killing stray animals, however, does not stop the problem and only offers a temporary “solution”. The World Health Organization’s “Guidelines for Dog Population Management” (Geneva 1990) and various other academic studies show that killing dogs is ineffective. Despite mass extermination campaigns by misguided municipalities the street dog population grows...
'Extermination policies" has been proven ineffective as a method of population control because the vacuum left is soon filled by other dogs from surrounding areas (it is technically impossible to catch ALL dogs) who move in to utilize the resources available, or by the existing dogs using these resources to raise more puppies. It only offers a 'temporary solution'.
In addition to the implementation of a massive spay & neuter campaign for homeless dogs:
- ALL dog owners must be compiled to sterilize their dogs - the Bosnian government must provide free spay & neuter to those who cannot afford the cost - the Bosnian government must take serious measures to end puppy mills and backyard breeding - ALL animals must be chipped and a national register must be put in place - the abandonment of animals must be severely punished
As long as the above mentioned measures will not be taken, the killing of even ALL homeless dogs (although technically impossible) will be futile and all dogs that will die, will have died in vain because nothing will have changed on the overall situation of Bosnia's stray animals population. The situation will be exactly the same again in a few months...
It must also be noted that the word 'euthanasia' is inappropriate when it comes to Bosnia. People tend to believe that - when reading the word "euthanasia" - the dogs will be put out of their miserable life on the streets "humanely".
But NOT SO! Euthanasia in Bosnia, like in most eastern European countries, has nothing to do with the merciful ending of an animal's life as practiced in western societies. In the past we have seen dogs being round up and then killed using axes and iron bars...
The European Union provides the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina with many millions of euros worth of financial aid each year. The provisos attached to these aid packages require the recipient country to abide by EU laws which would include the laws related to animal welfare.
The European Commission has stated that aligning national animal welfare legislation with EU law is a prerequisite for EU membership. Many international animal welfare organisations cite Bosnia as one of the countries with the most instances of horrific animal cruelty and suffering and thus membership should not be obtained by Bosnia until radical changes are made regarding animal welfare.
A number of MEPs have raised and continue to raise the issue about the need for countries seeking to acquire EU membership to demonstrate standards of animal care, and thus it is mandatory that conditions at shelters in Bosnia Herzegovina are drastically improved and that humane stray dog control systems are implemented throughout the country.
Also, and with deep respect to the Bosnian Parliament, a significant body of evidence now exists to show that exposure to animal abuse impacts on children's psychological health (http://makingthelink.wix.com/a-time-for-change#!project-partners/ci4f) and as the Bosnian Parliament is aware, whereas any strategy affecting homeless animals is not within the EU remit of responsibility, under the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU has a Duty of Care to protect human health. Licensing slaughter on the streets will expose children to health affecting stimuli and would be inconsistent with EU policies. One would expect Bosnia to postpone application for EU Membership until the last animal is killed.
We urge the EU to please remind the Bosnian Government of their obligations to comply with EU-standards on animal welfare, including the humane control of stray animal populations, and to tell them to immediately drop the idea of killing all homeless animals two weeks after captures.
Thank you very much, in advance, for the time taken to read our message, and for taken the necessary measures regarding the matter that we have raised.
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