Dear Bosnia-Herzegovina, Euthanasia Will Not Fix Your Stray Dog Problem

Romania is not the only country in which homeless dogs face a death sentence. The government of Bosnia-Herzegovina is seeking to change its existing Animal and Protection Law (pdf) to allow for the “euthanasia” of dogs who have been in shelters for more than fourteen days and have not yet been adopted.

Under the law, euthanizing homeless dogs is illegal unless “the animal cannot be cured and keeping it alive would only cause unnecessary pain and further suffering”;  the animal’s vital bodily functions are “terminating” as a result of age; the animal is suffering from “an incurable and/or infectious disease” or a disease that can represent a threat to humans; the animal is “dangerous” or the animal is “in agony.”

In addition, under the current animal welfare law, every city and town in Bosnia-Herzegovina is supposed to build a shelter for homeless animals that has a “no kill” policy and that provides adequate care, including medical care from veterinarians.

Nermina Zaimović Uzunović of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Social Democratic Party, had called for amendments to the animal welfare law at a July 6 convening of the assembly. At an October 3 debate in the country’s Parliament about changing the law so that it would place what amounts to a death sentence on stray dogs, many including local representatives from Dogs Trust, a number of NGOs concerned about animal welfare, veterinary experts from the Veterinary Faculty, professors, lawyers and ordinary people all “spoke out strongly to oppose the changes,” as the website In Memory of Vucko says.

Vucko was a German shepherd who was seriously injured by an explosive set by two teenagers on November 11, 2011. The details about what happened to Vucko offer ample evidence for why it is necessary to fight the changes proposed by Uzunović:

… two drunken teenagers in Ilidža, Bosnia-Herzegovina, put a rocket explosive firework into a young German Shepherd’s mouth and duct-taped his jaws shut, setting the rocket alight. The firework caused horrific injuries to the dog’s face, but did not kill him. He wandered about for five days before being finally rescued by animal welfare volunteers who took him to a veterinarian’s office. The firework shell was still embedded in the dog’s head, and maggots had started to eat his ruined flesh. The vets determined his injuries could not be helped and he was euthanized.

Clearly, even after the passage of the 2009 animal welfare law in Bosnia-Herzegovina, cruelty against animals continues and without the perpetrators facing prosecution.

As In Memory of Vucko states, he was just one of too many dogs and cats who have suffered, or are suffering, terrible abuse in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a country that is still struggling to recover after the 1992 civil war. Hundreds of dogs freeze to death in the winters, and “reports of animal cruelty, dog hunts, poisonings, dumping of animals, are still commonplace,” according to In Memory of Vucko.

No animal protection laws existed in Bosnia-Herzegovina until the Animal Welfare and Protection Law was passed four years ago. As animal welfare advocates made very clear on October 3, the government has yet to take sufficient measures to enforce the law. As Bosnia-Herzegovina has no organization like the U.S.’s ASPCA, laws to protect animals are all the more necessary.

Euthanization will not solve the problem of stray dogs in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as those who spoke against changing the law underscored at the October 3 debate. Real solutions instead involve requiring owners to register dogs, sterilization and improved methods of population control, better training of veterinarians and increasing and improving shelters.

Stray dogs are “always a consequence, not a cause of the problem,” as Professor Selma Filipovic, Head of the Department of Surgery, School of Veterinary Medicine in Sarajevo, pointed out during the October 3 debate.

Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Parliament will soon be voting on whether or not to change the animal welfare law. Animal advocates are asking for your urgent help to lobby MEPS and local politicians; to write letters to international welfare organizations (details can be found here); and to donate desperately needed funds for advocates to continue their work of investigating the ”shelters” and compiling evidence of abuses to bring to Parliament.

It is crucial that the Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Animal Welfare and Protection Law remain a no-kill law. Sign the petition to stop Bosnia-Herzegovina from implementing a kill law!


Photo from In Memory of Vucko


Jim Ven
Jim Vabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thank for sharing

Amila Rizvic
Amila Rizvic2 years ago

I am originally from Bosnia. I visit often and am shocked by the conditions of people living there and of course dogs.
The government is completely corrupt and seniors live on less than 50 dollars a month - if they even receive that much.
So that's just to paint a picture of how things work. Now, I have multiple dogs, mostly rescues that are part of my family - my kids. Everytime I go back to Bosnia, my yard looks like a rescue - full of strays that I try to feed and give money to people around to keep feeding them.
That being said, the Bosnian government could care less about dogs, people and so on. The only chance these dogs have is if non profits step up and help. Do attacks happen? yes they do, dogs live in packs, hardly have any human interaction but the occasional food thrown their way.
They survive on the street. Should they be on the street - of course not ! They should be in loving homes. But this is Bosnia and not the US. The problems are deeply rooted and the culture is accepting of strays, people that live there know that the dogs are on the street. A killing crew comes once a year and so on. This is fact.
I will support every petition that will help these dogs, and donate. Money is being raised to send to Bosnia to buy food for shelters that are there. They rely on it. Please keep a look out for info.

sharon stringer
sharon stringer3 years ago

These stories break my heart,to think how anyone with any sort of decency could inflict such HORRIFIC acts of utter abuse on an innocent dog or cat is just beyond me?? and they don't receive any sort of punishment just laugh at the poor misfortunate suffering animal,this sickens me.These third world countries NEED to be educated or are they all idiots???

S J3 years ago

I do hope they will stop cruelty very soon.

Michael T.
Michael T3 years ago

Dog's should be removed from the streets, by any means necessary. Do dogs in your contries go around in packs?

Dogs should be removed . . . by any means? Sounds like you are promoting and open to killing and animal abuse.

In my COUNTRY when a dog is found stray, we get the dog and take it to a shelter. But then I live in a country that mostly behaves as if it was the 21st Century in its regard for animals.

Senad Jahic
Senad Jahic3 years ago

Dog's should be removed from the streets, by any means necessary. Do dogs in your contries go around in packs?

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright3 years ago

I don't even know what to say anymore. This is wrong on so many levels.........I hope and pray that things change for the better for the animals in this hellhole of a country.

Meliha Avdic
Meliha Avdic3 years ago

I agree that people should be educated about how to treat animals, and I support that some people should not be allowed to keep an animal at all. However, even organisations protecting animals put dogs back on the streets - this is what this petition supports. Dogs do NOT belong on the streets - that's the point! They are a danger to hunams and streets belong to humans first. To be perfectly honest, when it comes to this danger on our streets the organisations supporting animals are the biggest problem. They are completely cold towards human suffering, and then they expect support from humans. I've heard abou cases where a child was attacked by a pack of dogs and those who tried to complain were then attacked by organisations who support animals.

I'm sorry, but these people are NOT telling you the whole truth. In Bosnia, police is not allowed to act if they see a child being attacked by a dog. we've had police officers suspended. Or, like the example in Banja Luke where a dog ttacked a group of young kinds on a playground, and police officers dragged the dog away (being very careful), the dog returned, attacked another girl, the police officer then short the dog because they couldn't do anything else at that stage. The police officer had to apologise! Do you understand how fanatical these people are against humans?

Dog do not belong on the streets without an owner who will be responsible for them! Full stop!

Anna Undebeck
Anna Undebeck3 years ago

Signed with a bit of hope! Thanks for posting.