On Thursday the 3rd of October the Bosnia-Herzegovina Parliament held a debate on whether or not to change the existing animal welfare law to allow ‘euthanasia’ of dogs held in shelters for more than 14 days without adoption.
For those not on Facebook this is what Sandra has written:
Those opposing the change in the debate (local representatives from Dogs Trust, various pro-animal NGOs, ordinary citizens, veterinary experts from the Veterinary Faculty, professors, lawyers) took more room and were in all ways more articulate. See this article on Klix.ba (Serbo-Croatian, you can google translate The problem of street dogs in Bosnia and Herzegovina: The solution is in registration, sterilization, and Punishment:
However, the government representatives and in particular SDP representative Nermina Zaimović Uzunović (who originally presented a Bill on changes and amendments to the Animal Welfare and Protection Act at the assembly on July 6 2013) behaved as if they heard none of the facts, explanations of the cause of the problem and how to remedy the problem.
It will be hard to keep the law as is. The next 2 weeks are critical.
We are drafting a new petition on change.org but cannot post final up until early next week. There are existing petitions you can sign which we’ll post below and on the event page.
But what is important right now is to lobby your embassy representative in Bosnia and at home and your EU Member of Parliament.
Write a PERSONAL, POLITE LETTER asking them to strongly urge the Bosnia-Herzegovina government to not change the law but instead to start actually implementing it! (For a full translation of the existing law, please download this PDF http://inmemoryofvucko.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/lawonanimal-protectionbosniaherzegovina.pdf)
See here to find your Embassy in Bosnia-Herzegovina:
There is also a listing of some of the Embassies on the ACTION TO TAKE page on In Memory of Vucko:
Find your MEP and write a personal letter to them as well.
See here to find any MEP in Europe – ‘Euromap’: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/map.html
Also on the ACTION TO TAKE page (http://inmemoryofvucko.org/action-to-take/) there are further links and suggestions of particular MEPs to write to. Make sure to end your letter with your name and contact details.
THE NEXT TWO WEEKS ARE CRITICAL.
We need to keep the momentum, with press, meetings, lobbying, letters.
A key member of the animal welfare lobby has stated:
“We need to play this smart, plan good timing for every action and save some ammunition for the days and weeks to come!”
If you are from the UK, you can mention in your letter an incident concerning SDP representative Nermina Zaimović-Uzunović, the Member of House of representatives of Parliamentary Assembly who proposed amendments to the law. Nermina Zaimović-Uzunovi said she was disappointed the discussion focused on Dogs Trust and their project (spay-neuter of 3000 strays in June 2013 in Sarajevo) which was financed by “the Queen” – and that Dogs Trust only worked in their own interest and this interest was financed by the “Queen”. Instead of acknowledging the good work done by Dogs Trust, and at great expense, she dismisses it, and certainly does not acknowledge that if her changes come into effect, the 3000 dogs sterilised by Dogs Trust will probably be killed. What a waste!
To reverse or change the existing law (which, although not implemented, has an excellent basis for a humane management programme) for a kill law will be a disaster for a number of reasons, not least of which:
It will damage Bosnia-Herzegovina’s international image
It will fail
It will allow wholesale murder of stray dogs and cats
We already have documentation of how ‘shelters’ tend to ‘euthanise’ animals: by clubbing, injections of bleach and so on. So you can be sure that if the existing animal welfare law is changed, such means of ‘euthanisation’ will become commonplace.
Also, the studies on management of stray dog and cat population are unanimous in that euthanisation is NOT the most effective way to control populations. Euthanasia deals only with the symptoms and not the cause of the problem. It is expensive, inhumane and will not provide a permanent solution. Studies have shown that TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) and CNR (Catch-Neuter-Return) programmes are far more effective (and far more humane) than euthanasia to reduce the street animal population.
Please read this post for more information: http://inmemoryofvucko.org/2013/09/14/bosnia-implement-humane-stray-dog-and-cat-population-control-and-treatment/
DRAFT LETTER TO MEP
Millions of EU citizens care deeply about animal welfare and are sickened to see constant reports of horrific animal cruelty, and look to the EU to help improve animal welfare across Europe. Countries seeking to acquire EU membership need to demonstrate certain standards of animal care, and so I want to bring to your attention Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are seeking admission, and who, in the next two weeks are about to vote on the existing Animal Protection and Welfare Act. I am writing to ask your assistance in ensuring that this law is not changed, but rather that it is actually enforced.
Proposed changes to the Animal Protection and Welfare Act are to make euthanasia legal in all shelters. Euthanasia would be performed within 15 days from a stray dog’s arrival in a shelter. If these changes come into effect, it will have dire consequences for the strays of the country.
Please be aware that while ‘euthanasia’ may seem to be a logical way of dealing with an increasing and endemic stray dog population, this is a costly way to kill dogs and generally very brutal methods are used in shelters in Bosnia-Herzegovina. There is documented evidence of this.
The existing Animal Welfare and Protection Act of Bosnia-Herzegovina is in fact a good and enforceable law. The only reason the law is not being enforced is because certain political and professional circles do not want to do it. (For a full translation of the existing law, please download this PDF http://inmemoryofvucko.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/lawonanimal-protectionbosniaherzegovina.pdf)
The current law makes euthanising stray dogs illegal, – except a) when the animal cannot be cured and keeping it alive would only cause unnecessary pain and further suffering; b) the animal has reached such an old age, its vital bodily functions are terminating; c) the animal suffers from an incurable and/or infectious disease, or such a disease can represent a threat to humans; d) the animal is dangerous; e) the animal is in agony. The truth is, currently dogs are ‘euthanised’ randomly and seriously disregarding the above laws, and in highly inhumane ways: clubbing, injections of bleach, starvation, burning, buried alive.
In addition, the current Animal Protection and Welfare Act states that every city and town has to build shelters for stray animals. All shelters for stray animals have to provide a NO KILL policy and adequate care, including veterinary care for the animals housed there. Again, the truth is that the conditions in most public shelters are horrific, with dogs being left for days without water, food or care of any kind. There is documented evidence of this.
What is crucial regarding the proposed changes to the law is that “Catch & kill” or “catch & incarcerate” policies have failed in numerous other countries. Cities that have successfully managed and curbed their stray animal population were those that opted for a “catch & return” policy. Studies on management of stray dog and cat population are unanimous in that euthanisation is not the most effective way to control populations. Euthanasia deals only with the symptoms and not the cause of the problem. It is expensive, inhumane and will not provide a permanent solution. Studies have shown that TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) and CNR (Catch-Neuter-Return) programmes are far more effective (and far more humane) than euthanasia to reduce the street animal population.
A change to the law will also mean extraordinary wastage of funds and time involved in previous spay-neuter programs of strays, most notably that of Dogs Trust, who sterilised 3000 dogs this June, 2013.
At a Parliament debate on the 3rd of October, SDP representative Nermina Zaimović-Uzunović, the Member of House of representatives of Parliamentary Assembly who originally proposed the amendments to the law, said she was disappointed the discussion focused on Dogs Trust and their project which was financed by “the Queen” – and that Dogs Trust only worked in their own interest and this interest was financed by the “Queen”. Instead of acknowledging the good work done by Dogs Trust, and at great expense, she dismisses it, and certainly does not acknowledge that if her changes come into effect, the 3000 dogs sterilised by Dogs Trust will probably be killed. What a waste!
It’s important also to note that deliberate animal abuse is rife in Bosnia, and many international animal welfare organizations cite Bosnia as the country with the most instances of horrific animal cruelty and suffering. There is the famous case in Ilidža in central Bosnia and Herzegovina, where two men 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 The dog had to be euthanized. Nearly 200,000 people signed these petitions asking the Bosnian and Herzegovinian authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice, but nothing was done.
There is clear evidence now that people who take pleasure in harming animals are also a potential danger to other people, especially children.
Any change to the Animal Protection and Welfare Act allowing ‘euthanisation’ of healthy dogs in shelters will certainly send a message to the populace that killing of dogs and cats is acceptable in all circumstances.
As you will be aware, the European Union provides the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and with many millions of euros worth of financial aid each year. I believe the allocation for 2012 was around €107.8m. My understanding of the provisos attached to these aid packages is that there is a requirement for the recipient country to abide by EU laws which would include the laws related to animal welfare. The Commission has stated that aligning national animal welfare legislation with EU law is a prerequisite for EU membership.
I would urge you please to raise the above issues with the European Commission and the European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of animals (http://www.animalwelfareintergroup.eu/) and, critically, with your representatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The issue of the proposed changes to the law must be addressed in the coming days. It is imperative that the European Commission and the Parliament discusses this matter with their Bosnia and Herzegovina counterparts.
The European Parliament states that “The EU has among the world’s highest standards of animal welfare”. The Eurogroup for Animal Welfare (http://eurogroupforanimals.org/ )is strongly urging the European Commission to adopt adequate measures to ensure that all pet animals are properly treated to protect their health and welfare. If it is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s wish to join the EU it would seem that until their government takes crimes against defenseless, sentient animals seriously they will not be a fit country to be accepted into the EU.
We urge you to help ensure that the Bosnia Herzegovina authorities implement internationally agreed-upon guiding principles on humane stray dog population control, and that resources be allocated to ensure such principles are followed.
Many thanks for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.