Protesters Urge Government to Implement the Animal Protection Law

A group of citizens organized a protest in Sarajevo and urged the government to consistently implement a 2009 law on animal protection, arguing that the law’s provisions are enough to solve the issue of stray dogs.

The protest organizers said that the problem, amplified by dog owners who abandon their pets without legal consequences, is a material consequence of the failure to implement the law.

“The law is a dead letter; its only effect is that the taxpayers’ money is spent on shelters that are in fact death camps,” Adela Čomić, one of the organizers, told N1.

Bosnian parliament passed the law on animal protection in 2009, at the time considered to be one of the most advanced pieces of legislation regulating the rights of animals. However, governments at different levels of Bosnia’s complex governing structure implemented the law’s provisions partly or not at all. Although dog pounds were no longer catching stray animals and killing them, a comprehensive pet registry was never set up and the owners who abandoned their unneutered pets weren’t sanctioned. The result was an alarming number of stray dogs in all major cities.

Eventually, some local communities started opening shelters to tackle the problem. But activists claim that even healthy and non-violent animals are being euthanized there.

Last month, a crew of a Croatian newspaper visited a shelter in Prača, near Sarajevo, and documented cases of appalling abuse of dogs there. The story they ran outraged the animal rights activists in Bosnia.

“We demand (the government) to halt the purchase and renting of shelters in entire Bosnia, to grant access to the shelters to volunteers and to close (the shelters) that don’t fulfill the conditions,” said Čomić.

“This is a problem of every citizen,” said another organizer, Iman Agović.

“The (taxpayers’) money is spent on wrong things. Dogs (in shelters) have nothing from that.”

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