The story of stray animals in Serbia is a horrible testament of torture, killing, disfiguring, poisoning and even raping of these innocent creatures. Serbia is well known for it’s recent history, but behind this the tragic story of a people traumatized and negatively influenced by civil war is also a deep, abiding and enduring hatred of stray dogs among many people – not all of course, but many of the population sadly view them as vermin and are often encouraged do so by the media. This is the case across much of Eastern Europe; it is as though the tendency of a nation under pressure is to identify a helpless or vulnerable minority as a figure of hate for its problems, and attempt to hurt and destroy that minority. In Serbia it is the stray dogs.
They have all the ingredients that make them easy targets: they are very visible because they have lost their homes and are on the streets, their reproduction is not managed, they are easily accused of being nuisances to the public (although the public refuses to use humane methods to control them as per Serbian law) – and best of all, they cannot speak for their own rights. Being animals who are not used for either work or food, they make the easiest of targets. Many Serbians sadly blames the street dogs and they are tortured and killed on a daily basis.
The following are just some examples of the evidence coming out of Serbia on an almost daily basis, showing a pattern of shocking, widespread, normalized brutality, cruelty, murder and torture of street animals, making this increasingly a part of mainstream social violence in Serbia.
It seems that there is a little common sense in everyday news about another case of animal torture that always goes unpunished by the authorities. Examples that have already shocked the world are numerous, but one of the most brutal acts against dogs in Serbia was the horrifying mutilation of Mila, a stray female dog, whose paws were cut off with almost surgical precision and then left alive to bleed to death. Mila lay helplessly for days until someone found and took notice of her, and she became a symbol of animal torture in Serbia. It is a miracle she survived, since she lost a lot of blood and had a heart attack during her torture: http://www.blic.rs/Vesti/Beograd/185172/Psu-odsecene-sve-cetiri-sape
In Serbia there are no safe stray dogs, not even those who are taken care of and loved by the locals. Near Belgrade’s Pancevo bridge a 65 year old man slit the throat of peaceful rottweiler Rauf, seconds after patting him. This good and very tender dog approached the man and his friend, who was walking a little terrier. The old man cuddled the rottweiler and then took a knife and stabbed him to death without a word, in front of the terrified local Abazi Muhammad who screamed – “Why? Why did you do that?”
Examples like this go on and on…and they seem to reflect the ongoing violence against those who have no power to fight back…
Just a few blocks away from the place where mutilated Mila was found, a hooded man shot to death a male mix breed dog, Djole. Djole was one of those dogs who loved children and never left them out of sight while they were playing. He followed them around and played like one of them, always taking care he was gentle enough. This beloved little dog was shot in broad daylight. This beloved little dog was shot in the day light. Never harmed a single soul…
In an abandoned building in Sivac, Serbia, somebody cut the throat, skinned and grilled a female dog! Resident of Sivac, Rajko Keljević says: “All I found at the place shows that somebody ate the dog’s ribs.”
In Nis, a group of children found six dog corpses hanging from a tree.
Puppies aged just five months were first strangled and then hung up by their legs, a cruel example of what will happen to all stray dogs if they “decide” to play at the local football field. This horror movie scene was recorded with mobile phone by a small girl, in a small village near Nis. Later it was found that two kids (minors) committed a crime.
Probably the worst example of animal torture in Serbia happened in Loznica, where an unknown person raped the dog until he died from massive internal wounds. This male dog was found with torn bleeding anus in the town central, dumped on the garbage. Just like the other cases of barbaric animal treatment in Serbia, this one remained unsolved as well. (See the chapter on kill shelters in Serbia dedicated to Loznica)
At flee market in Zemun, Belgrade, Vujica K. (43), killed with a shovel four puppies.
“He grabbed a shovel and went on the counter where box with the puppies was left. He pulled six of them and beat them over the head with a shovel , one by one. Nobody dared to approach him, the blood spouted everywhere. Then the monster threw four babies out of the market, “said a seller at market who observed Vujica K. (43) while killing puppies.
The only one who had the courage to report the case to the police and face the monster is Tomislav Krantić, resident in Zemun. He called the veterinarian who noted the death of the animals. Two puppies of four survived.
Cases go on and are mounting up every week.
Apart from the serious humanitarian issue regarding the plight of the dogs themselves, we should not forget the human warning – that we ignore the plight of street dogs in Serbia at the risk of damaging the health of human society as well – in Serbia and in Europe at large. Serbia is soon to join Europe and if it does so, and is allowed to continued to indulge its hatreds, we will not be able to be free of the dark history of the past, let alone save the innocent dogs from torture and murder on a large scale.
It is important to realize that these are not just isolated, horrifying cases but part of an almost daily reality across the whole of Serbia. If we do not take action – we will be like the Serbian government and most of the population – accommodating and condoning public and hidden cruelty to animals, and tolerating the institutionalized corruption of the government which systematically undermines the laws of the country using taxpayers’ money to fund these terrible acts and getting away with it. In effect allowing the murders of the civil war can to continue.
By not objecting to the mass murder of the stray dogs and demanding compliance with proper standards of animal welfare as per the Convention on Protection of Pet Animals 1987 and the Lisbon Treaty of 2009, by accepting without question Serbia’s highly questionable contention that they are following their laws on animal welfare, we are, in effect, allowing an EU-orchestrated whitewash of the situation.
We, in Humanima Balkans, urge Europeans and the world to scrutinize this behaviour very closely and take careful note also of its very serious human consequences. Scientific studies show, the normalization of cruelty and oppression of animals in Serbia will normalize cruelty towards children, older people, women, ethnic minorities, gender minorities and other human groups in society. We strongly urge everyone to take an integrated view of the poor stray dogs’ terrible situation and not isolate it from our mainstream social issues as we believe this to be a very serious mistake!