In terms of regulatory legislation, 2009 saw the Serbian authorities implement strict rules for the protection of animals. The law, published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, No. 41/09, regulates the treatment, care and rights of animals alongside the obligations and criminal liabilities of individuals who mistreat them. This legislation claims to protect animals from any abuse, outlining strict standards relating to care, treatment, transportation, trade and animal experimentation. Article 269 of the Serbian criminal code implemented in 2006 states that killing dogs, or committing violence against them, is punishable with economic sanctions and imprisonment of up to 3 years.
Moreover, according to Article 54 of the aforementioned law, local authorities are required to prepare a program for the control and rehabilitation of stray dog populations. Under Article 66, the same authorities are further obliged to provide shelter and assistance to all stray animals within their territory. Both the capture and transportation of abandoned animals must be conducted in such a manner to cause the least possible suffering, pain and physical stress to those animals. Finally, in accordance with the same article, local authorities must provide veterinary care to the sick and injured animals, and administer humane euthanasia in the case of incurable diseases.
On the 1st July 2011, Serbia went on to ratify the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals. Article 12 of this convention dictates that when a country identifies a problem with the size of their stray animal population, they must take appropriate measures to reduce the numbers in a way which does not cause pain or suffering to the animals involved. The convention promotes the employment of spay and neuter programs as the recommended method of stray animal population control.
In addition to Article 269 of the Serbian criminal code, Article 46 of the Serbian Veterinary Medicine Law (2005) declares that animals have a right to life and should receive the proper and appropriate care.
There are NO laws in Serbia declaring euthanasia must be undertaken as a means of stray animal control. On to contrary; each local community in Serbia has a legal obligation to provide care for the abandoned dogs and cats within its locality.
Further international conventions ratified by Serbia include; Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes, European Convention for the Protections of Animals for Slaughter, European Convention for the Protection of Animals during International Transport, and the Convention of the Conservation of European Wildlife & Natural Habitats.
Although the legal framework to protect animals in Serbia exists, the laws and conventions are not being implemented.
Every day in Serbia stray animals are being abused, tortured, poisoned, burned, and killed… and the perpetrators of the crimes are never punished.
In addition, animals are also being killed systematically in kill shelters administrated by local authorities. The majority of the city shelters within Serbia employ euthanasia as the only way to solve the problem of stray dogs. Once dogs are captured through cruel and brutal methods, employees of Zoo Hygiene transport them in a cruel way to kill pounds. On arrival the animals are imprisoned within desolate cages without any food or water for many days prior to their deaths. Those who survive the starvation are then beaten and abused before suffering horrific and barbaric deaths.
These shelters receive public money from local authorities for each animal caught and impounded within the facilities. However, the funds received are not being used for any kind of basic animal care, such as food and veterinary intervention, as they were allocated. As well as being in opposition of Serbia’s own animal welfare laws, this blatant misuse of public funds should also be a cause for great concern and economic interest.
Once animal abuse is uncovered, how much of the laws are respected in practice?
The first prison sentence in the Serbian justice for the murder of animals was imposed in early July 2007. A three-month sentence was awarded to Miroljub Savic (64) from Ljig after he killed a young female dog named Mitu, tied her to the bumper of his car and dragged her body for several miles before leaving her in a landfill.
The second case was not until July this year (2013) when the Court of Appeal sentenced Obrad Veselinovic to three months in jail for killing his own four dogs after they killed his lamb. He bludgeoned three of the dogs to death with a pole, while the fourth was repeatedly hit against concrete stairs until it died.
The Court in Cacak also sentenced Borivoje Obradovic from the village Boljkovac near Gornji Milanovac to pay a fine of 60,000 dinars (550 EUR) for the murder of two of his neighbour’s dogs, Stana and Milutin Pavlovic Radovic. Such minimal punishments are typical practice in the courts in Serbia when dealing with the crime of animal abuse.
Until 2013, very few animal abusers have been sentenced, and the few to have been punished only received minor economic sanctions.
In this article you could find official judicial statistics data on the number of reported , accused and convicted persons for the crime of murder and abuse of animals in Serbia from 2006 to 2012: pravnazastitazivotinja.com
Many citizens refuse to stand witness to animal torture and murders. For the few who report such crimes, many find that the Police refuse to act on their calls. And in the even fewer cases where the police do attempt to bring the perpetrator to justice they often find their cases are left pending in the Serbian Courts only to become forgotten altogether.
Our aim is to influence a Serbian authorities regarding animal abuse to act and sentence the abusers and public shelters who do not respect the current laws. Our aim is Improvement of the enforcement of existing animal welfare legislation.
From the 2011 till now, we filled more then 30 complaints and charges to Prosecution, to Police, Veterinarian Inspections, Ministry of Agriculture Veterinarian Department and relevant Institutions. We released publically to media these cases, too. We constantly informed and educated Citizens about their rights to act against animal abuse . At the moment we work on gathering evidence against many public kill shelters in Serbia. Citizens are contacting us, but with out founds we could hardly manage to cover them all.
On case report we start investigation, we send a volunteer to the shelter to do hidden photos or videos, and search for witnesses and volunteers on ground. We send the info to the media, write complaint and fill charge to the regional Veterinarian Inspectory, Ministry, and Police;
Unfortunately, after filling charges, we must follow many months or years the result and write a complaints and new charges till some results has been obtained. We have many pending cases.