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From 16 January 2005 Issue

CROATIA ... A Land Of Cruelty?
an essay expressed by Croatians... for the world to read
From: Animal Friends Croatia prijatelji.zivotinja@inet.hr
http://www.prijatelji-zivotinja.hr

"A small country for great holidays ... But a small country for great cruelty!"

Our familiar tourism slogan could soon appear with those extra words you see above. Why? ... Because if we take some of the following facts into consideration, my country Croatia shamefully stands out amongst others by it's appalling treatment towards animals ... and the situation is getting worse.

Until recently, we were proud of our population of griffon vultures, about one hundred of them. Now we have only fifty. Half the population were poisoned in just one day during a bear hunt. No attempt was made to even look for, let alone punish the culprit. Excuse the pun, but this incident was barely reported or written about in Croatia, or anywhere else.

Just as a comparative example, Romania has a population of two griffon vultures and spends millions of euros on them. In Croatia, 50 or so are killed annually...

Likewise, we could have been proud of our bear population, which was one of the largest in South Eastern Europe; but instead we decided to give up this wonderful creature for the sake of hunting. Ironically, a bear is actually featured on our five-kuna coin. So, for a couple of thousand euros, foreign hunters can come to this country, kill a bear, eat lunch and go home with its fur as a trophy.

With no proof to back up their claims, local hunters blamed our bears for the mysterious deaths of sheep on the island of Krk. Just another excuse for these misunderstood creatures to be hunted and shot. Local authorities didn't even respond to solutions offered by respected foreign experts. Instead they continued to insist on extermination. The hunting lobby is strong in this country; therefore offers by foreign environmental organizations are often ignored.

At a sitting of the hunting alliance, The President of the Croatian Republic, Stjepan Mesic stated that various negative stories about bears and other animals tend to circulate amongst those who do not know a lot about hunting. In fact, misinformation circulates amongst much of the Croatian public, mostly uneducated about animal welfare. Completely unproven claims of rampaging bears and other wild animals ripping whole herds of sheep to pieces just give more credibility and support to the country's hunting lobby. Because of this ignorance, bloody sports and killing for pleasure seems to stand proud in our countries cultural curriculum. The way things are going at the moment, the only place we are likely to see a Croatian bear in the future is on our five-kuna coin.

Croatia is probably the only country in the world where a hunter can openly say on national television that he has killed somebody's dog, cat, donkey etc. - and that he will also kill others. Hunting grounds start as close as three hundred metres from private land. Hunters take full advantage of this and intentionally kill "everything that moves." They know too well that the law allows them to do so, and they stretch that law to extremes. It is simply repulsive to watch these hunters - macho he-men in military dress, armed with guns and lead by dogs. They set out on their heroic crusades - the killing of "dangerous wild beasts" - such as rabbits, pheasants and foxes ... It's pathetic.

However, hunters are not the only ones who use loopholes in our catastrophic Animal Protection Act. Croatia's entertainment industry regularly uses animals as stage props. The performers hurl them around the stage, batter them or sacrifice them in the course of "artistic expression." Up to a point, public activities like this might get condemned - and there is talk of bringing charges, but the sentiments are short-lived and soon forgotten. These occurrences are overshadowed by other, more inane news incidents, which the media would rather make space for.

Although we are a small Central European country, we are the largest world producer of chinchilla fur, with up to 50% of the total world production. These small South American animals are kept throughout their life in cramped cages. And when their time comes, their necks are broken - then they are skinned. These poor creature's pelts proudly contribute to Croatia's export economy. In just 6 months, Chinchilla Co. Ltd. produced 10.5 tonnes of carcasses of these small rodents.

Even though more and more people in the world support synthetic fur, and are against the production of natural (animal) fur, Croatia is not interested in banning fur farming. Croatia is not interested in the fact that the anti-fur movement is gaining strength all the time and that a large number of civilized countries across the world condemn this kind of cruelty. But in our country, a woman thinks she is not a 'real woman' without a fur coat.

"In Croatia, we ask ourselves, in which century and time are we living: the stone-age or the third millennium?"

With regards to animal species from other continents, it is necessary to mention ostriches, which are presently one of the growing problems in Croatia. There are more and more breeders of these African birds, even though there is no legislation in our country on the keeping and slaughter of these animals. The bringing of such legislation is sought from authorities. In the meantime, neighboring Austria has banned the slaughter of ostriches.

This is the irony, because everything that is repulsive to the "West" - just a border away - is allowed in our country; from the hunting of protected species to the farming of fur and the slaughter of ostriches.

Unfortunately, the problem does not just lie in the farming and slaughter of animals from other continents. In all countries around the world, animals such as chickens, pigs, cows, horses and sheep are nothing but articles to serve and fulfill meat eaters. That is the common state of world animal farming for the masses. In some countries such as Great Britain there are rules, which are supposed to be followed when slaughtering animals. This is to reduce their pain of death to the minimum. But in Croatia they are inconsiderately slaughtered without anesthetic. Their teeth, wings, tails and testes are cut with no thought given to help reduce their pain. Passing through any Croatian rural settlement, anyone can see for themselves how such barbaric techniques are used to put animals to death. Veal calves, for example, are hung alive, upside down and their throats cut to drain their bodies of blood as the heart continues to pump.

Also located in Croatia are some of the largest chicken farms in Europe, as well as some of the larger European farms for milk cows and pigs. Similarly, we can 'boast' about our huge turkey, calve and beef cattle farms ... all run using barbaric slaughtering methods. Favourite specialties and popular meals are young pigs and lambs. Particularly ugly sights are the numerous restaurants along busy Croatian roads, with skewered baby animals turning over fires in front of the restaurant entrances.

There is no celebration, wedding or holiday without a roast or an excess of meat fare. However, probably one of the greatest problems occurs in the Adriatic Sea, which is almost totally depleted of fish. Fishing trawlers have ruined the seabed, by dragging their nets, and have over fished the entire area. Apart from our local fishermen, the Japanese are now assaulting the Adriatic Sea using new, more intensive methods.

We take this opportunity to consider some of our folk traditions, such as the beheading of bulls on the island Korcula. In fact this wasn't even a tradition in the first place. It was introduced as a tourist attraction, but instead gave rise to criticism and repugnance. Thankfully, it was given up after just two seasons.

What else can we expect? What other horrific ideas lie in the heads of our people or tourist associations? People who are more concerned about profit rather than conserving their depleting natural resources and native animals. The Croatian public must stand back and realize that they are ecologically out of sync with global concerns about the environment, species extinction and the ethical treatment of animals.

Is Croatia becoming the slaughterhouse of Europe?

Whilst some countries laws prohibit the abuse of animals, our country seems to revel in it ... as a tourist attraction. The number of vegetarians worldwide is steadily increasing and health organizations around the world are supporting vegetarianism as healthy and ethical choice. But in our country, authorities still have no understanding for the introduction of vegetarian meals or food labeling into public institutions.

In Croatia, nobody has yet been punished because of cruelty to animals. Almost anything is tolerated. Pet owners can abuse their animal with no worry about being charged with cruelty. Therefore, it's no surprise when dogs and cats are abandoned and thrown out onto the street during the holiday season. They finally end up in a pound where they are killed within a shorter time limit than the law permits.

At the beginning of this article we parodied, "A small country for a great holiday." This is the advertising slogan of the Croatian Tourist Association. It's inspired by a seldom seen natural beauty of our land - its large potential for eco-tourism and the production of ecological (organic) growth and health food. The purpose of this article is not to dispute that, but to seek an answer to the questions:
"Why is Croatia turning to blood thirsty tourism of killing donkeys and bears?"
"Why is Croatia killing and selling of rare songbirds?"
"Why is Croatia farming animal species endemic to other climes and the opening of new hunting-grounds?"

At the same time, our rural tourism - illustrated by the beauty of ancient castles - deteriorates further, as they become overgrown with nettles and acacias. What was once among the cleanest rivers and springs in this part of the world are now undrinkable, poisoned a result of bad planning of industrial waste zones. The resulting cruelty and negligence towards all the animal species that share these expanses with us is overwhelming. Even though we are a 'small' country, Croatia is unfortunately also a land of great cruelty.

An article by the Croatian Animal Welfare Group, Animal Friends.
Edited and revised by LGGN

http://www.looking-glass.co.uk/news/library2002/2002-5-east-europe.htm#croatia 

LATEST NEWS FROM CROATIA

According to a law in Croatia, any cat or dog found more than 300 meters of towns is considered strayed and therefore can be killed. Cats and puppies are being killed and hung on branches of trees in Medijimurje area in Croatia. Also dogs and cats have been killed by hunters. See pictures at: http://www.apasfa.org/peti/croacia_pic.html

LETTER SENT TO CROATIAN AUTHORITIES AND THE EUROPEAN UNION

Dear Sir /Madam,

I am writing to request that you take immediate steps to introduce animal protection laws in Croatia. I am gravely concerned about the barbaric and cruel methods of stray animal control that are practised in Croatia. Such methods are simply unacceptable in modern society and must stop.

Apart from the terrible cruelty involved, these methods do nothing to address the problem of stray animals on the streets. According to Croatian laws, any cat or dog more than 300 meters beyond town limit s is considered strayed and therefore is allowed to be killed.

Cats and puppies are being killed and hung by the branches of the trees in Medjimurje area in Croatia. Throughout the last year, there were also numerous cases of puppies, dogs and cats being intentionally shot by hunters.

There is no excuse for failing to introduce laws on stray animals. There are many practical, cruelty free methods that can be introduced to control the numbers of strays, which poses no harm to the animals, most notably a neutering program. These have proved to be very successful in other countries. Please do intercede. Stop the barbaric cruelty and ensure that a proper legal foundation for animal protection is created in Croatia.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
PERHAPS THE EUROPEAN UNION (EU) SHOULD BE NOTIFIED OF THESE PRACTICES MENTIONED ABOVE. THE CROATIAN GOVERNMENT IS DESPERATELY TRYING TO BECOME EU MEMBERS.

Write to the European Union (EU) and ask them to be more responsible on new membership.

Email Addresses to the EU

eurobarometer@cec.eu.int 

EU Public Opinion e-mail:

trade-A3@cec.eu.int 

EU Trade

agri-library@cec.eu.int 

EU Agriculture

euro-ombudsman@europarl.eu.int 

For complaints

eac-culture@cec.eu.int  

Culture

Forward your correspondence to the EU to Croatian authorities.

Office of the President - ured@predsjednik.hr 

Parliament of Croatia - sabor@sabor.hr 

Office of the Prime Minister premijer@vlada.hr 

In the past, Croatian Animal-Rights Activists have been threatened and intimidated by the authorities. Lets make sure the Croatian Government knows the world is watching.

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