09/22/10 Cows on Lonjsko Polje
Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery, and Rural Development
c/o Gordan Jerbic, manager
September 22, 2010
Subject: Request for a written statement on the measures undertaken after the inspection
Dear Mr. Jerbic,
We are writing to you regarding the information published in the mass media, saying that almost hundred cows died this year on the pasture of Lonjsko polje near Sunja owing to severe neglect, which resulted in malnutrition and liver fluke. The dead bodies of the cows were left by their owners to rot on the pasture, by which they put at risk the remaining animals, as well as humans and the environment. After the Veterinary Inspection examined the case, the spokesman of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery, and Rural Development, Mr. Mladen Pavic, stated in August this year that they would press charges against the cows' owners, which was also the last piece of information published.
This state of affairs at Lonjsko polje is a result of the shocking behavior of utterly irresponsible owners of these unfortunate animals, but it is also severe violation of legal and regulative acts, particularly the following:
- Article 4, paragraph 2, item 16 of the Animal Protection Act, which explicitly forbids 'neglecting an animal in terms of its health, housing, nutrition, and care';
- Article 29 of the Law on Cattle Breeding, which decrees that domestic animals should be kept in accordance with the regulations on environmental protection and regulations that define the terms of animal welfare;
- Article 48, par. 1 of the Law on Veterinary Care, which decrees that the bodies of dead animals should be destroyed in a proper manner so as not to put at risk human and animal health or the environment;
- Article 6, paragraph 1, item 2 of the Book of Regulations on the Procedure of Disposing with Animal Corpses, which explicitly decrees that owners of hoofed animals should report the death of an animal to the veterinary station in charge, which will dispose of it in the appropriate manner. Anyone who suspects that an animal suffered and died from infectious disease should proceed in the same way, which was here evidently not the case, since the state of rotting of some bodies showed that they had died several months before the inspection.
The above-listed forms of behavior require urgent intervention by the Veterinary Inspection, as well as severe penalties for the perpetrator in order to prevent all further exposure of animals to suffering and to protect their health, as well as to prevent the spread of disease among animals and humans in the area, especially since the region used to be a sort of tourist attraction until this year.
For all these reasons, we have also requested an official statement from the inspection in charge of cattle breeding.
Regarding the numerous calls that we received after the media published the news on the horrors of Lonjsko polje, we now demand that you should inform us in written form about the charges you pressed, the measures you imposed for the violation of laws, as well as all other measures that you have undertaken since the inspection for the purpose of protecting the animals, punishing those who are responsible for the situation, and preventing similar violations, so that we can inform the citizens and the media.
- Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Rural Development, Veterinary Directorate