08/23/11 Turopolje Pigs

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Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development
Directorate of Veterinary Inspection
Hotel Internacional
Miramarska 24
10000 Zagreb

August 23, 2011

Subject: Report on a veterinary inspector ignoring an act of animal abuse and threatening the life of pigs of Turopolje breed

Dear Sirs,

On the basis of information received from the office of the Noble Borough of Turopolje and the media, we would like to report Aneta Karakas from Velika Gorica, senior state veterinary inspector, to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development on the charges of violating the Animal Protection Act and several other legal acts.

On August 2, 2011, veterinary inspector Aneta Karakas decreed that 25 sows of the protected Turopolje breed, owned by the Noble Borough of Turopolje (Zagrebacka 37, Velika Gorica), which were accommodated at the pens of Turopoljski lug, should be sent to the slaughterhouse of "Bucher shop Kurilovcan" (N. Kramarica 32, Velika Mlaka) on August 10, 2011. The pigs were slaughtered on August 11 with the pretext that they suffered from brucellosis.

The transportation of pigs was covered by the media. In a video footage broadcasted in the main evening news of Nova TV, it could be seen that the pigs were treated very inhumanely while loaded onto the transport vehicle. Even though the workers were kicking, cursing, and beating them, and one worker could even be seen beating a pig with a stick, veterinary inspector Karakas, who was supervising the transport, did not react at all. Thus, as a person in charge she violated the Animal Protection Act (Article 12 – Requirements for the Transport of Animals), according to which: "It is prohibited to transport animals in a way that causes them pain, suffering, injuries or death" (Article 12, par. 1) and "the personnel handling animals must be trained" (Article 12, par. 2, item 5); as well as the Rulebook for the Protection of Animals during Transport and Transport-Related Procedures: "No one can transport animals or order their transport in such a way that it might cause them injuries or unnecessary pain" (Article 3, par. 1); "personnel working with animals should be adequately educated and trained in order to be able to perform the tasks without using force or other methods that might cause unnecessary fear, injuries, or pain" (Article 3, par. 2, item e); "it is prohibited to: a) hit or kick animals' (Appendix l Technical requirements, chapter III: Transportation Practice, section 1: Loading, unloading, and treatment of animals, Treatment of animals, Article 8).

Apart from the responsibility of inspector Karakas, it is necessary to investigate the responsibility of the workers who were beating the pigs and to take appropriate measures.

The abovementioned violations also contain elements of criminal activity, since animals were subjected to unnecessary pain and suffering, which is why we have also raised charges on these points.

As an animal protection and rights organization, we are aware of the fact that beating animals and treating them roughly during transportation to the slaughterhouse is considered part of the Croatian folklore and therefore quite common. However, Croatia has promulgated various legal and regulative acts that aim at reaching the standards of civilization in treating animals that are common in developed European countries. Veterinary inspector Aneta Karakas is therefore obliged to act according to these laws and she also has the authority to prevent and punish the acts of beating and abusive treatment of animals, which she failed to do on the occasion. Since she acted as she did even in the presence of the media, that is, witnesses, it can be presumed that the beating and rough treatment of animals during transportation and other procedures that she supervises are a routine practice.

Moreover, inspector Karakas issued the permit to slaughter 25 pigs of Turopolje breed although no pig displayed the clinical symptoms of brucellosis. By doing that, she also acted contrary to the Decree issued at the 7th Meeting of the Commission for Tracking and Improving the Conditions Related to the Breeding of Turopolje swine, appointed by the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development. The Commission held its meeting on July 7, 2011 and issued a temporary decree by which the slaughtering of pigs was postponed for 60 days. The Commission asked for another meeting on September 7, 2011 at the latest, by which time it would know the results of the blood tests conducted on the pigs of Turopolje breed suspected to suffer from brucellosis.

By acting contrary to the Commission's Decree, inspector Karakas consciously threatened the lives of some 60 piglets left behind the slaughtered pigs, which were doomed to pain and agonizing death by starvation. She ordered that the piglets should be bottle-fed, but it is clear that many will not survive. Being separated from their mothers causes an exceptional stress in piglets, which additionally decreases their immunity and increases the risk of illness and death.

The postponement of slaughter for the 25 pigs was demanded in order to conduct further tests and to track the possible clinical symptoms that would indicate the outbreak of the disease, but also in order to allow the piglets to grow and be prepared for life without their mothers. By acting as she did, inspector Karakas again violated the Animal Protection Act, according to which it is prohibited to "neglect an animal in terms of its health, housing, nutrition, and care" (Article 4, par. 2, pt 16). She also exposed the piglets to unnecessary suffering by starvation that could be avoided, which is punishable according to Article 260 of the Penal Law.

We would also like to ask you to investigate whether legal regulations related to the breeding of Turopolje pigs are being violated as well.

Turopolje pig is a protected autochthon breed, whose survival is important in order to preserve the ecological systems of the Turopolje region. Since continued killing of pigs suspected of being infected with brucellosis, which has in most pigs proved to be unjustified, reduces their numbers and the genetic diversity within the breed, thereby threatening its very survival, we have also sent this report to the Inspection for the Protection of Nature.

We kindly ask that you should inform the relevant institutions about all irregularities that you may notice during your inspection and that are not directly linked to the Animal Protection Act and related legal regulations. We expect your written statement about the undertaken measures and actions.

Best regards,

Luka Oman
President of Animal Friends





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