11/05/12 All Shelters are Closing?!?

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Animal Friends warns about an alarming situation caused by unreasonable demands from veterinary inspectors

- Adopting of animals in Dumovec shelter has been stopped during the last month; is stray animal care in Croatia collapsing?

In response to the outcries of many citizens over the adoption stoppage of all new animals at Zagreb's animal shelter Dumovec, Animal Friends has exposed an alarming situation that will negatively affect the future of all shelters in Croatia. Veterinary inspectors have issued a resolution for Dumovec in which they only allow the adoption of dogs that have been monitored in the shelter for six months or are negative in high rabies anti-body titration test. Because of this resolution, there are now more abandoned dogs on Zagreb's streets than in the shelter.

This resolution seems to be a result of the constant pressures, monitoring, and controls of the shelter by veterinary inspectors. After closing shelters in June because of alleged rabies situations, and killing 46 healthy animals, unreasonable demands of veterinary inspections could endanger the whole animal adopting system in Croatia.

Testing high titeration of antibodies for rabies at the Croatian Veterinary Institute significantly increases costs to shelters. Is it possible for Zagreb and others Croatian cities to settle these costs, considering that many of them haven't built the shelters yet because of financial problems?!? Existing shelters are often managed by organizations with insufficient financial assets even for basic everyday needs. Every city that finances shelters already has to pay a lot of money to house the animals and to provide food, vaccines, spaying and neutering, and others veterinary services.

Even if shelters or the government could finance testing high anti-body titration tests for rabies, no dog could be adopted for at least a month and a half because of quarantine and testing. Consequences of this practice include overcrowded shelters that have stopped adoptions, sick puppies that have weak immune systems, and enormous housing expenses for every shelter dog. The streets would be crowded with stray dogs, which would increase the danger of contagious diseases and rabies. Who would then be responsible for rabies on the streets? Just as Croatia will join the EU, the country could face the collapse of an already bad stray animal care system.

Even though proposal of the new Rulebook for conditions in animal shelters demands control of anti-body titration tests at the Croatian Veterinary Institute, there is no such obligation anywhere in other European countries. In Croatia, oral vaccination of foxes has been conducted and there has been no increase in rabies. The last human rabies case was recorded in 1964. But even if Croatia was especially in danger of a rabies outbreak, this measure could only make the situation worse.

Veterinary inspection has been neglecting Article 23 of the Rulebook – testing high anti-body titration for rabies and animal monitoring for six months, knowing that this article cannot be implemented in practice. At the same time, one of the greatest absurdities is that cats, statistically the most common transmitters of rabies, are not obligated to be vaccinated, while the dogs must spend six months in quarantine! By manipulating with wrong information about the danger of rabies, veterinary inspection could destroy the system of homing of stray dogs and figthin rabies. This kind of behavior causes disbelief and outrage among foreign expert organizations and could cause a disaster that will cause local communities, organizations, and citizens to raise to their feet.

At a recent meeting, Croatian animal protection organizations, who are a part of the Network Against Animal Abandoning, have agreed to send a collective demand for changing the disputable article of the Rulebook (i.e. that testing high titer of antibodies for rabies would not be obligated by any law provision) to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Animal Friends is still waiting for a meeting with the minister Jakovina in order to discuss this serious problem, while minister assistant Ms. Mirjana Matausic-Pisl stated that testing high titeration of antibodies for rabies and similar demands will not be regulated.

Animal Friends demands the following: that authorities allow shelters to continue operating, that veterinary inspectors carry out conscientious work, and that a new Rulebook be written, as it should have been issued at the end of 2009 without an article about testing high titeration of antibodies for rabies, in order to avoid large damages to local communities and the state and citizen who are paying for work of the shelters and the local and state officials.

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