03/29/24 Horror in the centre of Split, everything points to the breeding of dogs for fighting

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Animal Friends Croatia demands prison sentences for the perpetrators and the permanent confiscation of more than 60 animals

- Chained, a kangal biting its leg, many of them are scares, unmarked, in terrible conditions, a mix of wolf and dog

After the police announced that they found 67 dogs and 2 wolves, the Animal Friends Croatia association says that all the information points to the dogs being used for dog fights: "As seen on the photos, video and reports from citizens, it’s about breeding dogs for dog fights. Dogs of the strong dog breeds, like Stafford and Bull breeds, which are used for fighting, are prevalent. A female kangal was also seen in a terrible state, biting her leg, without veterinary care, and some of the dogs were very scared. The place in which they are located in the very centre of the city is surrounded by a high wall that prevents passers-by from seeing the area overgrown with vegetation and improvised houses. The dogs are each on their own short chain and are forced to lie on the ground, concrete, or rocks. It is clear that these dogs are not kept as pets, but rather for breeding for fights. It's shocking that no one has reacted yet!"

They point out that the huge number of dogs and even two wolves point clearly to the justified suspicion that these are criminal activities in which, according to reports from citizens, not only members of the criminal milieu but also some prominent individuals from Split are involved. The police established that the suspect man neglected the dogs with regard to their health and housing and restricted their movement in such a way that he caused them pain, suffering and injuries, in that way realizing the characteristics of the criminal acts of destroying protected natural values and killing or torturing animals. But he didn't stop there!

"An individual who has more than 60 dogs and isn’t a registered breeder or doesn’t have an established shelter for animals, where a large number of dogs are not marked with a microchip, none of them have ever been released from the chain, considering that the citizens of Split have not seen them walking around the city, violates a number of the provisions of the Animal Protection Act, the Regulation on Dangerous Dogs and other by-laws.”

We wrote to the State Inspectorate and directed the inspection to take care of dogs in shelters that have the infrastructure conditions for separate accommodation of each dog. At the same time, we asked the veterinary inspection to sanction the perpetrator for all the irregularities found and to issue permanent confiscation of dogs, especially unmarked ones. This will enable shelters to socialize and the permanent adoption of dogs. This is particularly important for puppies that must not grow up in a shelter and so be left without the opportunity to be adopted quickly. We expect Split to take care of the dogs while they are looking for adequate housing for the purpose of adoption," pointed out Animal Friends.

For all those involved in breeding and organizing dog fights, they are demanding a maximum prison sentence, permanent confiscation of all animals and a ban on keeping and acquiring new animals. Amendments to the Criminal Code, which will enter into force in a few days, stipulate a prison sentence of up to three years and confiscation of animals for the crime of killing or torturing animals for profit. The perpetrator may also be sentenced to a security measure prohibiting keeping and acquiring animals for a period of one to five years, or one to five years longer than the imposed prison sentence.

Animal Friends proposed that dog fights become a separate criminal offense, which would be punished with a prison sentence of up to three or five years. This includes everyone who participates in the abuse of dog fights – from those who breed, sell, or hand them over to others for fighting, train dogs for fighting, organize dog fights, advertise fights, organize betting, or take part in betting related to dog fights, attend dog fights as spectators or enable minors to attend. Although their proposal was not accepted, they point out that this case also shows how important it is to regulate dog fights through the next amendments to the Criminal Code. They wonder, if there are over 60 dogs fighting in the centre of Split, how many of them are there in the whole of Croatia.

"Taking care of as many as 67 dogs and 2 wolves, a strictly protected species, is very demanding and a great financial and organizational burden, which includes the efforts of the police, veterinary inspections, shelters and animal protection associations. All of this could have been avoided if the new Regulation on dangerous dogs had entered into force, which would have issued preventive measures for certain strong dog breeds and their crossbreeds from uncontrolled breeding – mandatory neutering and socialization, which includes training and a socialization test. Such dogs cannot be used for fighting", Animal Friends explains.

Although the public debate on this matter ended in 2021, it did not proceed to further procedure after that. The current Regulation is 16 years old, is not harmonized with the current Animal Protection Act and needs to be changed urgently due to the growing number of dog bites and attacks, as well as dog fights that are held secretly throughout Croatia. Animal Friends Croatia calls on the Ministry of Agriculture to adopt a new Regulation on dangerous dogs as soon as possible in order to prevent dog attacks on people and other animals, tragic deaths like the one that happened recently in Zadar, as well as dog fights.

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