Dijana Milosevic did contact our foundation last week because she is concerned about the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Below you find the text of the letter she wrote in January to the EU parliament. We congratulate Dijana with her courageous performance and now ask for the support of the audience. Below the text you find a link to a petition against the current state of affairs. We want to warn you that behind some links shocking images can be found.
Letter to the EU parliament
Millions of EU citizens care deeply about animal welfare and are sickened to see constant reports of horrific animal cruelty, and look to the EU to help improve animal welfare across Europe. Countries seeking to acquire EU membership need to demonstrate certain standards of animal care, and so I want to bring to your attention Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are seeking admission.
As you will be aware, the European Union provides the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and with many millions of euros worth of financial aid each year. I believe the allocation for 2012 was around €107.8m.
My understanding of the provisos attached to these aid packages is that there is a requirement for the recipient country to abide by EU laws which would include the laws related to animal welfare. The Commission has stated that aligning national animal welfare legislation with EU law is a prerequisite for EU membership.
Many international animal welfare organizations cite Bosnia as the country with the most instances of horrific animal cruelty and suffering. One such issue has been reported widely in the last year, the plight of dogs in their shelters. Not only are the conditions entirely inhumane in most, if not all, state shelters, but it is common knowledge amongst Bosnian animal welfare activists that shelters are used to launder money from public budgets. Population control and promotion of spaying and neutering as well as implementation of the animal welfare law is not in any shelter manager’s interest because they want and need a constant flow of new dogs so they can justify the funds spent each month from the budget.
Activists visited Hreša shelter in November 2013, but were not only prevented from taking a severely emaciated, suffering dog to veterinary care but were threatened by the shelter manager. Sources state money was stolen from Hreša shelter funds during financial pre-election maneuvers. We have access to images from the state dog shelter in Banja Luka, the second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These images show dogs that were killed by injections of bleach and a dog killed by other dogs. Images from other state shelters show horrifically starving dogs and dog corpses left amongst living dogs.
Please view this petition demanding investigation into activities at a shelter in Hreša, activities which animal activists in Bosnia say are typical throughout their country.
Due to pressure from local and international animal advocates, the State Veterinary Office attempted an investigation, but could not proceed because the shelter was quickly closed and dogs removed—presumably killed—before they could begin. The shelter re-opened this year, and Ibrahim Hadžibajrić, Mayor of Stari Grad Municipality in Sarajevo has stated he has signed an agreement with the Hreša Municipality to send dogs from Stari Grad to the Hreša shelter. Hreša Municipality is in an area of Bosnia which allows ‘euthanization’ of dogs after 30 days in shelters, whereas it is illegal to do this in Stari Grad Municipality in Sarajevo.
Conditions at Hreša remain dire for dogs: recently activists found a mother dog who had given birth on frozen concrete, several of her litter subsequently freezing to death, being just one example. In the last few days, there have been further threats against animal activists from the director of the Hreša shelter because the animal activists from Sarajevo have publicised their findings.
Deliberate animal abuse is rife in Bosnia: there is the famous case last year in Ilidža in central Bosnia and Herzegovina, where two men put a rocket explosive firework into a young German Shepherd’s mouth and duct-taped his jaws shut, setting the rocket alight. The firework caused horrific injuries to the dog’s face, but did not kill him. He wandered about for five days before being finally rescued by animal welfare volunteers The dog had to be euthanized. Nearly 200,000 people signed these petitions asking the Bosnian and Herzegovinian authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice, but nothing was done.
There is clear evidence now that people who take pleasure in harming animals are also a potential danger to other people, especially children. All abuses get discovered and publicized widely in the media and internet, and millions of people do not want to visit or trade with countries who treat animals like this as they are simply not trusted, so the authorities should have incentive to take action.
I would urge you please to raise these issues with the European Commission and the European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of animals (http://www.animalwelfareintergroup.eu/). It is imperative that the European Commission and the Parliament discusses the matter of animal welfare with their Bosnia and Herzegovina counterparts and urgently demands a full investigation into the state shelters and animal abuse cases.
The European Parliament states that “The EU has among the world’s highest standards of animal welfare”. The Eurogroup for Animal Welfare ( http://eurogroupforanimals.org/ )is strongly urging the European Commission to adopt adequate measures to ensure that all pet animals are properly treated to protect their health and welfare. If it is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s wish to join the EU it would seem that until their government takes crimes against defenseless, sentient animals seriously they will not be a fit country to be accepted into the EU.
I should like to add to this letter the fact that last year dozens of strays have been rescued form the street. Injured, abandoned by the owner or chased by people. These dogs have been cured, spayed/ neutered from donated money and then put back on street. All these efforts of the volunteers, pain that these animals have endured and the donated money were for nothinas donated for nothing, because these dogs are being picked up and brought to the for nothing, because these dogs are now picked up and brought to the open shelter Hresa to be killed.
Many thanks for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.