Abandoning animals in Croatia is now punishable by imprisonment

Abandoning animals in Croatia is now punishable by imprisonment

Amendments to the Criminal Code came into force on Tuesday, and with them changes to animal protection.

Abandoning a pet, domestic animal or wild animal will be reported to the police or the Municipal State Attorney’s Office. The penalty is up to one year in prison or up to two years if the abandonment has caused the death of the animal or a large number of animals have been abandoned.

The penalties for the crime of killing and torturing animals are increased to a prison sentence of up to two years or up to three years if these crimes are committed for profit.

In addition, animal abusers and killers can now be subject to a security measure banning the keeping and purchase of animals for a period of one to five years.

Direct report to the police

All the above-mentioned news are proposals that the association Animal Friends Croatia sent to the Ministry of Justice and Administration during the work on amendments to the Criminal Code. They say that they are extremely grateful to the Ministry for accepting their proposals and thereby making a historic step forward in the protection of animals in Croatia, which will have a positive impact everywhere in the world.

They explain that citizens will no longer need to wait to see if the veterinary inspection will respond to the report of abandonment, but can immediately report whoever abandons an animal to the police: “It will speed up the procedure and make it easier to prove the act of abandonment. At the same time, it will dissuade people from abandoning animals because they know that they risk a prison sentence,” said the association Animal Friends Croatia.

They add that this will encourage cities and municipalities to work in parallel to prevent animal abandonment: “Local self-government units must carry out the microchip control of dogs by visiting all households, which they have been legally obliged to do since 2017, because the microchip contains information about the dog’s guardian. The municipalities that have not yet implemented this should be penalised. They must also educate the public about responsible animal care and fund the neutering of dogs and cats. Instead of abandoning animals, pet owners can help them by neutering and adopting them responsibly instead of buying them.”

Up to three years in prison for torturing and killing animals

In addition, the more severe penalties for killing and torturing animals will be enforced only thanks to the reports of witnesses. The association Animal Friends Croatia encourages citizens to contact it if they have any doubts about the procedure for reporting criminal offences and offences against animals: “A report is very important and serves to impose a security measure that prohibits the keeping and acquisition of animals. The court can impose it on someone who has committed an offence against an animal if there is a risk that they will commit the same or a similar offence.”

On 2 April 2024, an increase in the penalties for torturing and killing animals came into force, which now amount to up to three years in prison. The increase in fines is also important because it is now much more difficult for cases to become time-barred. The association Animal Friends Croatia points out that the new provisions of the Criminal Code should be the trigger for further legislative changes, especially amendments to the Animal Protection Act and related ordinances. They also believe that it is important to establish an inspectorate for animal protection and form a department for animal protection in the Ministry of Agriculture.

The provisions on animal welfare in the amendments to the Criminal Code can only be brought to life in practise through the joint action of citizens and competent institutions. The association Animal Friends Croatia therefore call on anyone who has information about violations of the law to report the abandonment and mistreatment of animals.

Abandoning animals in Croatia is now punishable by imprisonment

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