The stray dog situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is dire and you can help. As a result of the Bosnian War between 1992 and 1995, the population of stray dogs has skyrocketed over the past two decades. During the war, many dogs were abandoned because their owners were unable to provide them with food and necessary resources. Left unchecked, the stray dog population began to exponentially grow and spread across the country.
In 2009, the Bosnian government passed a law which explicitly prohibits catching and killing of stray dogs by municipal workers. Stray animals may only be euthanized if it is determined by a veterinarian to be the only possible and humane measure. The 2009 Animal Protection and Welfare law also outlines a series of humane measures to ensure population control and long-term solution to the problem of stray animals in the country. However, the government has failed to implement any provisions of the law.
Meanwhile, tortured dogs and cats can be found all across BiH. They are subjected to daily harassment by ordinary people and public institutions with the backing of elected officials, law enforcement, and judicial entities. Dogs that are not outright killed by illegal dog catchers are taken to public “shelters” which function as concentration camps for animals, used as schemes to collect public funding intended for the provision of the animal welfare law. The owners bill the government for services that are never used, such as spay/neuter programs, animal food, veterinary examinations and treatment, and euthanasia supplies. In reality, the stray animals are tortured and killed by inhumane and illegal methods.
On September 11, 2014, the government reached a controversial decision to reactivate the notorious dog catching and rendering service to capture and euthanize “aggressive, dangerous, and sick dogs.” The government has also failed to implement any organized effort to promote pet adoption and educate the public regarding responsible dog ownership and safety. Animal welfare activists are consistently blocked by the government and law enforcement authorities to help stray dogs.
Nearly all mainstream media outlets in Bosnia and Herzegovina are refusing to investigate and expose the prevalent corruption and inhumane treatment of animals. While they are willing to write sensationalized stories of dog attacks on people, the media is silent on the systematic elimination and torture of animals, as well as pervasive corruption driving this problem.
The general public in Bosnia and Herzegovina has a relatively negative view and fear of stray animals. Moreover, there are many it is recorded instances of ordinary people engaging in horrific cases of animal cruelty: poisoning, hanging, beating, shooting, and torturing of stray dogs. As a result, the general public is more willing to overlook gross animal abuses and the government’s failures to implement humane policies to control the stray dog population in BiH.
A group of local journalists are trying to spread the word about the horrendous plight of animals in their country. They are also trying to raise funds to spay and neuter the dogs at a local shelter. Please help if you can and be sure to spread the word about this atrocity!