In 2015, Animal Friends Croatia investigated a case of horrific animal cruelty at a Roma settlement in Međimurje County. The investigation revealed an alarming situation overall, and highlighted the necessity of providing emergency assistance for both the dogs and the Roma settlements.
While visiting the settlement – better than most when it comes to the treatment of animals – the Animal Friends team was astonished by the poor conditions of the dogs. A large number of dogs suffer in dogfights. Besides deliberate cruelty, locals do not have basic knowledge or access to information about the proper treatment of animals. The sight of uncastrated and sick dogs roaming the streets and around every house seems to belong to some other time and place. Anyone who has seen it can testify that the dogs and the people alike need quick and concrete assistance.
Although a part of the public expressed anger towards the Roma people, the fact is that the existing situation is largely thanks to people from cities who leave unwanted dogs close to Roma settlements – as well as those who knew but kept silent, not undertaking anything, until the shocking footage of dog torture was revealed.
Animal Friends Croatia sent a report to the Ministry of Agriculture and other relevant ministries, the government, veterinary inspectors, District Attorney’s Office, Police Department and the president of the state, seeking to urgently address the problem of abandonment, neglect and ruthless forms of torture of dogs in Roma settlements in Međimurje County. It was emphasized that this is a very complex problem and that the solution requires persistence, patience and engagement of experts from various fields – not just those involved in animal protection.
The situation is still quite alarming, with many abandoned dogs even a few years after our first reactions. We are constantly trying to provide emergency help for both the dogs and the Roma people.
Today in 2018, about 3,000 dogs are still left on their own, all in poor condition. They are not sterilized, they don’t have microchips, and they are hungry, abused and sick. During winter 2017/2018 we sighted around 30 pregnant bitches, and stumbled across puppies frozen to death. The closest dog shelter in the town of Čakovec sometimes receives 20 puppies daily from these settlements, and all of them are sick. The shelter is full and needs help to expand its capacity.
The good news is that our Ministry, after many years of waiting, is finally taking action to solve the problem and will finance a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and adoption program for all dogs in Roma settlements. This is the result of years of lobbying by animal protection organizations. The action should start in May and finish when all dogs are neutered, but is a huge undertaking and will be difficult to complete without further help.
The Croatian Ministry of Agriculture will finance the castration of all dogs, but given the large number of dogs that need to be castrated in the shortest time possible, any outside assistance is welcome. We need professional veterinarians and volunteers, dog food and medicine, and help in advertising animals ready for adoption and securing necessary funds. The challenge may seem daunting, but also presents an opportunity to save many dogs and prevent tremendous long-term suffering.
The schedule is tight and there are around 3,000 dogs to take care of. Please help us make the most of this opportunity we have been waiting for many years. This is the biggest dog protection action ever undertaken in Croatia, and without your help and cooperation we cannot achieve it.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any further information about how you can get involved.