By Sasa Milosevic (Global Voices)
Five years ago, Brigitte Bardot, President of the Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals, sent a protest letter to the Serbian President Boris Tadic, requesting him “to end the revolting massacre of Serbia’s stray animals”:
[…] Your people have shown their bloody and criminal behavior towards animals. Your capital is becoming, like Bucharest, a window of horror. Neither the Belgrade marathon, nor the 2005 euro basketball can justify this barbaric “cleaning”. You have the power to change all this and to restore Serbia’s dignity. Push the elaboration of an animal welfare bill, which favours sterilization and vaccination campaigns for stray animals, similar to Greece and Turkey. Teach your people that animals, even strays, have the right to our respect and compassion. […]
At the time, this appeal was largely ignored by Tadic and other Serbian officials. Now, however, the President happens to be one of the many Serbs who want to adopt Mila, a mutilated female dog whose awful case was covered on GV by Sinisa Boljanovic this past May).
Yet, as a potential “adoptive parent,” the President of Serbia will have to meet very stringent requirements prescribed by the Secretariat for Municipal Affairs:
Dog Mila must have 24-hour care and human presence. Adoptive parents must have a permanent and stable financial income due to the necessary medical care and enhanced nutrition. Mila must live with people who have a house with a yard – a natural space for rehabilitation – or an apartment with access to green outdoor areas. Also, an expert team of the veterinary institutions […] will have the right to conduct a medical examination of Mila once a month, and check how she is being treated.
While Mila the dog was rescued and became a symbol of the suffering of Serbia’s stray animals, the violence continues – and gets reported and discussed in the local mainstream and citizen media.
Last week, a shocking photo of a massacred female dog lying in a pool of blood, with her four puppies still suckling her, was published in the Serbian daily Alo. The police of the town of Zajecar are still searching for the unknown monster who killed this dog.
In Belgrade’s Pancevo bridge neighborhood, a 65-year-old man slit the throat of rottweiler Rauf, a local security dog, while walking with a friend and his little terrier. The rottweiler, described as a very peaceful dog, approached them, not even barking, and the killer patted it, then took out a knife and repeatedly stabbed it. The wounded dog retreated to the gravel pits, where it bled to death.
Abazi Muhammad, the man who used to feed Rauf, asked the killer why he did it – and got this in response:
Do you want me to kill you, too?!
A 2-year-old mixed-breed dog named Djole was shot to death near the place where Mila the mutilated dog had been found. A little boy who lives there found the dead dog – and also saw a hooded stranger running away down the street.
A 32-year-old nurse from Pozarevac tied a dog to her car and dragged it down several blocks (a distressing YouTube video of the incident is here). The dog was severely injured, but survived, and is now at a local animal shelter. The police filed criminal charges against the woman; she refused to explain why she had tortured the dog.
Children in Nis recorded a scene from horror films on their mobile phones: six dogs previously strangled were hung on a tree. The children forwarded photos to the association “Planet Zoo” with a request to discover the perpetrator of the massacre. Following a police investigation, charges were filed against two juveniles, aged 17 and 15.
A Serbian dentist Zubarica from Kraljevo witnessed how children were torturing a cat:
I was sitting at my desk in front of the window when I saw something flying towards the window, hitting the reinforced glass and falling down on the platform outside… A kitten! The poor thing was thrown at the glass like a ball, like a stone. I was so distressed I did not know what to say. The kitten was in pain, howling. I went out, but I only managed to see from afar the two persons who had “played” with the kitten – two boys, 6 years old or so. […] Where do I live? Who are these children’s parents? Are they children at all? Are they human beings?
They are the mindless beasts whose parents never read Cinderella, Peter Pan, The Beauty and the Beast, Aesop’s Fables and Andersen’s fairy tales to them. They began their childhood by killing virtual monsters in video games.
Jovan Stankovic wrote:
A child who threw a cat against the window copied that act from his own home. He saw how Dad pushes Mom against the wall or a window in one of the frequent family quarrels that have traumatically affected him…
In 2008, for the first time in the Serbian judicial history, one person received a 3-month prison sentence for killing animals. The rest of the 14 animal abuse cases, however, resulted in fines only.
The Serbian Association of Friends of the Animals (EPAR) stresses that the Serbian Criminal Code should be more rigorous, as some of the domestic laws (e.g., the Veterinary Legal Code, Article 46 and 138) support inhuman treatment of stray animals:
In the Republic of Serbia, dogs and cats experience inhumane capture and death in a never ending attempt by authorities to control the stray animal populations of towns and cities.
Death is administered in many ways by the Serbian government authorities:
1. by paralysis of the respiratory system through T-61 injections into the heart or lungs […];
2. by injection of Nuvan and Kreozan poisons, causing death by suffocation;
3. by burying alive;
4. by clubbing to death […];
5. by sealing animals in plastic bags and disposing of them at garbage dumps;
Professor Ivan Dimitrijevic, a psychiatrist at Belgrade’s Medical School, notes that those who torture and kill animals belong to the group of deranged persons with a severe psychotic disorder:
If the person is weak and lonely, and does not seek help, he can do similar things to both people and animals. This person has to be urgently treated.