Martina Plantak


Two months ago, Croatian citizen Ivor Ivanišević, former member of the Ecumenical Council of the Croatian Bishops’ Conference, was sentenced to a year in prison for raping, starving, and sodomizing his two dogs. One of the dogs later died. This is the maximum penalty prescribed by the Croatian Criminal Code for such a heinous crime. In the meantime, Ivor Ivanišević is nowhere to be found, as he moved to Belgium and works for the European Parliament (currently taking a sick leave).

This whole year, the Croatian NGO “Animal Friends“ was pursuing a national campaign against keeping dogs on a chain, which is unfortunately still very common in Croatia. After an extremely successful and visible campaign and petition, the Croatian ministry of agriculture, which is in charge of this issue, despite the promises, has not included in their plan for 2022 an amendment to the Animal Protection Act and a change in the provision that would completely prohibit the keeping of dogs on a chain. The explanation was that there was literally no one to do it physically. Let’s remember that at the moment of writing, on the Croatian labor market the number of unemployed people is 123.871.

This brings me to the latest horrifying thing that happened today, and which was also the reason that I finally decided to write about animal abuse in Croatia. In general, animal rights are regularly violated and in this specific context, it is no secret that animals have been horribly abused in Roma settlements in Croatia for decades. Today, a local animal shelter published a post in which members of the Roma ethnic group threw a live dog into a trash can and then drowned it in a nearby stream. And such things happen regularly. Volunteers come to these settlements intending to rescue dogs, most often finding them sick, beaten, starved, or dead. Still, being an ethnic minority, Roma in Croatia are so protected that even the slightest “encroachment on their rights” is immediately considered being discrimination and racism.

And that is why I would like this article to be published, and forego my silence: so that the absolute incompetence and lack of interest of this pro-European government when it comes to animal rights can be heard outside the borders of this country. It is shameful that such things still happen in 2021 in one of the EU member states.

So Croatia, maybe you have done nothing for me and so many people in my generation who live abroad because they were sick and tired of your corruption and nepotism. That ship has already sailed.

But there is still time to change something. Something that will finally move you away from the stereotype of a peripheral Balkan state and show your true Europeanness.  Step up. Do something for these vulnerable beings. Pass a law banning dogs from being chained. Send “your people” to those villages – have them contribute to society. Rescue these poor beings from a life of suffering and abuse in Roma settlements. Don’t keep a blind eye, just because this ethnic minority will vote for you in elections.

If we are already at the bottom of the European Union by all indicators, perhaps at least this could be a positive example of our progress.

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