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News 09 Oct 17

Albanians Demand Animal Rights Law After Seeing Cruel Video

Disgusted by footage of a dog being beaten to death, Albanian animal rights activists are demanding a new law against animal cruelty – after Croatia changed its laws on Wednesday.

Fatjona Mejdini, Sven Milekic
BIRN
Tirana, Zagreb
Animal lovers gathered on Saturday in Tirana to sign petitions for an animal protection law. Photo: Animal Rescue Albania 

Animal rights supporters in Albania are demanding new legislation against animal cruelty as disturbing footage emerges of acts of horrific violence against animals.

Footage spread on social media on October 3 of a leashed dog being beaten to death has shocked the public and further emboldened animal rights activists to push for legislation punishing such abusers.

Police identified three minors in the town of Kucova for killing the dog and announced an investigation.

But representatives of animal rights organisations said such cases are almost routine, and called for a specific law on animal protection.

Animal Rescue Albania has taken the lead in the online campaign for such a law. On Saturday, activists started collecting signatures for a petition to parliament.

"To stop the killings, torture, abuse and pain, Albania needs a law that punishes cruelty to animals," the petition read.

Activists aim to gather 20,000 signatures in support of the cause.

The new law would not only prohibit cruelty to animals but also create a proper legal framework for stray animals and animal rights generally.

Despite the previous lack of support from MPs, the activists believe that the current momentum will aid their push for a draft law.

They take heart from the fact that Croatia's parliament on Wednesday, World Animal Day, passed a new law toughening up protection of animals.

The new law supports the establishment of “no-kill” animal shelters. Previously, shelters could put stray dogs and cats to sleep after they spent 60 days in the shelter.

It also obliges each of Croatia’s 20 counties and the city of Zagreb to set up at least one shelter for 50 animals. Counties that do not open such a shelter by December 31, 2018, risk fines.

The law also allows counties and towns to limit the number of stray dogs and cats by permanently sterilising them. The local authorities will also have to take care of all animals wounded by unknown perpetrators.

The law also bans different forms of cruelty to animals, such as sexual intercourse, keeping bears and dolphins in captivity, using wild animals to perform in circuses, keeping dogs constantly tied up with chains in yards, deliberately running over animals, shooting and throwing firecrackers at them, ripping-out live birds' feathers and using horses to pull logs from forests.

Dog breeders will have to register breeding dogs, which will be available for breeding only at a prescribed age, and if they are not wounded or in bad health. The process of putting microchips in pets will also be enhanced.

“After years of working and waiting, we are looking forward to the new law," Luka Oman from Zagreb-based Friends of Animals, told the Croatian daily Jutarnji list on Wednesday.

"If it is put immediately into implementation, everyone will feel good; animals will be better off and local communities will make more savings,” Oman added.

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