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The Balkans: Violent Treatment of Animals

The civil war that was waged in the former communist Yugoslavia during the 1990’s resulted in several hundred thousand people killed and almost a million refugees. After the war, crime and various forms of violence became a regular occurrence in the countries of the region. Victims have mostly been different national and religious groups, the gay population and Gypsies. Recently, animals have also become a target of the bullies. Almost every day some dogs or cats are being exposed to torture by cruel people who record their cruelties and publish the video on the internet.

In mid-April, a lot of people in Serbia were shocked by a terrible video of violence against a female dog which was shown by TV channels. An anonymous monster cut off the dog’s paws and left her to lie in the puddle of blood in one of Belgrade’s street.

On that occasion Goran Paskaljevic, a well-known filmmaker and president of the association for animal protection called SOS Animals, said this to the daily newspaper Blic:

I am shocked that something like that could happen. I expect that the police will find the culprit, even though the victim is not a human, but an animal.

He added:

Those who could carry out such a monstrous act against an infirm dog that couldn’t commit anything bad are dangerous for people as well.

Blogger Dragan Jakovljevic wrote a very sad post, in which he asked the female dog called Mila to forgive the sin of the mankind:

[...] ”Each sin, even the smallest one, affects the fate of the world,” said the old man Siluan. And each virtue does, too: because a victim – in this case, a female dog Mila – is not alone anymore. Tens of thousands of people are offering their help and searching for the monster. Their voices are currently saving this planet. Thanks to them, I dare look into Mila’s eyes, at least on the only endlessly sad [photo] which has appeared on the internet these days, and say: “Forgive, if you can.”

Since one woman found Mila under her car and took her to a veterinary clinic, doctors gave the female dog the first aid. Now Mila is recovering from the wounds and waiting for an operation in Germany where she should get the prosthetics on her legs so that she could walk again.

Just a few weeks after the event, a new disturbing video of violence against a kitten appeared on Srdan Stankovic's page profile (the video has since been removed).

A couple days ago, lawyers of radio and TV station B92 brought a criminal charge against him. Also, a group “Sprecimo nasilje nad zivotinjama” (Stop Abusing Animals) has been created on the Facebook. This group already has more than 44,000 members. Their message is:

STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST ANIMALS!!!
If you love animals, please help save them from cruelty!
If you love animals, join the animal rescue team in your community!

Animals have feelings, just like you or me. Treat animals like you would want to be treated if you were them.

The question is: where are the roots of more and more brutal violence in Serbia?

Dragan Popadic, a social psychologist, said on the web site of Radio Free Europe that the civil war is not the only reason. He added:

That is part of the problem. But I think that we are supposed to look for the roots of violence in something that is present in the current situation. In my opinion, there are no reactions to violence [...]. Tolerance towards violence, a tendency that some forms of violence are seen as good violence is tremendously polluting our everyday lives, leading to these excessive and brutal forms of violence.

On the same web page, a Serbian ballerina, writer and blogger Jelena Tinska said:

The Vietnam syndrome has taken over the rule of Serbia, somnambulists stroll over the streets, young boys kill girls. The man who cut the legs of this dog, tomorrow he will cut the breasts of his girlfriend if she cheats on him, because he is a psychopath. Therefore, insane [bullies] are walking over our cities, but they have not been punished yet.

Serbia's neighbor Bosnia and Herzegovina is also facing violence against animals. According to Sarajevo’s daily newspaper “Oslobodjenje”, this past March there was a series of protests in Sarajevo which were organized by an association called “Friends of animals.” Direct pretext for those protests was a terrible video shot by three young people and published on Facebook. The video shows how these boys are setting a notorious pit-bull terrier on an infirm stray dog, and how the bloodthirsty animal is tearing its victim apart.

A lot of bloggers from this country reacted to the video very harshly.

Blogger zuti__karton published a post titled “How monstrous can we be?” As a dog owner and a volunteer at an animal shelter in Tuzla city, she reacted to the video very emotionally. Because of that, her first reaction should be perceived as a public appeal to everyone to stop abusing animals, not as an invitation to take revenge on the culprits of the brutal crime. She wrote:

[...] The only fair law is “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” and everyone should be treated according to this law [...] then I’d like to see who would repeat such a crime. [...]

[...] These are just some of the cases of violence against animals… Only God knows how many others there are… Is anyone asking himself how monstrous a creature we can be, how primitive we can be. Can we be even worse? I think we can, because we are people, not animals. [...]

[...] We often kill for the sake of fun, out of jealousy, for money or for similar senseless reasons. We wage wars because misters from TV tell us to do that, because someone has this or that kind of name, because someone is black and someone else is white, because of the damned colors. [...]

Medo_Lee wrote:

[...] Protection of animal rights and taking care of animals is typical of western, democratic, civilized and prosperous societies and we are so far away from that level.

Human is the worst animal and a proof of that is what's happening to us. [...]

Blogger Mafa has a totally different opinion. He published a short post titled “Violence against animals is justified”:

Look at what these little monsters [dogs] have done to a young man… One of them bit off his leg. This young man will never be able to walk, not to mention play football :( He doesn’t have enough money to buy a Sony PlayStation, so his life is, to say the least, destroyed. Why did the dog make him disabled? Why? How could this dog be so cruel :( if the man had had a pit-bull, like Kemal, it's certain that he wouldn’t have experienced this misfortune. :(

Croatia has almost the same problem as Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On March 4 this year, daily newspaper Jutarnji List published an article about brutal violence against dogs and cats in the cities of Vinkovci and Vukovar:

Newspapers are often full of articles about the abuse of animals. Every time people are shocked by the brutality of violence. So citizens of Vinkovci were upset on Wednesday when a dog with severe scalding injuries of its nose, head and back was found in the center of the city. There was a thick wire hoop tied around its neck. [...]

[...] A few days before, association “dr Ivan Rostas” warned about one case of animal abuse, this time, against cats in Vukovar. They received the disturbing news from Vukovar about cats that were being exposed to brutal torture by a group of children and several adults from the nearby apartment buildings. They also published photos of a cat whose eye was torn out and another cat whose tail was cut off. Poor animals had also been exposed to stones and slingshots.

Animal fans and online activists from Croatia have created Facebook groups, too, in which they invite people to join them in protection of the animals.

A devastating fact is that in all of these countries there are laws for protection of animals but, unfortunately, they are not applied in practice.

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