Saturday, 4 September 2021

Vegefino’s Tofu Omelette Declared Most Innovative Vegan Product at ZeGeVege

ZAGREB, 4 Sept, 2021 - Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković, who on Saturday visited the 13th edition of the ZeGeVege festival of sustainable living, presented an award to the Vegefino company for the most innovative vegan product: tofu omelette.

The director of the company, Tino Pažur, who received the award, said that they had taken over this vegan brand last year.

The company plans to expand its business in Croatia as well as to neighbouring countries, he said adding that their products are in rising demand.

The minister also conferred awards on the family-run farm "OPG Diana Prpić" and the m-creations company.

The two-day ZeGeVege Festival of Sustainable Living opened in Zagreb's main square Trg Bana Jelačića on Friday, featuring health food, plant-based cosmetics and nine restaurants offering vegetarian food.

Eighty exhibitors are offering products made solely from plants, including traditional Croatian dishes, vegetable soups, sausages, spreads and vegan sweets.

The festival is organised for the 13th time by the Friends of Animals association, after last year's break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Sunday, 25 July 2021

26,000 Animals Used in Experiments in Croatia, Says Association

ZAGREB, 25 July, 2021 - The Animal Friends Croatia association recalled earlier this week that on 21 July 2005 the dogs from the "beagle scandal" at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine were released and adopted, and it warned about a report from the European Commission that 26,000 animals are used in experiments in Croatia.

Animal Friends Croatia said in the press release that the number of dogs used in experiments was unfortunately increasing, which is confirmed by the latest report from the European Commission, according to which over 10.5 million animals were used in experiments in European laboratories in 2018, including nearly 26,000 in Croatia.

The association recalled that on 21 July 2005, 32 scared and traumatised beagles, on which bone-breaking experiments had been conducted illegally at Zagreb's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, had been released.

Despite the reports filed, no one responsible for the procurement and conducting of experiments has been prosecuted to date, the association warned.

It believes, however, that there has been a shift because last week's report from the European Commission states that Croatia did not use dogs in experiments in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Unfortunately, Croatia still used a huge number of mostly mice, followed by rats, domestic poultry, rabbits, zebrafish, sheep, pigs, horses, donkeys and their hybrids, as well as guinea pigs, the association warned.

According to data, over 1,200 animals have never recovered from the experiments.

Animal Friends Croatia stressed that the European Commission, in order to move towards the ultimate goal of completely replacing animals and in response to requests for greater transparency, had launched the first statistical database, ALURES, which provides free access to information on using animals for scientific purposes in the EU. The data are collected by member states and sent to the Commission every year.

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Tuesday, 20 July 2021

European Commission to End Caged Animal Farming in EU By 2027

July 20, 2021 - The "End the Cage Age" campaign to ban caged animal farming was approved by the European Commission with the support of the European Parliament. 170 European animal rights associations, including Animal Friends Croatia, celebrated this major step towards improving animal welfare in Europe!

Since the launch of the End the Cage Age campaign in September 2018 headed by Compassion in World Farming EU, it garnered 1.4 million signatures and big support from citizens and animal welfare associations all over Europe. Two of these associations include Animal Friends Croatia and Victorious Association who were responsible for collecting signatures from Croatian citizens who were supportive of this campaign. Last June 30, 2021, the European Commission finally announced their commitment to phase out animal cages in European farms by 2027 making it the first successful civic animal welfare initiative in the European Union!

 

The European Parliament also supported the banning of cages in animal farming. BBC reported that the parliament had "grave concerns" about animal housing and well-being in farms, with a lot of these animals not having enough space to stand straight, stretch or even turn around. Stella Kyriakides, the EU health commissioner, also announced that animals are sentient beings and humans have a moral and societal responsibility to make sure that on-farm conditions for animals reflect this. According to BBC, the EU has one of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, however, the data collected by the End the Cage Age suggested that it still has a lot of room for improvement. As of 2020, it showed that 94% of EU's farmed rabbits are caged and so are 49% of farmed hens and 85% of farmed sows. 

The European Commission is aiming to revise current EU legislation with a commitment to present a legislative proposal by the end of 2023 and to completely phase out the use of cages for hens, cows, rabbits, calves, ducks, geese, and other farmed animals by 2027. The commission also expressed commitment to ensure that the EU will only import products from non-EU countries which comply with cage-free standards and lastly, to provide systems, incentives, and financial support to European farmers in their transition to cage-free farming. The End the Cage Age announced that this monumental event is not the end and success of the campaign, on the other hand, it is only the beginning. The campaign's mission now is to monitor and ensure that the European Commission and the promised legislative laws and processes would be delivered. It is also now reported that some EU countries are already supporting this change. Austria and Luxembourg have already banned battery caging of hens entirely while the Czech Republic and Germany have started implementing protocols to unilaterally ban caged hens by 2025. 

Many associations celebrated this big milestone in animal welfare in Europe including a number of politicians and members of the Parliament and longtime animal rights advocates, Tilly Metz and Francisco Guerreiro. According to Animal Friends Croatia, the approval of the petition is a huge victory for animals and a big step in the fight to completely stop the exploitation and killing of animals. “The European Commission's commitment to ban cages across Europe will have a huge impact on millions of animals. We want to thank all the 1.4 million EU citizens and the hundreds of organizations that have fought for this historic moment.", said Reineke Hameleers - the Executive Director of Eurogroup for Animals. The Osijek Association Pobjeda also thanked everyone who supported the campaign by signing and sharing the information. The activists are proud to make a difference to more than 300 million farmed animals that are immensely suffering from harsh animal farming conditions. Animal Friends Croatia also invites everyone to switch to a plant-based diet and in order to not further contribute to animal cruelty by procuring animal-based food and products. "It is horrible that in industrial farming, animals are being kept their whole short lives in cramped cages in which they cannot even turn around, and then brutally end up in a slaughterhouse.", said AFC.

To learn more about End the Cage Age campaign, CLICK HERE.

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Sunday, 11 July 2021

Croatian Firefighting Community Joins Campaign Against Chaining Dogs

ZAGREB, 11 July, 2021 - The Croatian Firefighting Community has decided to support the national campaign for ending the practice of tethering dogs.

The community's president Slavko Tucaković has recently said that unfortunately during their rescue operations firefighters witnessed sometimes cruelty towards animals, when they could not rescued chained dogs.

They were also shaken by images of chained dogs during their rescue operations in the earthquake-hit Sisak-Moslavina areas in late 2020, which prompted the to join this campaign for banning the chaining of dogs.

The HGSS mountain rescue service has already joined the campaign.

The Croatian association - Animals' Friends - proposed the ban on keeping dogs on chains together with the Čakovec asylum and Victory NGO. They received support for their proposal from the PETA organisation.

PETA called on Croatian officials to take the necessary steps and support the ban on keeping dogs on chains which is already prohibited in many European countries like Austria, Germany, Hungary and Malta and in some states in the USA.

The Animals' Friends association recalled that the suffering of dogs on chains was highlighted in 2020 when volunteers went to help earthquake-struck areas in Sisak-Moslavina County where they came across dogs on chains, abandoned and left to die in the ruins.

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Thursday, 8 July 2021

Street Cat Poisonings in Dalmatia Continue: Family of Cats Found Poisoned in Zadar Centre

July 8, 2021 - While others are raising funds to help the street cats of Split and Hvar, few heartless people still exist and are secretly poisoning these innocent animals. Will the rampant cat poisoning problem in Dalmatia ever stop? A look at the recent events with street cat poisonings in Dalmatia.

In the morning of July 7, 2021, TCN received a report from Luana Matosevic regarding a family of street cats that was found dead on the street of Dragutina Parčica in the centre of Zadar. 

"Close to my office, there is a small group of stray cats that are fed by an old kind lady every day. They live between buildings in a quiet place and they live peacefully. Together with this old lady, I have been feeding them and giving them antibiotics because the two kittens have a minor case of conjunctivitis. This morning, however, we found 4 of these cats poisoned - including a less-than-a-month-old kitten and her mother.", wrote Luana. 

213595836_2684219518542615_7471655743086258606_n_1.jpgPhoto of a kitten and her mother before they were found poisoned | Photo credit: Luana Matošević

Upon discovery of this heinous crime, a woman called the police and reported the incident. According to Antenazadar.hr, Ivana Grbin, the spokesperson for the Zadar Police, informed them that after receiving a report about several dead cats that were found on Dragutina Parčića Street on the morning of July 7, 2021, police officers together with a veterinary inspector were dispatched to check the scene. Currently, investigations are being carried out to determine all the circumstances. 

209625024_184930280312228_8746274680073357125_n_1.jpgMother and kitten found poisoned the last 7th of July, 2021 in Zadar | Photos by: Nina Begonja

"We don't know who did this, but someone gave them poisoned food. The old woman who fed those cats every day has some suspicions as to who could have done it. Apparently, there are two people in the neighborhood who detest cats - but we have no proof.", Luana added.

There are two small kittens who did not get poisoned. One of them was adopted by Luana herself, and the other one was brought to the veterinary hospital by the woman who called the police. The kitten is still looking for her forever home. 

Last year, TCN reported on this horrendous crime that's been plaguing the streets of Dalmatia for decades. Cat poisonings have been reported in the city of Split, on islands Čiovo, Hvar, and Brač and now in the city of Zadar. A lot of the incidents go unreported, too, because people simply believe that the authorities do not care. A spike of cat poisoning incidents has been observed to happen every summer. Jutarnji List reported last August 2020 that 17 cats were found poisoned, beaten, and even drowned on Hvar Island in a matter of weeks. The act of poisoning cats in summer sadly stems from the idea that street cats are pests, and that they need to go before the tourists arrive. "The motive is simple - out of season, cats are desirable because they 'control pests and snakes' so everyone feeds them and lets them reproduce uncontrollably, and in season, they are 'enemy number 1 when tourists come'", one source who has witnessed cat poisoning in Čiovo told TCN last year.

Video credit: Nina Begonja

Poisoning stray cats is not a solution to solve the stray population problem - the act is also harmful to dogs and humans especially, young children. It is detrimental to the tourism industry, too. The poisoning of 17 cats last year on the island of Hvar led some tourists to flee from their accommodation after finding a dead cat in the courtyard. The residents of Hvar were also terrified to bring their kids or their pets outside in fear of coming across this potent poison. 

TCN asked Luana if some measures have been discussed within the community to combat this problem and she answered, "People in Dalmata need to be sensitized more about respecting animals. We could start by starting to educate them about it from a young age in school. For example, in Switzerland, the schools engage the kids to help frogs cross the streets, they bring the students out to observe animals in nature, and sometimes, they allow students to bring their own pets in schools and present them to their classmates. Nothing extraordinary, but I think these activities will help a lot to sensitize people towards animals, especially children." She also added that Nina, the woman who reported the incident, will continuously engage with the police until they do something concrete.

"A lot of people are invested in finding out more details about this incident and ways to solve it. The idea to ask the municipality to put cameras in places where there are street cats and to sterilize the other cats left in that area has been proposed. HRT television and RTL Provjereno already contacted them to talk about the problem with poisoning, so this would hopefully go on a national level.", Luana said. 

Emphasizing that all animals are important, Luana told us that a lot of people have suggested that municipalities with veterinarians should invest more time in sterilizing stray cats and should invest some money in opening a shelter not only for dogs but also for cats and other wild animals like AWAP in Zagreb. According to her, in Dalmatia, there is not any rescue centre for other animals such as turtles, bats, rabbits, rodents, birds, etc.

Illegal wildlife poisoning

The poisoning of stray cats is not the only problem in Croatia, last year, poisoning of domestic and wild animals has been reported by 4Vultures.org. The illegal wildlife poisoning which happened in mid-January last year in the Lika region left many carcasses of wolves, foxes, cows, and even the endangered and protected Golden Eagle. According to 4Vultures, the most common poison used in Croatia are Carbofuran and Methomyl - two highly potent poisons that have long been banned in the EU which can easily kill humans who come in contact with it. The search team suspected that the poisoning was done by a local herder who tried to specifically target wolves in the area. They reported that two calf carcasses were found with ears cut off  (to remove the identity of the cattle's owner) and were injected with poison and left as bait. Soon afterward, inspectors found dead animal carcasses and also signs of severe diarrhea and vomiting which made it clear that these animals died from poisoning and under severe torment. The practice of illegal wildlife poisoning in Croatia has also caused the extinction of two vulture species in Croatia - the Cinereous and Egyptian Vulture. 

Reporting on animal abuse and punishment for violators

Animal Friends in Croatia advises animal violence witnesses to immediately call 192 and promptly request police intervention to prevent further endangerment of the animal, and the witness should file a written criminal report for the abuse and/or killing of the animal to the competent Municipal State Attorney's Office for violation of Article 205 of the Criminal Code. The incident also needs to be reported to the competent veterinary inspection and the witness needs to include as much evidence (photographs/videos, witness statements, autopsy findings, veterinary documentation) as possible to prove the allegations in the report. It is important to note that anonymous applications are generally not considered.

You may send your report and application for veterinary inspection to their website: dirh.gov.hr or to their e-mail address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To see the list of veterinary inspections by cities and counties, CLICK HERE

Killing or torturing animals in Croatia can see you imprisoned for up to a year.

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Sunday, 30 May 2021

Animal Friends Croatia Launches Project to Encourage Vegan Production

ZAGREB, 30 May, 2021 - Animal Friends Croatia has launched a project to encourage domestic producers to produce and sell new vegan products.

The project, backed by the Agriculture Ministry, is aimed at launching and intensifying the cooperation of Croatia's agricultural sector focused on the production of plant products and at promoting the visibility of plant products and a sustainable diet.

Animal Friends Croatia said the domestic producers that wanted to take part in the project should produce a vegan product as desired and/or in line with market needs based on their production.

The product should be a plant version of a product otherwise made with animal ingredients that everyone will gladly eat, independently of their diet. The product must be made without meat, eggs, milk or other dairy products, and honey.

The newly conceived plant products and their producers will be promoted at Animal Friends Croatia social media to link them with consumers.

Applications may be submitted as of 15 June, the date of the VegeFair, and Animal Friends Croatia will award the most innovative products at the ZeGeVege festival in September.

The production and consumption of vegan products is crucial for the survival of humankind as a plant-based diet, apart from saving billions of animals, is healthier, pollutes the environment far less and utilises natural resources more economically, Animal Friends Croatia said.

Cattle-breeding is responsible for 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions as well as for 65% of nitrous oxide emissions, which are 296 times more destructive than carbon dioxide, the added.

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Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Youth for Stray Dogs Project Talks About Current Animal Rights and Welfare in Croatia

May 19, 2021 - What to do when you see an animal being abused or abandoned? Who do you call? Learn the answers and find out more about current animal rights and welfare in Croatia, what we can do to improve it and get inspired to do volunteer work in this interview with Luana Matošević, the project coordinator of Udruga Prizma whose idea launched the project Youth for Stray Dogs held in Zadar just a week ago!

 

187280834_1947341228748137_5014010896373987168_n.jpg

Photo credit: Udruga Prizma

 

Luana Matosevic and Udruga Prizma's Creation of the Project 

What was the inspiration behind this project? 

Before moving to Croatia from Switzerland, I'd never seen a stray dog. When I arrived here in Zadar, me and my boyfriend found a puppy in a carton box on a road and this pushed me to start writing a project for young people on the subject of strays. Also, in the Erasmus Plus programme, there are still not many projects/youth exchanges related specifically to the protection of animals and raising awareness of their rights, and in my opinion, it is time to increase their presence. After that, the collaboration for the drafting of the project also began with other animal lovers, including the president of the Prizma association, Silvestar Petrov, and our partners from Serbia - SFERA Serbia and Ljubitelji životinja i prirode Zelene šape and from Greece - NGO Youth Active Minds

How did the situation with COVID-19 affect the creation of this project? Was it difficult to get participants? 

Yes, it affected it, because it became more complex at an organisational level: prevention measures against the spread of the virus must be taken into account (and therefore we need to avoid gatherings, try to do as many activities as we can outdoors and hope for sunny weather, find open structures for accommodation, etc.), tests must be organised before and after the trips of the participants, while always trying to stay within the project's budget. In addition, several  participants had to be changed due fear of travel or contracting the infection a few days before departure. As a result, finding participants was also more difficult than usual. But I can say that once the project started, they were all very happy to have chosen to participate and went beyond any fear of the pandemic. In addition, everybody tested negative for the novel virus at the end of the youth exchange! 

How important are the youth in the development of a better and more empathic community? How important is volunteering? 

We think that in order to contribute to solve the problem of strays (in general, I'm talking about animal rights), it's more efficient to prevent the causes and therefore inform and make future owners of animals aware about how to be a responsible owner. Young people are also full of desire to do things and make changes, they put their hearts into what they do and in this way, they're also able to motivate the less stimulated youngsters. Volunteering actions benefit the community, but they also benefit individuals on a personal level. People who volunteer, especially if they have economic/cultural/social obstacles, have the opportunity to feel part of a group, to feel useful and active in society, to take initiatives. And then it certainly increases the sensitivity of those who do it and this is never a bad thing. It is important on all levels and is also a way to learn new things in a non formal way.

About Animal Welfare 

With regard to responsible ownership:

What are the most common reasons why people abandon their dogs? 

  • Unwanted pregnancies (due to the absence of control of the dog outside the home, the absence of sterilisation and awareness campaigns on the subject)
  • Families which rush to get a puppy without being informed about what it means to take care of an animal (the dog becomes too big, too expensive, too big of a commitment) 
  • A dog is seen as something to be used (for hunting, for competitions, for fighting) and then when it is no longer in the best condition, it is no longer needed 
  • Dogs with complex behaviours that the owner doesn't know how to manage (and there is also lack of qualified dog trainers) 
  • The owner moves/has children/doesn’t have time for the dog anymore, or experiences economic issues

What are the things that people need to consider before getting a pet? 

  • Having a pet is a responsibility as it is a sentient living being that needs care, space, socialisation and movement for many years. 
  • It is useful to be informed about which breed you want to adopt - depending on the lifestyle you have. Not all breeds, for example, are optimal for families with children or for elderly people. 
  • Neutering, microchipping and vaccinating pets is important! 
  • In the case of dogs, especially for some breeds, training is important by using positive reinforcement (treats, playtime, pets, verbal rewards) 
  • It is certainly a daily commitment, but the love that the animal gives back is priceless. Furthermore, the benefits of having an animal are many: having a pet decreases stress neurotransmitters (epinephrine and norepinephrine), is an anti-depressant and helps us to stay active (and as such, we reduce the chances of developing numerous cardiovascular diseases). 

Volunteering, Animal Rights and Adoptions 

For all those who are interested in helping and volunteering in the shelters, what are the things animal shelters need most? 

Dog walkers, dog groomers, the cleaning out of their boxes, doing maintenance activities on the structure, adoptions and donations! 

What can we do and who can we contact when we see an abandoned and abused animal?

Here in Croatia, if the dog has an owner/it is in a private place: ask for a local vet inspection from the vet inspector of the city. If he doesn’t do anything, contact the regional veterinary inspection office. If the office doesn’t react, you can contact the office responsible for veterinary inspections at the Ministry of Agriculture. (Useful Source: https://prijatelji-zivotinja.hr/index.en.php?id=1547). 

If the dog is in a public place:

  • Try to find out if the dog has an owner (check the collar)
  • Bring the animal to a local vet and ask for the microchip to be read
  • If the animal doesn’t have a microchip, contact a local non-profit animal welfare organisation, or the municipality (depending on the city). 

Other good things to do: 

  • Try to find out information about the animal in the neighbourhood by asking around and by posting photos on social media 
  • Provide care, water and food for the animal 
  • Try to find a temporary or permanent home for the animal  
  • Call the police (and if the news goes public the police tend to react more quickly) 

What is the law regarding keeping your dog chained permanently outside the house in Croatia? 

From this year on “Prijatelji Zivotinja” and other members of the Animal Protection Network are calling for an urgent amendment to the existing Animal Protection Act by introducing a complete ban on keeping dogs chained. There is no law in the Animal Act that which prohibits keeping dogs on a chain, only general sentences that say:

Animal Protection Act, Part 1, Article 5.16 “It is prohibited to neglect an animal in terms  of its health, housing, nutrition, and care”

Animal Protection Act, Part 1, Article 5.19 “It is prohibited to restrict the movement of animals in a way that causes them pain, suffering, injury or fear, in contravention of the provisions of  this Act” 

About Udruga Prizma 

How many members does Udruga Prizma currently have? 

52.

Are there any activities and projects you want to promote? 

We're doing a regional project called Generator Kulture which is for young people from Benkovac and the surrounding small villages. The aim is to organise several activities and events for them, for giving the opportunity to youngsters with fewer opportunities (young people who live in remote places) to do something creative in their spare time. One example is the following - this summer we're going to repeat the workshop “Kamp Ilustracija”, where the participants will focus on storytelling and the art of illustration while staying in contact with nature during the camp week.

 

If interested in doing volunteer work, visit Udruga Prizma's site and Erasmus + Program and learn more about their upcoming and current projects.

If interested in adopting and doing volunteer work in an animal shelter, CLICK HERE.

For more lifestyle news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Animal Friends Croatia Against Selling Live Seafood in Supermarkets

ZAGREB, July 4, 2020 - The Animal Friends Croatia NGO appealed to retail chains on Saturday to stop selling live seafood.

"We are talking about the biggest supermarkets in Croatia which we have asked several times to stop selling live animals because, aside from the inhumane conditions in which they are kept and which only prolong the suffering of already tortured animals, we are receiving calls from outraged, frantic customers who have decided to boycott shopping in such stores," the NGO said.

It called on retail chains and supermarkets to include live seafood in their business ethics and to show, "despite legal shortcomings", that they understand and acknowledge the need to protect animals by not allowing the sale of live ones in their stores.

"In that way, they are directly helping animals and, by rejecting any possibility that animals are kept, tortured, or killed in their stores now or in future, additionally building their company reputation."

Animal Friends Croatia is conducting the "Respect Our Sea" campaign with the Eurogroup for Animals, aimed at educating the public about the problem of breeding, keeping, selling and catching fish.

Although keeping live animals for human consumption is not explicitly regulated by Croatian law, retail chains and shops may decide whether to offer them on a daily basis or join the campaign.

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