Wednesday, 21 December 2022

Rijeka NYE Celebrations Won't Include Fireworks for Sake of Animals

December the 21st, 2022 - The City of Rijeka, known for its modern take when it comes to an array of issues, has put the welfare and health of pets and all other animals at the forefront by saying no to fireworks for this year's Rijeka NYE celebrations.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, The City of Rijeka is abandoning the classic form of celebration - New Year's fireworks, which until now were a regular part of the organised welcoming of a brand new year, reports local portal Novi list. This year, fireworks will not be part of the programme of the Rijeka NYE celebrations organised by the powers that be in that Northern Adriatic city.

As the City of Rijeka's administration has pointed out, this decision was made with the intention of protecting the health and welfare of pets and other animals, as well as the environment from the negative consequences of fireworks. There are also war veterans and other individuals who experience varying degrees of suffering because of fireworks, and all people for whom the use of pyrotechnics may have any consequences have been taken into consideration.

Rijeka's aim is for the New Year's celebration to be held in accordance with modern ecological and environmental standards, and part of the funds provided by the City of Rijeka which would have otherwise been allocated for the firework display will instead be redirected to associations across the region which care for animals.

This praiseworthy move for the Rijeka NYE celebrations will hopefully be an example to other cities and towns across the country which set off fireworks for this event, as well as for all forms of other celebrations, seeing dogs and cats sometimes terrified to the point of running away from home and getting injured or killed.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated news section.

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Pets in Croatia - Laws, Strays, Dog Beaches and Dalmatians

October the 26th, 2022 - In this edition of How to Croatia, we're going to be looking at pets in Croatia and exploring everything from animal welfare laws, vaccines, dog beaches, and adopting stray animals to Croatian dog breeds (because the list doesn't begin and end with the beloved Dalmatian).

While the City of Zagreb is dominated by well looked-after small ‘apartment dogs’ such as Lhasa Apsos, Pomeranians, Yorkshire Terriers and mongrels consisting of genetic mixes of everything from the Jack Russell to the Pug, the Dalmatian coast is unfortunately dominated by stray cats and the apparent total inability to understand why spaying and neutering one animal can prevent the suffering and disease of litter after litter of kittens who didn’t ask to be born. 

I’ll be frank, you’re going to see many stray cats wandering the streets all along the coast. Dalmatia, at least for the most part, and there are of course exceptions, still hasn’t quite cottoned onto the fact that foreign visitors typically adore cats and do not see them as ravenous pests or walking vectors of disease to be shunned away into dark corners somewhere. I’ll get into that more later as it’s something that I am passionate about as an animal lover and I don’t want this to just be me on my soapbox banging on about fleas and intestinal parasites.

Let’s start with the basics - Can I bring my pet with me into Croatia?

Speaking generally - Absolutely. Yes. There are also opportunities for your pets to have a great time while in Croatia, including swimming, trekking, or doing anything else you and your pet enjoy doing. By ‘pet’, I’m assuming dog here, as I highly doubt your cat enjoys diving off rocks into the sea, but maybe you have an outlier. Or a Bengal tiger.

One thing that does unfortunately seem to bypass some people and which is very dangerous, is bringing your pet to Croatia when it is boiling hot. Croatia can get too hot even for humans who have a choice about turning on the air conditioner, putting it on turbo mode, closing the blinds or having a nap during the particularly harsh afternoon hours. Pets don’t get that choice and the amount of people who continue walking their dogs in 30+ degree heat is infuriating to see. So, a word to the wise: If you plan on bringing your pet to Croatia with you, you’d do well to avoid the peak tourist season (that would be late June, July and August) or at least try to avoid the most popular tourist destinations. It tends to be extremely hot and very crowded here during that wildly busy summer period, and dogs won’t appreciate walkies when their paws are burned and when they succumb to heat stroke which can and does kill them. While this is true for all dogs, if your dog has spent their life in the UK, Norway or indeed anywhere else in Northern Europe, the heat will be an additional shock to their system that they won’t have a chance in hell of knowing how to cope with.

Transporting a pet to and from Croatia

The rules and regulations regarding the entry of pets to the Republic of Croatia are what you'd expect from any European Union (EU) member state. Pets must have a microchip, have a valid pet passport or authorised certificate, and this must confirm their clean bill of health, and they absolutely MUST be vaccinated against rabies.

For pets younger than three months, things are somewhat more complicated, but you shouldn’t really be travelling with an animal that young. All the aforementioned rules are valid for the non-commercial entry of animals to Croatia (under five individual animals), for low-risk countries, and are valid for dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets and some other species.

There is a bylaw which defines which border crossings are permitted for animals to enter the country, but it includes almost all major border crossings in Croatia, including ports and airports, so you shouldn't worry about that, as it is highly unlikely you'll find yourself crossing the Croatian border at any of the border crossings that aren’t included in that bylaw.

Similar rules apply for when an animal is leaving Croatia and going to a different country. Your pet must be able to be clearly identified through its microchip and be vaccinated against rabies. Please note that these are Croatia’s own rules for animals exiting the country, and it is entirely possible that any country to which you plan to bring your pet might have more stringent rules of its own in place, so if you choose to take your pet with you on your onward travels from Croatia, please make sure you know precisely what the authorities of the country you’re going to need from you in order to make sure your pet has a smooth journey and a safe arrival to their destination.

Attitudes towards pets and domestic animals in Croatia 

I’ll be frank (as I was before), there are people, particularly down in Dalmatia, who for some unknown reason cannot grasp that cats are pets which require our love and care. There are still enormous issues with spay and neuter programmes not being the absolutely obvious thing to implement, and there are sadly situations in which cruel individuals poison cats and allow them to die horrific and drawn out deaths. While this is illegal in Croatia, it is rare that the culprits are ever found or punished.

There is also an awful practice of dumping hunting hounds which are too old to keep up, injured, or aren’t fulfilling their purpose anymore. Tourists coming across confused, dehydrated and frightened hounds which have been abandoned in the middle of nowhere (often in the Dalmatian hinterland) or running in and out of traffic on busy roads isn’t an uncommon occurrence. And while litters of helpless kittens too young to be away from their mother being dumped in bins (yes, seriously) are still very much a reality which is dealt with by selfless animal rescue volunteer organisations and vets, over the past several decades, the situation has gradually improved.

There are certain cities, towns and municipalities in different areas of Croatia which now run fully or semi funded spay and neuter programmes, so the owner of the animal in question isn’t charged. Others run ‘actions’ where the owners of dogs kept outside chained up are severely fined. There are even checks for microchips on pet dogs out on the street from time to time. There are vets who will selflessly treat injured strays and many organisations and shelters which will feed, foster and adopt out strays. It would be a lie to say that Croatia has reached ‘Western standards’ of animal care, and the situation is unfortunately somewhat similar in just about all Mediterranean countries, but have things become far better on the whole? Yes.

Pets and the conditions in which they live across Croatia have gotten better. In most places in Croatia now, both dogs and cats live cushy lives as well-fed, fully vaccinated, and sometimes totally spoiled furballs.

While generations of local cats line the old stone walls, sit waiting in harbours for fishermen they have ingratiated themselves with to give them some sardines and laze around in the sun, in most places in Croatia it is against the local bylaws to let dogs roam around freely without being on a leash. This isn’t really enforced in smaller areas, and to be perfectly honest, you’re far more likely to meet a local dog who belongs to so and so who everyone knows taking himself for a quick wander and a swim before going home than you are Cujo. This is especially the case in smaller Dalmatian towns and villages. And, yes, we'll get back to the topic of Dalmatians and their origins a bit later on.

Laws regarding pets in Croatia

We've already mentioned the most important laws regarding pets in Croatia, such as the fact that they should have a microchip and they should have all of the necessary vaccinations and proof of such (for dogs, the most important one of all remains the rabies vaccine). While they are the main things to keep in mind, there are some other national laws regarding pets to consider as well. The most notable one concerns so-called ‘dangerous breeds’. This refers to dogs from the group of breeds discriminated against by many countries solely because of idiots with two legs which fall under the ‘(pit) bull terrier type’ category. Any dog lover will tell you that the idea of a dog breed being inherently ‘dangerous’ is a completely idiotic notion, but unfortunately this breed discrimination does continue.

Opinions aside, there are unfortunately some special conditions for keeping ‘(pit) bull terrier type’ breeds. This includes the provision that the dogs considered to belong to this particular breed type can only enter Croatia if they have a pedigree issued by a member of the International Canine Federation (Fédération cynologique internationale). These dogs should always be on a leash when outdoors and have a muzzle on at all times while in public.

While there are areas and bylaws which prescribe where your dog can be off the leash, you do generally need to keep your dog on a leash in more populated areas (unless it's a dog park). When it comes to taking your dog with you to a restaurant or a cafe, do ask if animals are permitted. Generally (and especially in bars and cafes) the answer will usually be an emphatic ‘Yes’, and your four-legged companion will also likely receive a bowl of water, especially in warm weather.

What about finding accommodation which accepts pets in Croatia?

First things first, don't assume that all accommodation units will be fine about accepting your pet. You do need to check and if you’re booking online through a platform such as or Airbnb, you’ll find that whether or not pets are welcome is typically clearly highlighted. On top of that, almost all campsites across Croatia are very pet-friendly. There are only a small handful that have a strict pet-free policy, so they’re very easy to avoid. If you’re going about booking something in a less common or straightforward way, make sure to ask about your dog, cat, bird, hamster, or whatever pet you have.

When it comes to actual hotels, the situation can become a little bit more complex so make sure you explicitly ask, and also let them know if your pet (particularly if the animal in question is a dog) is a large breed. Some hotels have very vague guidelines about ‘smaller pets’ which won’t be made clear unless you ask about them specifically. Although both are technically ‘smaller pets’, there’s still a rather big difference between a guinea pig and a West Highland Terrier. If the answer is no, don’t be put off. Do shop around. You’ll definitely find somewhere more than happy to accommodate your furry family member.

Things to note

There are handy websites that can help you navigate Croatian accommodation facilities and private landlords, so do look for the ones that are happy to house you and your pet: while probably not completely up-to-date, you can certainly get a feel of the number of options there are out there by visiting Povedi me/Take me.

Taking pets on public transport

More often than not, it’s very possible to take your pet on most forms of public transport, but the rules will usually be somewhat vague, not clearly defined and you and your furry (or feathered, or scaled) pal’s success might vary. A lot depends on the size of your pet, the exact time you want to travel with your pet and honestly, the mood of the driver themselves. Less than ideal, I know, but that’s the reality and it’s worth keeping in mind.

Pets on trains

Small animals which are 30 centimetres or less in height are permitted on Croatian trains as long as they spend the duration of their travel time in the safety of their pet transporters. This is also true for dogs of that size, as they can sit calmly on their owner's lap. The great news is that both of those options are usually free. Service dogs of all breeds, sizes and weights are more than welcome everywhere and also travel for free. For larger dogs, owners will often need to have their veterinary booklet with them to prove a clean bill of health, their list of completed vaccinations and proof that they’re microchipped. They will need to be kept on a short leash and will usually need to wear a muzzle (although this isn’t always checked) for the duration of their time spent aboard the train. You’ll also need to pay for their train ride. If you want to take your dog on a sleeping coach, you’ll also have to pay for all the beds in the section.

Pets on buses

For bus travel between cities in Croatia, the rules are more vague owing to the fact that there are a great many companies providing all sorts of bus services. The rules naturally differ from company to company. Because of that, it is very difficult to say with certainty that you will or won’t be allowed to board a bus with your dog or other pet. Your safest bet would be to go with the presumption that you can’t board any bus with any type of dog during the height of the summer tourist season, and during the off-season, your best chance to get a dog on the bus are if it's a smaller breed which can either sit comfortably on your knee or be in a pet transporter.

Pets on ferries

Dogs and animals of all kinds (okay, maybe not lions or crocodiles, although there was a tiger travelling on a Croatian ferry to Hvar once, don’t ask) are more than welcome on ferries, with similar conditions as on the trains: either in pet transporters (smaller dog breeds, birds, cats, guinea pigs, rats, rabbits, and what have you) or on a short leash and with muzzle (bigger dogs). Be aware that there are many larger dogs not wearing muzzles on Croatian ferries and I’ve honestly never personally seen any dog owner asked to produce one, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a muzzle on you, just in case. Often, pets may not enter certain areas on ferries, such as saloons, restaurants and cabins. That said, I’ve taken my cat, Newton, in his pet transporter on the ferry between Split and Supetar many times and nobody has batted an eyelid.

When it comes to public transport in individual cities within Croatia, such as in Zagreb, Split and Rijeka, the whole ‘pet on board’ situation also varies significantly. I know, it wouldn’t kill anyone to just have one single set of rules in place, would it? One can dream...

In Split and Rijeka, your dog or other pet is welcome on public transportation if they can fit inside a pet transporter (meaning that bigger dogs aren’t really allowed), and in the City of Zagreb, you have the option of taking your pet with you and they can board the tram or bus on a short leash (in the case of dogs) or inside their pet transporter. 

As always, it's the owner's full responsibility to make sure animals don't destroy, damage or soil the vehicle in which they’re travelling. Make sure to have water and plenty of bags and tissues with you, and if the animal in question is a dog, it might be wise to take them for a walk or an outdoor play session before getting on any type of public transport, you know, to get things moving and out where they need to be as opposed to on a vehicle’s seat.

Strays in Croatia - What should I do if I come across one?

You’re not likely to see that many stray dogs wandering the streets. Cats? Yes. Especially on the coast. While some of these free roaming felines do actually either belong to someone or are street cats who are looked after and fed by people, others are strays living very difficult lives. Only recently has there been an increased level of awareness of their poor quality of life, and many good-hearted people often get involved to provide them with medical help, spaying and neutering them, and of course - feeding them. Over more recent years, many towns, municipalities and local communities have launched various Catch, Spay and Release programmes specifically for street cats. This has resulted in 1) less cats roaming around and suffering 2) a far better quality of life for the cats which are there 3) more tolerance from locals who are perhaps not exactly cat lovers as they cannot breed so numbers don’t keep on spiralling out of control.

Animal shelters

There are many selfless volunteers running animal rights groups all over Croatia, rescuing animals from the harsh reality of life out on the streets and providing them with shelter, medical care, sterilisation and then finding them suitable homes even outside of Croatian borders. Other kind-hearted people often volunteer to give animals adopted by people in different cities or indeed outside of Croatia lifts in their cars to their new homes. Since 2017, all animal shelters have been no-kill shelters. Before that, sometimes it was difficult for decent people to even think of taking stray animals to shelters, because although they would be cared for and fed, their days there were unfortunately numbered, but thankfully that isn’t the case anymore.

Stray dogs

As I already explained, most dogs in Croatia that have owners are microchipped, so if you do happen to come across a dog in Croatia that looks like a stray (do ask around first, especially in smaller coastal areas where people’s very much loved pet dogs do often take themselves out for a wander and a quick dip in the Adriatic) your first course of action is to take the dog to the local vet.

Once there, the vet will be able to see if the dog is microchipped and scan them to get the owner’s details. They’ll then start the process of returning them to their owners. Although microchipping is mandatory for dogs in Croatia, not everyone does it, and if you come across a dog without a microchip or one that is out of date or cannot be scanned and read by the vet for some reason, there's no way to quickly find out who the dog belongs to. 

In such cases, the vet will take care of the dog while they get in contact with the local shelter in charge of caring for stray or abandoned dogs in the area. Dogs are given the necessary vaccinations, such as that against rabies, when arriving at these shelters. They’re also treated for any obvious diseases (unfortunately, they are usually not spayed or neutered at the expense of the local government unit at this moment in time) and microchipped, so they're ready for adoption. Many tourists who have either found kittens or stray dogs have taken them home with them, so if you're an animal lover, there’s a chance you could head home with a new furry pal in tow. I rescued my cat six years ago after finding him abandoned by his mother as a tiny kitten with his eyes barely open under a bush in Dubrovnik. No regrets. I absolutely recommend it!

Veterinary services

Nobody wants to think of their pet becoming unwell or injured, but it happens, especially if your cat is practising their ‘nine lives’ theory or if your dog has decided to try and make friends with a bee. The Croatian Chamber of Veterinary Medicine has a list of veterinary practices on their website, although, as with most things in Croatia, you shouldn’t count on the list being fully up to date. Google is your friend here, and a quick search of the word ‘veterinar’ (vet) or ‘veterinarska ambulanta’ (vet clinic/practice) and your location will give you the results you’re looking for, as well as reviews and opening times.

In larger veterinary practices, such as at Zagreb’s famous Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, which is part of the historic Zagreb University, you'll be able to have blood tests, ultrasounds, scans and an array of other diagnostic workups done for your pet if necessary. The prices for basic veterinary services and medicines are quite affordable in Croatia, especially when compared to Western Europe, where even pet insurance usually doesn’t get your bank account off the hook completely.

Rabies and other serious transmittable diseases in Croatia

Rabies (Lyssavirus)

Rabies is a death sentence for all those who are infected and not vaccinated with a post-exposure vaccine as soon as possible. There is no cure once symptoms begin to show. Post-exposure treatment (ironically known as PET) using a rabies vaccine with or without human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) is extremely effective in preventing rabies from developing in humans if given correctly and as quickly as possible after exposure to the virus.

Animals exposed to rabies, even if they are already vaccinated against it, require revaccination as soon as possible. As diabolical as rabies is, it is very easy to prevent.

Luckily, there is no terrestrial rabies (known as dog rabies) in Croatia. This is primarily thanks to vaccination against rabies being mandatory and good controls on animals entering the country. Contrary to popular (and mistaken) belief, that does not mean that rabies may not be present in other animal species, this is especially true of wildlife that could be reservoirs of rabies. This is particularly the case with bats, as it is all over the world. Croatia is an EU country and as such has numerous protocols in place for the prevention and control of rabies, but it does border non-EEA countries, and a case of rabies was confirmed in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2020. So, while one can never be too careful when it comes to something as dangerous as rabies, the risk of coming into contact with it in Croatia is very, very low indeed.

Dog beaches

Croatia has several dog beaches, and they are a fantastic way of bonding with your furry friend while also keeping them active and cool at the same time in the hot weather. Most dogs adore playing in water and swimming, and the calm Adriatic waves (if you can even call them that, coming from the UK and watching the North Sea in action, I struggle) are the perfect and safe watery playground for dogs of all abilities. There is even a dog beach bar up in Kvarner! 

The concept of dog beaches has become a hot topic, as it highlights the need people have to spend time with their dogs having fun on the beach, and that while to some they’re ‘just’ animals, for the vast majority of people - they’re family members and deserve to be treated as such. You can also take your cat of course, although I highly doubt they’d be appreciative of the idea.

Most dog beaches are located further north up the coast, and in Kvaner and on the gorgeous Istrian peninsula there are several of them. Here’s a list of just some of them:

Punta Kolova (Opatija)

Zaton Holiday Resort (close to Zadar)

Cvitačka beach (Makarska)

Šimuni beach (Pag)

Portić and Premantura beaches (Istria)

Zaraće beach (Hvar)

Podvorska beach (Crikvenica)

Privlaka’s dog friendly beach (near Zadar)

Foša beach (Zadar)

Stara škola (Šibenik)

Supetar’s plaža za pse (dog beach) - Brač

Brajdica, Mikulova, Igralište - Kostrena, Rijeka

Duilovo beach (Split)

Kašjuni beach (Split)

Kaštela beach (near Trogir)

Vartalac beach (Vis)

Danče beach (Dubrovnik)

Bi Dog beach (Fažana)

Hidrobaza beach (Štinjan near Pula)

Bol’s plaža za pse (dog beach) - Brač

These are just some of the main dog-friendly beaches along the Croatian coast and on the islands. It’s worth noting that all of the beaches in Slano near Dubrovnik are dog-friendly, and all campsites in Poreč have areas of the beaches where dogs are permitted. The Marina Frapa resort in Rogoznica also has part of their beach where dogs are allowed. 

As I mentioned, there is even a dog beach bar up in Kvarner, a region known for its progressive stances on the whole. To be honest, this particular beach is easily the most dog-friendly beach in all of Croatia and possibly even in all of Europe - Podvorska beach. Located in Crikvenica, this beach has been designed specifically for people with dogs, with impressive infrastructure created and installed just for our canine friends. There’s even a dog-friendly bar where your dog can get an ice-cream or a beer. No, really. Even the New York Post was impressed by it. They also now have a second location on the island of Rab in Northern Dalmatia.

Dalmatians do actually come from Dalmatia

As ridiculous as that sounds, as the name should give that away and it would appear obvious, many people don’t actually realise this. These popular spotted, clownish dogs which became famous for almost becoming Cruella DeVil’s coat are Croatian. While Pongo might be the most well-known Dalmatian of all, their history dates back a very long time, and there is an altar painting located in Veli Lošinj depicting what looks exactly like the Dalmatian dog we know and love today from back in the early seventeenth century. The first mention of the Dalmatian’s name was in the early eighteenth century in the continental town of Đakovo, far from the Dalmatian coast, where in the archives of the Archdiocese of Đakovo, Canis Dalmaticus is mentioned.

Several other, lesser-known breeds also originate from Croatia, including the Posavac (pronounced Posavatz) hound, a hunting dog from the Posavina region, the Istrian shorthaired and coarse/wire-haired hounds, the Croatian sheepdog (or shepherd dog), which is jet black with a course, curly coat and has reportedly not changed at all since the fourteenth century, and, the brave, mighty mountain dog - the Tornjak.

One now sadly extinct breed of dog, the Old Croatian Sighthound (sometimes called the Old Bosnian Sighthound), also originated from the territories of modern day Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Having allegedly descended from sighthounds bred by the Celts, this hound closely resembled the greyhound-like hunting dogs depicted on coins from the fifth century BC.

For more on How to Croatia, make sure to keep up with our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 9 October 2022

Makarska Stray Cats Get Houses, Sterilisation and Care Programme

October the 9th, 2022 - Croatia, particularly down on the coast and in Dalmatia, is full of stray cats. For some, these furry residents of the streets are pests and an unfortunate number of these cats die premature and preventable deaths. For others, they're part of the charm. Makarska stray cats now have five little houses provided for them by the city administration to live and seek shelter in.

The Croatian cat problem is a pressing one. Many locals see them as pests, but visitors tend to feel the opposite, sometimes even adopting a stray kitten and taking them home with them. Thankfully, more and more awareness about the plight of these cats has come to light, and the level of empathy among locals has been on the increase, and Makarska stray cats now have their own carefully placed little houses to call their own.

As Morski writes, last week saw the marking of World Animal Protection Day, and in close cooperation with the Sapa od srca Association and the local communal company, the City of Makarska set up five little houses to act as shelters and homes for Makarska stray cats. A total of fifteen individual cats on Sv. Petra and in Vladimir Nazor Street will now have a safe shelter from the rain and cold in the coming autumn days, as well as from the scorching heat during the summer months.

With this, Makarska has become one of the first cities in all of the Republic of Croatia to take charge and proper care for feral and stray cats in this way, and the project will be continued and expanded if it is deemed necessary. In addition to this praiseworthy and selfless move, in order to reduce the uncontrolled reproduction of Makarska stray cats and prevent the development of diseases in both humans and these animals, the City of Makarska will continue with their planned sterilisation of local cats through a catch, spay and release programme.

The Makarska city budget provides funds for the sterilisation of 100 Makarska stray cats, and this is only a small part of the amount of cash that is now being aimed at properly caring for the welfare of the city's local animals.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 16 September 2022

Many Polish Tourists Return Home with Rescued Croatian Street Cats

September the 16th, 2022 - Many Polish visitors to this country's coastline are heading home not with just a magnet, keyring or 'I Love Croatia' shirt, but with Croatian street cats they have adopted and decided to give forever homes to.

As Morski writes, it seems that while some find it impossible to resist purchasing a 'Hrvatska' mug that will struggle to survive the dishwasher, others can't get enough of the cats. Many people can't ignore a hungry street cat's sad eyes, so they return home with transporters containing cats from Dalmatia and Istria. This is especially the case with Polish tourists.

Polish national Katarzyna is one such cat foster parent. She contacted the Facebook group Chorwacja (Croatia) and asked for advice from other Poles who had come to Croatia during summer. Although many in that group exchange advice and experiences about different cities, towns and localities that should be visited, this girl asked a question about transporting rescued Croatian street cats. During the two weeks she spent here, one fluffy, four-legged and wide-eyed cat kept her company, and Katazyna decided she couldn't leave her, and that they'd return home to Poland together.

On Facebook, she received about 200 comments with instructions from other Polish nationals, who have experience with transporting their own or "new" animals they have acquired. In the European Union, you can travel with your pets without any particular difficulties. It's usually enough that the animal has a passport, which means that a veterinarian has microchipped the animal. Others shared their experiences.

''I was driving home with three little kittens. The vet gave us passports, he couldn't microchip them because they were too small, and it was too early for any vaccines. I just treated them against fleas and other parasites and that was it. Nobody checked them at the border anyway,'' wrote Kamila.

However, there are also some people who faced stricter controls when arriving at the border.

''They checked the dog's passport when we entered Croatia and again when we left it. On the way back, our dog barked at the policeman and he found it funny,'' Anna wrote.

In addition to a series of advice and support, Katazyna also heard a series of conflicting opinions. While some think that Croatian street cats are happy and at home where they are, which veterinarians and animal lovers claim is absolutely not the case, others agree that they need our help and to be given proper treatment, food and homes.

Polish society is slowly but surely changing. More and more people support shelters for abandoned animals and get their pets from there. They often organise various actions and pay large sums of money to help shelters and animals, and many are pet owners and animal lovers. Moreover, the OLX website, which is a bit like the Polish version of Croatia's much loved Njuskalo, organises a campaign to feed animals living in shelters. They place pictures of the dogs and cats instead of some items for sale, and every day one click enables the delivery of food for certain animals, writes Jutarnji list.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Construction of Quality Dubrovnik Animal Shelter 1 Step Closer to Reality

May the 24th, 2022 - The future Dubrovnik animal shelter, which is desperately needed and which would, at least theoretically, become one of the most modern in all of Europe, is one step closer to having boots put on the ground.

As Morski writes, the e-conference in the regular procedure for issuing a construction permit for the would-be new Dubrovnik animal shelter has now been completed, during which there were no objections from the invited public bodies, thus successfully completing this necessary step.

After the expiration of the legal deadline in which the parties to the proceedings are heard, a building permit will be issued, which will fulfill the last precondition for the construction of the Dubrovnik animal shelter. The move will come as an extremely welcome move following Sandra Sambrailo and company's tireless and selfless work at the current makeshift Zarkovica animal shelter, for which very little support has ever been provided from Croatia's extremely rich southernmost city.

For the realisation of the project of the Dubrovnik city shelter for animals, the adoption of the Amendments to the Spatial Plan of the City of Dubrovnik previously included a new location of the future city shelter, which removed a basic but problematic administrative barrier. The project has now been improved in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability with the completing of the project documentation, which has been fully prepared in accordance with reference regulations, laws and the guidelines of international animal protection associations.

The up and coming Dubrovnik animal shelter will receive electricity from solar energy, which, they say, will significantly contribute when applying for the project's financing with European Union (EU) funds.

The future complex will be located in the Grabovica area, spanning an area of ​​12,000 square metres, and it will be one of the largest facilities of its kind in Europe managed by a local government unit. It will have a maximum accommodation capacity for 352 animals in a total of 12 pavilions. It will consist of a central building with facilities for staff, visitors and employees, a veterinary/medical service area and other service facilities, and a pavilion area with associated open spaces for the accommodation and recreation of resident animals.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

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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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!



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: 

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? 


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, 27 February 2021

Petition Launched to Make Keeping Croatian Dogs on a Chain Illegal

February the 27th, 2021 - Dogs are man's best friend, and while the vast majority of people love these animals and treat them with the respect they deserve, some still see them as a mere means o an end and mistreat them, ignoring their needs and even outwardly abusing them. Croatian dogs and indeed cats often fail in getting the respect they deserve when it comes to the proper implementation of both national and European animal welfare laws, but could a difference soon be made?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Friends of Animals Association reported on Friday that a petition has been launched for a legal ban on keeping Croatian dogs on leashes/chains, which they have been fighting for since way back in 2005, stressing that animals should be promptly rescued from a leash that restricts their movement to just a few metres.

"The Friends of Animals Association, the Friends of the Cakovec Shelter, the Pobjeda (Victory) Association and other members of the Animal Protection Network are calling for an urgent amendment to the existing Animal Protection Act of the Republic of Croatia via the introduction of a total ban on keeping Croatian dogs ties up on a leash," the statement said.

''We believe that unless you can ensure the proper conditions for keeping a dog, then you shouldn't keep dogs at all. Keeping dogs on leashes is shameful and absolutely unacceptable,'' said the aforementioned Croatian animal protection associations.

The three associations, with the support of all associations from the Animal Welfare Network, want a change that would save thousands of animals, particularly Croatian dogs, which are currently "imprisoned" on chains. The move would also protect those animals who haven't even been born yet from ever experiencing such a fate.

"We always say how dogs are a man's best friends, and we condemn them to slavery, to life within a radius of a few metres," the associations warned bluntly.

The petition can be signed by following this link.

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