Increased penalties for animal abuse in Croatia: abandonment now a crime

Increased penalties for animal abuse in Croatia: abandonment now a crime

17 April 2024
Prijatelji životinja
Over 10,000 animals are abandoned each year in Croatia. It’s not only a problem for domestic animals like dogs and cats, but also farmed animals. An amendment of the country’s Penal Code has now made abandoning an animal a criminal offence punishable by up to 2 years in prison, as well as increasing penalties for causing unnecessary pain or suffering, killing or abusing animals.

Amendments to the Croatian Penal Code came into effect on 2 April, bringing with them the long-awaited positive changes in animal protection.

Under the new legislation, individuals who abandon any animal they are responsible for will face imprisonment for up to one year. If the abandonment results in the death of an animal or involves the abandonment of multiple animals, the perpetrator could be sentenced to up to two years in prison. 

This significant victory for animal welfare is the culmination of extensive efforts by our member organisation Animal Friends Croatia, which initiated a petition in 2021 urging for animal abandonment to be treated as a criminal offence. Notably, 80% of the population supported this campaign.

Animal abandonment can now be directly reported to the police or municipal prosecutor's office, rather than to veterinary inspectors. This streamlined process aims to expedite responses and facilitate the prosecution of offenders. It also serves as a deterrent against animal abandonment, as individuals are now aware that they risk imprisonment and may take the long-term care of animals into consideration before acquiring one. 

The penalties for causing unnecessary pain or suffering to animals, and for killing or severely abusing animals, have been increased from a maximum of one year to two years. In cases where these offences are committed for financial gain, perpetrators may now face imprisonment for up to three years instead of two.

Another new measure allows courts to impose restrictions on individuals who have committed animal-related offences if there is a risk of reoffending; a ban on owning or acquiring animals for a period of one to five years.

Animal Friends Croatia is now urging citizens with information about law violations to promptly report any instances of animal abandonment and abuse to the police.