We all already know that the problem of stray dogs is unfortunately still present throughout BiH.
In the regions where the Dogs Trust programs have been implemented over the past 8 years, especially the program of mass neutering of abandoned dogs, a large number of new litters have been prevented from ending up on the streets.
However, despite the call to take advantage of the voluntary support and excellent results of the Dogs Trust program, local authorities are the only ones who can ensure the implementation of legal measures for systemic and humane problem solving, unfortunately they have not shown sufficient initiative everywhere. Because of this, this problem is still present, and is returning in parts of the country where the number of dogs through the Dogs Trust neutering campaigns has previously been significantly reduced.
Any dog that is not under the supervision of a responsible owner can potentially pose a risk to humans, especially if it is sick, infected or has unwanted behavior.
Dogs do not belong on the street, but the reason they are there now is precisely the irresponsibility of people. There is no doubt that living without human care and supervision is the biggest risk for the dogs themselves.
This noble animal, which needs control, and which longs for the care of man, is now, not through its own fault, much less by a choice for which it is not even capable, forced to fight for its bare life on its own. Cruel street living conditions can affect the health and behavior of these dogs. Yet we are often surprised at how many of them actually manage intelligently, and still openly show affection for man.
That is why humanity is not only a legal imperative, but also a social responsibility.
Is there a way to solve this long-standing problem permanently?
The way certainly exists, but not overnight, because the problem didn’t even arise overnight. A systematic approach and a strong, responsible initiative of the competent government institutions are necessary, as well as their consistency in the systematic implementation of humane, legal measures.
The only way to solve the problem efficiently, humanely, and so that it does not happen again is through the establishment and consistent implementation of a legal system for the management of the dog population.
What does this System mean?
Many aspects are related to the sustainable solution of this problem, but it is crucial to establish and consistently implement the following measures: Supervision of competent inspections and institutions Supervision of dog owners and punishment of any irresponsibility, especially abandonment, negligence and inhumanity will prevent further problems. Abandonment of dogs is the main cause of the problem of stray dogs, which then continues to
escalate through uncontrolled reproduction. The main cause of changes in the behavior of dogs is an inadequate attitude towards them. That is why incidents with owner dogs that do not have adequate care are much more frequent than those with dogs on the street.
- Registered, legal shelter of the transitional type
The care and adoption of dogs, which experts estimate will easily and without much stress get used to living in a confined space, and thus at home, is best organized through accommodation in a humane, legally registered shelter of a transitional nature. We note that mass shelters are not a good idea, because they quickly become overcrowded, inhumane, and fatal for dogs, and
for the people who finance and run them, a financial nightmare. For some abandoned dogs who are already accustomed to living in the community, and often have people feed them, changing the environment, even a well-intentioned one, can be risky. Switching to a confined space for such dogs that are accustomed to free movement can cause much more stress than they can handle, which can result in behavioral changes and illness. This is one of the reasons why it is recommended that such dogs, if healthy, socialized, neutered, and vaccinated, temporarily stay in the community, and live their relatively short life in the habitat to which they are accustomed.
Mass neutering, vaccination and marking of dogs that are already on the street
Mass neutering of dogs that are already on the street, along with the adoption of those dogs that are estimated to be easily accustomed to life in the home, prevents new litters that no one can take care of and that can quickly become a source of new litters. With supervision, this healthy, socialized population that temporarily has to live in a community can actually benefit because it protects "its territory" from other, unknown, possibly unsocialized and infected, abandoned dogs that may come from other regions in search of food. Which legislation provides the framework for this system in BiH? The Law on the Protection and Welfare of Animals in BiH is a progressive legislation that was adopted in 2009, but its implementation is unfortunately insufficient, inconsistent and in some places none at all in most parts of the country. This state law is the most relevant, which means that all local regulations and bylaws must be harmonized and must not be in conflict with it. Unfortunately, in some regions there are still bylaws, ordinances and even laws at lower levels that conflict with this Law in key provisions, and even in violation of the legal prohibition of unnecessary destruction of healthy and socialized dogs.
You can find the entire law following the link:
You can send additional information on the interpretation of the Law to the umbrella veterinary organization in BiH, the Veterinary Office.
Who is responsible for the implementation of the state law?
The responsibility for organizing the consistent implementation of the Law lies with local authorities. Only they have the resources and capacity, and only they are obliged to ensure the establishment and consistent implementation of the legal system. Local authorities can, of course, implement the Law separately, but it is certainly easier and more efficient in any way if they unite in it, especially if it is about the municipalities of one city or geographically connected regions.
What other stakeholders are involved?
Registered local NGOs and other groups of citizens can cooperate with their local authorities, and demand transparency and consistency in the implementation of the Law from government representatives.
Foreign organizations such as the Dogs Trust have no legal obligation but help voluntarily and in accordance with their available resources, goals, and mission. In order for this support to be most effective, it is organized through programs that are implemented following strict rules and procedures and focused on systemic assistance. The work of local authorities who have the
understanding and initiative to take advantage of this support can be much easier and, thanks to this support funded by the Dogs Trust, can make budget savings that can be channeled to other programs needed by the community. After many years of support that has helped reduce the suffering of dogs, but also the risk to the community, the Dogs Trust in BiH is in the process of defining a new approach through which it will provide support primarily to regions whose local authorities are proactive and determined to ensure that the Law is implemented continuously, consistently, humanely, and systematically.