Photo: U.S. Air Force photo Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum licence by CC.

Beyond the law: animal euthanasia in Kosovo

Kosovo activists and veterinarians disregard the flawed legal framework on animal euthanasia to spare suffering animals that cannot be healed.

Although euthanasia, the controlled and painless killing of animals to avoid suffering in cases of a terminal illness, is the only lawful method of putting down animals in Kosovo, the legal framework fails to specify the chemical solutions needed for the procedure.

If there is ever the necessity to euthanize an animal in Kosovo, it cannot be legally  performed because the Food and Veterinary Agency of Kosovo, AUV, has not licensed any solutions for carrying out this process in Kosovo.

The law permits the practice of euthanasia but lacks a definition on how and with what tools to implement it. This gap has left caretakers at a dead end.

Often, this forces veterinarians and animal rights activists in Kosovo to disregard the incomplete law in order to mitigate the suffering of animals that cannot be healed.

Except for special laws on hunting or in the case of an emergency, Kosovo bans the killing of animals in any way except for euthanasia, even in cases of infectious disease or other reasons.

The administrative directive for fighting infectious-zoonotic diseases or rabies bans the killing of stray animals with firearms. In the past, stray dogs were put down for becoming a public hazard during winter, and animal rights activists have protested the inhumane killing of strays. But the combination of these legal limitations and the deficiency of the law poses a challenge when considering the growth in population of stray dogs in Kosovo, although there are no official figures as of yet.

Municipalities say that they have dealt with this problem through the “Collect, Neuter, Vaccinate, and Return” method, CNVR. However, for high risk cases and diseases like rabies, euthanasia is also practiced.

Veterinarian Arben Sinani, the head of a veterinary clinic in Kamenica, explained that euthanasia is administered in his clinic through a solution called T-61.  According to Sinani, this solution is combined with other chemicals to avoid animal suffering.

“I think that when used with anesthetics, the T-61 solution poses no problem to the animal and relieves it from any suffering,” Sinani said, without explaining whether the solution is licenced or not.

According to multiple veterinarians we talked to, euthanasia is practiced in Kosovo — with illegally imported solutions.

Lamir Thaci, public relations officer of the Food and Veterinary Agency, said that the institution has not issued any licenses for solutions that can be used for euthanasia.

“The AUV Sector of Medicinal Veterinary Products has not yet registered any request to import substances necessary for euthanasia and has not issued any license or certificate of substances for euthanasia,” Thaci said.

Although AUV has not licensed the proper medications, it is drafting a regulation which stipulates that euthanasia needs to be carried out on every dog that spends more than 30 days in a shelter without adoption.

Bardh Salihu, an animal rights activist from Kosovo who focuses on stray dogs, said that the current legal framework has been done carelessly and does not reflect the needs and reality in the field.

“These laws were copied somewhere but they are not being implemented. Here [in Kosovo] euthanasia is practiced, I sent some dogs to be put down myself,” Salihu said.

He added that he was not aware that he was breaking a law by sending a dog to be put down, and that this problem needs to be addressed as soon as possible to fill the legal gaps.

Furthermore, Salihu stressed that he is willing to break the law once again if it is necessary to save dogs from suffering.

“Apparently, in the short term, we are forced to break the law, we did not know that. Will I as an activist send other dogs to be put down when it is necessary? I believe so, because it is obviously the most humane way to do it and it is done throughout the whole world.”

09/12/2016 - 14:37

09 December 2016 - 14:37

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.