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Ukraine introduces increased penalties for cruelty to animals

Author : Iryna Shostak

Source : 112 Ukraine

Verkhovna Rada adopted a law introducing EU standards in Ukraine concerning the humane treatment of animals. After the president signs the initiative, the life of animals would be changed forever, the authors of the initiative believe. However, experts and zoo activists themselves emphasize: in order for Ukrainian animals to feel safe, not only theoretical but also practical shifts are needed
15:28, 19 July 2021

animal abuse
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What will change the new law

If you google the phrase "on the fact of cruelty to animals", you can get approximately 875,000 answers, of which no more than 20 indicate the opening of criminal proceedings. For example, in Yahotyn, Sumy, Berdyansk, Kyiv, the police and the public managed to draw attention to the problems of animals and remind Ukrainians that animals also have rights.

Having ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Domestic Animals, Ukraine has not yet fully brought its legislation in line with European requirements. Moreover, a number of articles are not even coordinated with each other and represent only a formality.

The initiative defines a clearer position of humane attitude, introducing concepts such as "mutilation of animals", "bodily harm to animals." What is prohibited:

  • donating pets as prizes, awards, or prizes;
  • leave animals in the car at ambient temperatures above + 20ºC and less than + 5ºC;
  • promote cruelty to animals.

Most importantly, the law revives the institution of confiscation. Today, if the fact of ill-treatment is recorded, the police draw up a protocol, but leave the animal in the hands of the owner.

"The termination of property rights, in accordance with Article 41 of the Constitution, can only take place by a court decision, and until the court's decision this animal remains with the person regarding whom there are doubts about the humane treatment of the animal," chairman of Green Power Andrian Bailo notes.

Action ‘Protect the animals!’ in Kyiv on October 4, 2020
112 Agency

If the police decide that it is dangerous for the animal to stay with the owner, under the record in the protocol, it can be taken to a shelter, zoo or for overexposure pending a court decision.

It is suggested to walk the animal only in a muzzle and on a leash, as well as in a collar with identifying marks. However, the law does not provide for punishment for failure to comply with this provision.

The innovations of the law concern all types of animals identified by Ukrainian legislation: not only domestic animals but also homeless, agricultural and wild ones.

Related: Contentious hunt for Covid’s origin points to China animal trade

Homeless animals

The law prohibits:

  • euthanasia as a method of regulating the number of homeless animals;

"Regulation of the number of stray animals should be carried out by the method of biosterilization, followed by vaccination, identification, clipping, and placement in shelters, transfer to public organizations or return to their habitat. We often poison and kill animals, and an important point of the bill is precisely the prohibition of killing animals for regulation That is, a ban on mass euthanasia. This issue is especially acute in some cities," said Olesia Lischyshina, a representative of the Four Paws International charitable foundation, director of Four Paws - Ukraine LLC.

Open source

However, not all animal rights activists are fully convinced of the correct wording of the prohibition. In particular, according to Andriana Bailo, whoever wants to inflict suffering on an animal will always find a way.

"The law prohibits euthanasia, but there is such an abuse as the shooting of dogs and cats by hunters, and in the district or regional center no one bothers anyone to catch and take the animal into the forest and shoot it," says Bylo.

The animal rights activist also adds that in order for such people to have no choice, animal protection initiatives should be adopted in parallel: “Bill No. 2232 (against baiting) prohibits the shooting of dogs and cats, so they should be adopted in parallel. in a hurry." By the way, this initiative was taken to the hall of the Verkhovna Rada, but the MPs did not have time to consider it.

Related: WHO: Covid-19 transmission from bats to humans through another animals - most likely scenario

  • beat, kill, poison, strangle and maim stray animals, kill by drowning, use electric current;
  • walled up animals in basements;

According to the director of LLC "Four paws-Ukraine" Olesia Lischyshina, this norm is a good setting for condominiums and housing offices, which close the basements of houses where street cats live.

But animal rights activist Andriana Bailo calls the ban controversial because according to its wording there is also a question: "People often abuse, driving animals out into the street and bricking up basements. That is, what will be forbidden to them to close access to the basement?" According to Andriana, a clearer ban should have been written - a ban on blocking access to basements.

Farm animals

"Finally, legislative changes have begun to concern the category of the most defenseless, powerless animals, the abuse of which occurs behind high fences," says lawyer Svitlana Rudenko, a representative of the Open Cages Ukraine NGO.

Investigation of cruelty to farm animals in Ukraine today has no prospects. After all, production is often focused on speed, which explains certain negligence in relation to farm animals. However, people are gradually becoming aware of the fact that even if animals are raised for products that will be consumed by humans, this does not mean that they can be hurt, maimed, and killed in the most painful way.

Legislative changes that will specifically apply to farm animals:

  • it is prohibited to kill animals until they are completely unconscious;

“In large enterprises, where speed is everything, they ignore any suffering of the animal that goes beyond the understanding of human nature. A person who has never worked in a slaughterhouse will not be able to understand how to treat an animal in this way. But money and speed justify, unfortunately, everything," Rudenko notes.

  • it is forbidden to carry out painful procedures without the use of painkillers;

For example, the largest group of farm animals in Ukraine are pigs and chickens. Any "procedures" with these animals are performed without anesthesia, in particular the evisceration of chickens or trimming of tails and castration of male pigs.

Related: Severe fires in northeastern Ukraine, fields engulfed in flames, animals die

"Moreover, I emphasize that pigs that live in the wild or on farms with a good level of well-being do not need to trim their tail, because other individuals do not touch it. But when a pig, which has a very developed digging instinct, lives its entire life, especially if the pigs are kept in an easel way, on a concrete floor in a small cage (it is good if it is a squad), cannot entertain itself in any way, and therefore the only thing that remains is to eat the tails of their relatives, for which they are removed and brutally removed," says Rudenko.

  • it is prohibited to use tools and methods in working with animals, which obviously lead to their injury and suffering;
  • it is prohibited to use sick, wounded, weak, pregnant animals in the last third of pregnancy or undernourished animals for work;
  • it is prohibited to keep animals in the premises where they are slaughtered or where the carcasses of the slaughtered animal are kept.

According to the new standards, the conditions for the use of animals in agriculture must correspond to their physiological, species, and individual characteristics, as well as satisfy their natural needs for food, water, sleep, movement, and natural activity.

In particular, conditions in premises for keeping animals or on areas for walking, in particular lighting, temperature, humidity, air circulation, ventilation, gas concentration and noise level, and the like, must correspond to their physiological and specific needs in the volumes determined by legislation.

Related: Broken jaws, bitten off ears, crippled lives: Stories that animals can't tell you

Wild animals

It is prohibited:

  • photographing with wild animals in settlements;

keeping wild animals in catering establishments, nightclubs, hotels, health centers, and other public places not suitable for showing wild animals, as well as in apartments, private houses, in backyards, garden plots (bears, lions, tigers, wild boars, crocodiles, wolves, large and venomous snakes, birds of prey and other animals that pose a threat to humans, or animal species listed in the Red Book and List II of the Berne Convention (Convention on the Protection of Wild Flora and Fauna).

"There is really a lot of abuse, animals can be safely kept in terrible conditions. But the question is, has it been decided where these animals will be placed after confiscation? There is no rehabilitation center today, especially since we do not know about the number of such animals," Andrian Bailo states

animal hunting training
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The animal rights activist notes that in order to successfully prohibit something, it is worth understanding the scale of the case, how many of these animals are actually kept at home.

Also, the draft law proposes to prohibit all types of logging along the perimeter of protected areas in forests around habitats and reproduction of rare and endangered species of fauna and flora within a radius of 500 m.

"Due to such large-scale logging (Ukraine is the main importer of timber to Europe, and also imports to China), every 5th animal and every 8th plant listed in the Red Book of Ukraine suffers from this felling. For example, black stork. He lives in the forest, and if he built a nest, he will fly into it for the first, second, third time. If the forest is cut down there, the bird will leave the house," Volodymyr Boreiko, director of the NGO Kyiv ecological and cultural center, states.

But will the law of animal life actually change for the better?

Related: Animal cruelty in Ukraine: Facts, stats, legislation

Police need to learn

In order for the bill to really work in practice, we need control from the side of law enforcement agencies.

"The police almost do not react to citizens' appeals. If citizens, volunteers still manage to call the patrol police to the scene of the crime, then the call is almost always simply not registered or handed over to the investigator," the head of the Zaporizhska animal protection league "Inna Pozdnyakova.

A similar state of affairs is confirmed by an activist of the Ecological Platform community, emphasizing that without publicity and active actions of animal rights activists, the police rarely take up cases of cruelty to animals:

“I can say from my own experience that the police did not really react to such cases. They rescued animals either on their own or through publicity on the Internet. Even in the latter case, when they filmed porn and killed animals, it helped only that the activists spread the news via the Internet. Of course, only after that did the police appear."

This is a recent high-profile case that caused a resonance in social networks. The main person involved is a woman living near Zaporizhzhia. The grief businessman organized groups where she leaked animal abuse, as well as photos and videos in which she was naked. The woman sold access to the groups for 50 euros.

Since the police did not respond to the citizens' statements for a long time, the residents organized lynching - they burned her car and house. A similar situation happened in Zaporizhzhia, where a man who hanged his own dog on the balcony was "awarded" to lynching.

They did not wait for help from law enforcement officers in the private volunteer House of Adoption "Kind Hands", where 4 dogs were poisoned for several nights.

“We managed to save one dog in the clinic. The patrol came to call the hostess of the House of Adoption but did not issue the registration card, we found out its number using the hotline. But if we ourselves make an examination and bring the conclusions of the examination to the police station, then it is possible that they will do something," Inna Pozdnyakova tells about her experience of cooperation with the police.

Related: What does Ukraine's new draft law on animal rights suggest?

The fact that the police do not always want to get involved in cases involving animals is confirmed by the words of the lawyer Svetlana Rudenko. She draws attention to the fact that in cases under Art. 89 Code of Administrative Offences law enforcement officers often collect explanations, and then say that the district police officer will consider the case:

"They do not want to resolve this case on the spot, and in 90% of cases, this means that if you are not interested in the case, then such a protocol or such a resolution on bringing to justice will not be issued at all. If we are talking about Article 299 of the Criminal Code, then in this case, the statements are not immediately entered into the ERDR (Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations, - ed.), the materials can also be transferred to the district police officer, and during this time important evidence is lost / not collected."

According to statistics from the Office of the Attorney General, in 2019, only 406 criminal cases were registered (208 cases were closed, about 190 cases were registered, in 31 cases suspicion was filed) and only 28 of them were sent to the court with an indictment. How many of them will be successful? A tiny fraction, after all, the court may pass an acquittal or terminate the proceedings due to the lack of corpus delicti. Experience shows that at the scene of the incident, the police are often not so attentive to the necessary evidence, and without them, it is almost impossible to complete the case. The circle is complete.

That is why it is necessary for law enforcement agencies to comply with the Instructions for organizing responses to statements and messages about criminal, administrative offenses or events and prompt information in the bodies (divisions) of the National Police of Ukraine. Police officers need to explain the basics of what they have to work with, down to the meaning of the term "cruelty" to animals.

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