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How to stop commercialised animal abuse in Ukraine?

Author : Iryna Shostak

Ukraine's legislation on using animals in commercial purposes is self-contradictive
13:20, 8 August 2019

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Business on animals continues to flourish in Ukraine. Issues with its more global manifestations, such as dolphinariums or contact zoos, should be decided at the state level, but what about entrepreneurs whose main income is the provision of photography and animal riding for entertainment?

A striking incident happened two years ago - a horse fell out of exhaustion on one of the streets in Odesa (southern Ukraine), who drove a carriage with tourists all day without a rest. Then passers-by immediately rushed to reanimate him, called a veterinarian, as well as a fire truck with water to cool the animal. The locals also called the police to record the cruel treatment of the animal, but eyewitnesses say that they did not draw up a protocol against the owners of the tourist carriage.

Another case, which has obvious signs of exhaustion or fatigue, but with an obvious violation of the natural habitat of animals, is about exploiting monkeys in the center of the capital.

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Related: Animal abuse: Man wounds dog with pitchfork

Legislative regulation of the problem

In Ukraine, issues of the treatment of animals, including their use for doing business, are regulated by a number of regulatory legal acts: Laws of Ukraine "On the Protection of Animals from Cruelty", "On the Animal World", "On Veterinary Medicine", and "On the Provision of Sanitary and the epidemic well-being of the population ", Order of the Ministry of Environmental Protection dated September 30, 2010 No. 429, "On approval of the Procedure for keeping and breeding wild animals in captive or semi-free conditions" and others.

These standards clearly spell out the possible cases of the legitimate use of animals in commercial activities, as well as information on all the necessary documentation for this business.

Related: Thousands of people and eight demands - March for animal rights held in Kyiv

According to Anna Tereshko, representative of Animal Justice Ukraine, the person who carries out such economic activities should have the following documents:

identity document;

documents confirming the person’s right to engage in economic activity;

If the person is a self-employed individual, she or he should have a corresponding certificate (often a certificate of registration by a single taxpayer);

documents confirming the ownership of the animal; the ownership of the animal is acquired after registration, or if there are documents confirming the fact of ownership of the animal (for example, a contract of sale).

permission for keeping wild animals in captivity, as well as permission for special use of certain types of animals issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources;

veterinary documents for an animal (veterinary sanitary passport);

documents that relate to the registration and identification of certain types of animals.

Related: Animal rights activists demand to save 300 sheep from slaughter

Legislative discrepancies

The procedure for issuing a set of permits and issuing a veterinary passport of an animal can take from several months to six months. However, even the most stubborn ones will not be able to prove the legitimacy of conducting such a business, because there are several contradictions in the laws themselves that made this impossible.

For example, a permit for special use of wild animals issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources is mandatory for the use of animals for commercial purposes. And this is a real challenge, since there is Order No. 37/68 of 04/09/96, “On approval of the Instructions on the procedure for paying payments for the special use of wild animals,” but Order No. 115 of 05/26/99, “On approval of the Rules for Extradition permits for the special use of wild animals and other objects of the animal kingdom attributed to natural resources of national importance” was canceled.

“Therefore, even if there are other documents, this document will not be available, because the Ministry does not issue such a permit,” Anna Tereshko notes.

However, animal rights activists and activists should not immediately sue the representatives of such a business, referring to their lack of permission for the special use of wild animals, because, according to Kateryna Soroka, co-founder of NGO United Planet, those entrepreneurs who received such permission before it was canceled.

Related: Training hunting center with wild animals found near Lviv

Another problem is the incompetence of the state control bodies. Indeed, according to lawyer Olga Kolesnyk, according to the Law of Ukraine "On the National Police," the police must not only take measures to violate the norms of the law "On the Protection of Animals from Cruel Treatment", but also conduct some preventive activities, preventing this from happening. Moreover, according to the Regulation on the State Ecological Inspectorate of Ukraine, the State Environmental Inspectorate has the right to involve law enforcement officers in the implementation of state supervision (control) measures to fulfill its tasks, on issues within its competence. But, given the fact that the police are often incompetent in matters of whether it is a wild animal or not, and also if there are no obvious signs of abuse.

Monitoring of compliance with the legal rights

In matters of animals, State Environmental Inspectorate (wild animals) and the State Food and Consumer Service (domestic animals) would be involved. They need to write requests for unscheduled inspections, demanding to check the availability of veterinary documents, documents on the right of ownership, as well as the conditions for keeping animals.

Moreover, such street businessmen often use the formalism of the norm to prevent cruelty to animals, as well as the inaction of regulatory authorities, noting that if there are no visible signs of abuse, the animal does not suffer.

Related: Ukraine's Parliament to consider punishment for animal abuse

"The biological characteristics of any animal do not provide for its daily prolonged use for photographing, riding and entertaining the crowd, especially in hot weather. Such exploitation, even without obvious signs of abuse, is harmful to the animal’s health," Anna Tereshko says.

In addition, most nocturnal species of animals (for example, owls) are forbidden to be used at a bright light (flashes of cameras and video cameras) due to their physiological characteristics. According to Kateryna Polyanska, ecologist of the Ecology-Law-Man human rights organization, handover of animals, staying in crowded places and constant contact with people contradict the needs of animals and lead to stress and various psychological injuries, which will affect their life.

It is the verification and reporting of the fact of cruelty to animals that should be carried out by state control bodies.

Also, public organizations should have no less weight in solving the issue of the functioning of such a business on the city streets.

Also, activists, zoologists, and public organizations conduct active educational activities, explaining to consumers of such services that not only animals can get harm from several photos or minutes of riding ponies/donkeys.

According to Anna Tereshko, representative of Animal Justice Ukraine, people who provide such services are usually not registered in any way and have no documents whatsoever for either the animal or their own activities. Therefore, they are not responsible for compliance with the standards for the provision of such services. If, for example, the animal turns out to be sick and infects the consumer with something, it will be difficult to provide the corresponding evidence. In addition, it is not known to whom this or that animal actually belongs.

Related: Serbia bans killing animals for fur production

How to solve the problem?

The provisions of the Laws of Ukraine "On the Protection of Animals from Cruel Treatment" and "On the Animal World" stipulate that the use of animals in photographic services, circuses, zoos are allowed subject to the zoohygienic, veterinary and sanitary norms and rules established for keeping animals. Also, according to Kateryna Polyanska, an ecologist of the human rights NGO Ecology-Law-Man, in accordance with the norms of these laws, animals must be provided with all the necessary conditions close to natural conditions that meet their biological needs.

The law prohibits causing injuries to animals, pain, disfigurement, or other acts that could lead to their death, and therefore, the legislative framework has already created the necessary basis for regulatory acts that regulate rules and standards for keeping animals and their use in business.

Related: Ukraine to stop cosmetics testing on animals

It follows that the cruelty of such “street” and “beach” businesses is caused by the inaction of the state control bodies that are negligent in conducting scheduled inspections of this type of entrepreneurial activity, does not check permits and veterinary documents, and animals’ condition. And sometimes they just turn a blind eye to outright violations.

Considering that the State Food and Consumer Service, the State Environmental Inspectorate, the police and other bodies charged with monitoring the observance of the norms of the law “On the Protection of Animals from Cruel Treatment” deal with animal issues only indirectly, within the framework of their main duties (protecting sanitary welfare, protecting the environment, protecting law and order, etc.), the solution could be the creation of a separate service that would deal only with the issues of keeping animals.

Related: Four activists detained at Circus Without Animals demonstration in Ukraine's Odesa

According to activists, the best measure to solve one of the problems with animal cruelty in Ukraine could be a complete ban on the use of animals for the functioning of such a business.

"It is necessary to prohibit the use of animals for entertainment, because it is impossible to control the conditions in which animals are kept, and the mode of their operation," Kateryna Soroka, co-founder of United Planet, said.

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We should not forget about the awareness and prevention of the problem. After all, by calling the police, writing a statement and publishing cases of animal cruelty on social networks, each of us will somehow raise a wave of indignation and pressure regarding the activities of the regulatory authorities, which ultimately force them to come to their place, check the documents and the condition of the animal with its subsequent seizure.

For example, in the Zaporizhya resort in Kyrylivka, "entrepreneurs" offer to take pictures with parrots, monkeys, geckos, snakes, and crocodiles. Several vacationers removed the fact of cruelty to animals - the mouth of the crocodile is bandaged, which already indicates a violation of the standards regarding injuring animals.

Responsibility for solving the problem of the existence of such a business in Ukraine lies not only on the regulatory authorities but on each of us. Indeed, cases with pronounced signs of ill-treatment most often become publicized, although, in fact, any exploitation of animals for the entertainment of people is cruelty, which has irreparable consequences for the moral and physical condition of the animal.

Related: Court endorses Kyiv city hall's decision to ban circuses with animals

So, in order for Ukraine to be considered one of the countries that promote a humane attitude to the animals, the citizens should be the first to guard such incidents. Entertain yourself with games with each other, interesting events and spend time with loved ones, but not with the help of the animals.

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