So is the animal “a thing” or not? When is it “a thing” and when it isn’t ? (= the law of the Slovak Republic reflects upon such concept in several areas ). What are the key changes in the Slovak Veterinary Act?
The Slovak Civil Code still treats and addresses the animals as “things”, but several other specific regulations relating to animals address them as living and feeling beings and grant them certain special rights.
For example, the Veterinary Care Act and in particular its Section 22 governs the protection of animals, and so does the Slovak Penal Code by defining the criminal offence of inflicting cruelty to animals (maltreatment) and negligence of the duty to care.
The amendment of the Veterinary Care Act, being currently reviewed in the parliamentary inter-departmental proceeding, recognizes that each living being has its own particular value and needs to have its own conditions created. According to the new legal regulation, each and every animal is of special importance and value as a living being, having the ability to perceive by using its own senses and within civil-law relations it enjoys its own status. In terms of law and animals, the provisions of movable assets will apply only if it is not in contradiction with the nature of the animal as a living being. The purpose of the amendment is the regulation of the status of animals within the private-law relations under the Slovak Civil Code, and further defines the animal so as it is an object of legal relations, and liability defining relations in situations where the damage has been done to the animal, or damage has been done by the animal.
Hunters: When / where / who they can shoot? What if my dog was shot? What if someone in the municipality shoots the cats using an air rifle. Is it allowed?
Shooting a dog by a hunter
The Slovak Hunting Act explicitly prohibits free movement of dogs – i.e. movement of dogs leash-free and outside of the rearing space or breeding facility – at a distance of no less than 50 meters from a person that leads the dog. Exempt are all service dogs and hunting dogs in training and hunting ,
a member of the hunting guard on duty under the Hunting Act is entitled to kill on the hunting ground of freely moving dog and cat at a distance of no less than 200 meters from the nearest building structure. The above will not apply to a dog wearing a collar or a breast harness, which must be of a distinctive colour different from the colour of its fur, and also will not apply to a visibly marked cat.
If your cat or dog is shot on a hunting ground (hunting zone or territory), you may:
Shooting the cats in municipalities:
Shooting from an air rifle is governed by the Firearms and Ammunition Act is from an air rifle can shoot only at firing range or gallery and in the designated areas – i.e. areas where one’s life, health or assets of other persons cannot be put in jeopardy (e.g. on a secure private plot or land). Otherwise it is deemed as an offence and further to be handled by the competent police department.
Shooting a cat is also in conflict with Section 22 of the Veterinary Care Act prohibiting the abuse and groundless killing of an animal. Such offence will be addressed and resolved by the Regional Veterinary and Food Administration.
Such acts or deeds as stated above may be classified as a criminal offence, especially:
or any combination thereof.
Yes. The municipalities establish, operate and participate in the operation of shelters and quarantine measures for animals, having a specific obligation to ensure the capture of stray animals on its territories.
The capture of stray animals and placing them into shelters and quarantine stations may be carried out only by competent persons specially trained in the meaning of the Veterinary Care Act.
Best what one can do regarding stray cats is to capture such animals, have them spayed or neutered and vaccinated, and return to the place where originally found – into their own habitat, as it is their home. As of kittens, it is advisable to first verify whether these are truly orphaned, and only then bring them to the shelter.
On the contrary, feeding stray cats increases their ability to reproduce and interferes with the natural balance, often resulting into an overgrowth of their population to unpleasant dimensions.
What are the competencies of shelters and civic associations (non-profits) ? What competence does the Animal Ombudsman have? What competence does the Freedom of Animals have? (none.) Does the state pay for the operation and activities of the organisations? Why charge fees for adoption, when one wants to adopt the animal /pet with love?
Definition as well as the competence of the shelters and quarantine stations are regulated in the Decree of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Slovak Republic No. 123/2008 Coll. on details of the protection of pets and requirements for quarantine stations and animal shelters.
The quarantine station means a facility where the captured stray animals with unknown health status are kept until the moment when necessary treatment and testing for the exclusion and prevention of disease communicable to other animal or on a human have been performed.
Animal shelter is a facility used for keeping unwanted animals and the captured stray animals after the completion of the examinations, tests and preventive measures of negative disease transferable to other animal or on a human, performed in the quarantine station. Animal shelter may arrange social contact between the kept animals and the public, provided that there is no risk of transmission of diseases communicable to other animal or on a human, particularly while walking animals on a leash or other fixation devices by persons adequately physically and mentally developed.
The quarantine station and the animal shelter must, in particular:
What does animal cruelty or maltreatment mean? definition (Note: it is laid down in a certain government regulation)…what is still an offence and what a crime already? Does the animal cruelty require the element of intention or is negligence punishable as well? Why has almost nobody been put in prison so far? (since with offences, alternative sentencing is applied in principle, etc.)
An animal cruelty definition can be found in the provision of Section 22 (2) of Act No. 39/2007 Coll. on Veterinary Care, whereunder the animal cruelty means any practices, save for a reasonable health and approved experimental reason, by which:
Please also note that pursuant to the Act on Veterinary Care (Section 22 (3)), it is also prohibited to:
On one side, animal cruelty is considered under Act No. 39/2007 Coll., on Veterinary Care as an offence (sanction of up to EUR 1,000 in the case of natural persons; legal persons may be imposed a sanction of up to EUR 20,000), and, on the other side, animal cruelty is a crime too, i.e. in cases where conditions laid down by the Criminal Code are met.
Section 378 of the Criminal Code stipulates:
“(1) Any person who maltreats an animal
a) in spite of having been sanctioned for the similar offence during the past twelve months, or convicted for the same offence during the past months,
b) in a particularly cruel and brutal manner, or
c) to the point of death,
shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of up to one year.
(2) The offender shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of between one and three years if he commits the offence referred to in paragraph 1
a) subjecting to maltreatment several animals,
b) in public or in a publicly accessible place,
c) subjecting to maltreatment an animal protected by law, or
d) acting in a more serious manner.”
To qualify the act as a crime, the element of intention to commit the offence is required.
However, our legislation also recognizes the “animal cruelty” crime committed with negligence, i.e. the crime of animal neglect (Section 378a of the Criminal Code), whereunder:
“Anyone who causes, with neglect, death or permanent consequences for health of several animals which are owned by it or the care of which is its obligation by neglecting such animals, shall be liable to a penalty of imprisonment of up to two years.”
How to find out whether it concerns an offence or crime in the given case? The dividing line should be the gravity of the act committed. However, in practice, the determination will rather be based on the conscience and willingness of a specific policeman who shall decide to either classify the given act as a crime or simplify its work and submit the given incentive or case to a competent Regional Veterinary and Food Administration or District Office as an offence.
Whereas the legislator has determined a low penalty for committing crimes against animals (i.e. up to 5 years), we can talk about an offence. In Slovakia, the practice of alternative sentencing is applied in the event of offences and this might be an answer to the question why nobody has been put in prison for animal cruelty so far.
If an upper threshold of the penalty for the term of imprisonment for animal cruelty as a crime exceeding 5 years is determined, the court will have to impose a sentence of imprisonment.
What are the REAL powers of law enforcement authorities / Regional Veterinary and Food Administration / municipalities? What can they be asked for? Are they authorized: to enter the property, the apartment, to seize the animal? (= yes, some are obligated, some have the authority to do so .) How to communicate if the police fails to arrive to safeguard evidence (horse head in the forest = duty to make perform immediate evidencing, to properly assess facts, etc. Communication should be done mainly in writing and relevant legal provisions or regulations need to be quoted by the police …)
Policemen are authorized to enter the property, into the apartment subject to certain conditions set by law. Concerning the seizure of an animal due to suspicion of committing an offense of animal cruelty, policemen may, or will seize the animal in question for the purpose of safeguarding evidence.
Police Force competencies:
Under the Act no.171/1993 Coll.on Police Force, the police may :
– demand a necessary explanation from a person that is likely to assist in clarification of facts important for the detection of a criminal act or offence (Section 17);
– demand information from a person that is likely to assist in clarification of facts important for the detection of a criminal act or offence and its perpetrator (Section 17a)
– detain a person who (Section 19)
a) by his/her actions poses immediate threat to his/ her life or health, or another life or health or to property;
b) was caught committing offence and there is a reasonable suspicion that he/ she will continue doing so, or it is inevitable for proper investigation or clarification of the matter,
c) was attempted to escape from detainment referred to Section 17, or Section 18, and remaining a reasonable doubt from escape,
d) slander a police officer on the police department or another person, or has aggressive behaviour
e) is wanted by and searched for by enforcement authorities
f) was found at the crime scene immediately after the crime was committed and it is necessary to investigate person’s relation with the criminal offence;
– has an authority to seize a thing with view of necessary action if he suspects some relation of the thing to the commission of a criminal offence or an offence, and its seizure is necessary for the clarification of the matter at hand of the decision of law enforcement agency, or the decision of the body involved in the hearing the case concerned. The police officer shall make out a receipt of the thing seized with its detailed description. which could enable identification of the thing, hand it over to the person whose thing has been seized. The seizure of a thing must exceed 90 days. If an operation carried out proves any connection between the thing seized and a criminal offence or an offence, a police officer is obliged to submit the thing seized without delay to the law enforcement agency or the body competent to deal with the offence.
Pursuant to the Criminal Code (specifically, Section 103 CC), a policeman may enter dwellings, other premises, or lands, only provided that the case cannot be postponed and such entry is necessary to protect life or health of persons or protect the state, maintain public order, protect property, or protect rights and freedoms of others, and in specified areas, also to protect nature, particularly, when it concerns dwellings, premises, or lands of persons caught in the very act of crime. The premises stated in Section 1 may be entered by policemen, members of the Police Force, Military Police Service, Railway Police or customs authorities, if an arrest warrant or order for committal of a convict to prison to serve its term of imprisonment has been issued for a person staying there, or in cases when it is necessary to bring an accused or witness staying there. Upon entry into the places referred to in Section 1, it shall only be possible to take such acts that cannot be postponed or acts to bring a person, including the procedure pursuant to Section 99 (4).
It should be noted that pursuant to the Act, a search of premises may only be performed, if a reasonable suspicion exists that there is a thing in the flat or other premises serving for housing or in premises attached thereto (hereinafter only the “dwelling“) important for criminal proceedings or that a person suspected of having committed a crime is hiding there or it is necessary to seize movable property in order to satisfy the injured party´s claim for damages.
The Police Force of the SR is obliged to solve any suspicion of a committed crime (animal cruelty), whether on its own initiative or based on a notification. With any investigation or clarification of a crime, policemen shall duly obtain all proofs being at their disposal, i.e. the animal itself as well. Neither a policeman, nor its superior authority (Public Prosecutor´s Office) shall be entitled to come to the conclusion that the given conduct constitutes no animal cruelty without having a position of an expert who may only be a veterinarian or inspector of the SVFA; only such expert shall determine whether it has been the case of animal cruelty based on expert evidence. The animal, or, in case of the animal´s death, its body, shall be available for the purpose of the expert evidence.
When reporting cases of animal cruelty or torturing to death to members of the PF, it is necessary to always communicate in writing. If you are fobbed off by policemen, claiming that it is not within their competence, or suggested to address the competent RVFA, call upon them in writing to take a certain act and send the call also to its superior authority – Public Prosecutor´s Office. Always insist on communication in writing and require the preparation of records from the meetings that shall be signed by both parties.
Local and Metropolitan Police
Its competences and authorizations include, without limitation, the following: – reporting braches of legal regulations to competent authorities (e.g. PF of the SR), found out during the performance of its tasks, the solution of which is not covered by the municipality´s competence; – authorization to enter a land for the purpose or detaining an offender caught while or immediately after committing an offence or crime (until the arrival of the police);
– authorization to enter a flat or non-residential premise, if there is a threat resulting from a delay;
– authorization to require identification from a person;
– authorization to order to persons not to enter certain land or flat for a necessary period of time, if required so by the performance of the police´s tasks
– clarification of offences, if laid down so by a special regulation.
State and Regional Veterinary and Food Administration (SVFA of the Slovak Republic and RVFA)
The competencies of the SVFA of the Slovak Republic and and RVFA in the performance of veterinary inspections is derived from the Act no. 39/2007 Coll. on Veterinary Care, as amended, and other relevant EU and Slovak legislation.
Veterinary inspectors and other official veterinarians, the RVFA perform veterinary controls in compliance with animal health requirements and animal welfare, deal with offenses, imposes fines and measures according to a special regulation based on findings while excercising its competence.
Animal cruelty and maltreatment is defined under Sec 22 (2,3) of the Veterinary Care Act. According to the aforementioned law, the animal cruelty is a minor offense under the competence of RVFA. Where the prohibited behaviour pursuant to Sec 22 (2,3) of the Act on Veterinary Care occurs, a fine of between EUR 400 and EUR 1,000 may be imposed on natural persons; in terms of legal persons or natural persons – entrepreneurs such sanctions may be higher.
The SVFA of the Slovak Republic and RVFA address all submissions and motions within their competencies regarding health and animal wellfare. The motion or submission may be filed in writing, orally (personally), by telephone or electronically. It must be legible and comprehensible. It must be clear as who it is against to, specify the issues at hand, and what is being sought. There is no legislation in force regarding the time limits of dealing with submissions and motions .
It must be distinguished between complaints and other forms of submissions or motions. Complaints are governed by a special regulation – the Complaints Act, not applicable to motions and submisions.
4. The breeders: is the breeding legal or not? Why don’t the breeders pay taxes? How to distinguish between different breeders?
Animal breeders can be essentially defined as persons profiting from breeding of dogs, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Their goal is to breed animals for the purpose of selling for as much profit as possible. There are different types of breeders. Persons who profit from uncontrolled dogs breeding make the dogs live in the unsuitable conditions, having poor health or nutrition. Essentially, these dogs live to reproduce and give births only. Other type of persons should be mentioned as well, as these are the ones who breed in an uncontrolled manner, mainly in villages, where a female dog is not spayed and the owner does not “care” whether some other local dog breeds with the female . Further on, there are breeders who have dogs at home with COO (certificate of origin), but puppies are being sold without the COO. Certainly, there are other reasons why people breed dogs.
Is it legal at all?
The legislation addressing the protection against an uncontrolled breeding of dogs and other animals in order to achieve financial gains is still insufficient and does not provide comprehensive and full protection and animal welfare.
However, it is important to note that that under the Act no. 39/2007 Coll. on Veterinary Care, any type of “breeder” must meet certain condition regarding animal husbandry and trading with animals. Where the breeder exports animals (pets) outside the territory of the Slovak Republic, it is deemed illegal if such animals are not examined by the veterinary (as well as identified and registered for the purpose of issue of a pet passport) or if puppies have not yet reached the age to be separated from its mother. In other words, each and every pet animal being exported outside the Slovak Republic has to have a veterinary certificate, needs to have a passport of a social animal issued and thus identified and registered, and any action contradicting the aforementioned is a violation of the Veterinary Care Act, possibly resulting into sanctions in the form of offense proceedings.
The breeding places with dogs being kept under terrible conditions, e.g. in cages, without sufficient movement, light, food, veterinary treatment – such ” breeds are illegal and violate the Act on Veterinary Care, which stipulates the conditions for breeding animals, as well as violations of the provisions of Section 22 (2,3) of the Act no. 39/2007 Coll. on Veterinary Care. The latter offense may be qualified as an offense of animal maltreatment or the offense of neglecting animal welfare, however, it is questionable whether negligent offense will be applied and charged.
Attention should be given to “breeding places” or husbandry with home animal breeding, where animals live in satisfactory conditions, have veterinary and other relevant care, and puppies are being sold for gaining profit (not registered breeding station). Such type of breeding is the most common and prevails in most regions of the Slovak Republic. The breeders are not registered with any association, meaning they are not checked or controlled by anyone. Under the legislation in force , such breeding is not illegal. This practice, so called “animal yard sale” is not subject to and doesn’t fall under the Trades Licensing Act (no trade license is required), provided the animals are sold in small quantities.
Under the current legislation, breeders have the obligation to report the commencement date, interruption and termination of the breeding activity (Section 37 (1) (a) of the Veterinary Care Act). SVFA of the Slovak Republic inspectors and RVFA inspectors are authorized to carry out checks on all facilities where animals are kept, and cooperate with and assist police where necessary. Where the breeder does not report its activity to the authority concerned, such omission shall be recognized as ‘illegal trading’, none of which is controlled and none of which pay any tax.
The Decree No. 123/2008 Coll. of the Ministry of Agriculture on details and welfare of pets and on the standard requirements of quarantine facilities and animal shelters specifically sets out the conditions necessary to be met concerning the needs of animals (eg minimum requirements for dog birthing space, general requirements for pet animals, etc.).
The municipalities: A neighbour maltreats his dog, claiming the dog is a “thing” and he/she has the right to do as he/she pleases, has a plague against the bark / another neigbour breeds 100 cats who are suffering or disturbing others, and does not wish to give up on them. The mayor says he is powerless. Where is the the truth? (the mayor is obliged to report such facts under Section 5 and 127 of the Civil Code, etc.) b) The municipality mayor disposes of stray dogs by having them shot by his son and leaving animal corpses in side road trenches. Is it legal? ( = quarantine measures). C) Úraduje u nás šarha, je to legálne? (= who can perform the capturing of animals?). D) Someone is laying poison. What if a child comes into contact with the poison?
Animal protection and welfare from the municipalities’ standpoint
What are the powers of the mayor?
What are his obligations ensuing from the law?
Regarding the maltreatment of a dog by the neighbour, the legislation in force qualifies such act as a crime, i.e.the mayor has competence and is obliged to deal with such wrongdoing and report to law enforcement authorities and provide all the necessary assistance.
Cats breeded by its owner and disturbing other persons by its excessive quantity
Under Section 5 of the Civil Code, the complaining neighbour may argue that such act of the person – breeder may be interpreted as an infringement of a quiet state of affairs.
Under Section 5 of the Civil Code “Should an obvious infringment of a quiet state of affairs have occurred, the protection may be asserted with the relevant authority of state administration. This authority may provisionally prohibit the infringment or command that the previous state of affairs be restored. The rights to assert the protection with a court shall not be hereby affected.. “
If the cats are suffering and are not sufficiently cared for, the mayor is also obliged to report this fact as an offense of animal abuse, alternatively as the crime of neglecting the care of the animals.
It is necessary to draw attention to Section 127 (1) of the Civil Code “The owner of a thing must omit all that inadequately bothers another person or that seriously jeopardizes the exercise of his rights. Therefore, the owner must in particular not jeopardize the neighbour’s building or plot by arrangements of his plot or by arrangements of his building placed thereon without taking sufficient measures for stiffening of the building or plot; furthermore, the owner must not inadequately bother the neighbours with noise, dust, ashes, smoke, gases, vapour, smells, solid or liquid waste, light, shading and vibrations; he must not let bred animals intrude the neighbour’s plot and carelessly or in an unsuitable season remove roots of trees from his soil or remove branches of trees exceeding to his plot.”
The municipality mayor disposes of stray dogs by having them shot by his son and leaving animal corpses in side road trenches.
The act of the mayor and his son is illegal.
Pursuant to Section 22 (7) of the Veterinary Care Act, the municipalities establish, operate and participate in the operation of shelters and quarantine facilities for animals.
Under Section 22 (8) of the Act on Veterinary Care, the municipality is obliged to ensure the capture of stray animals on its territory. The capture may not be performed by unqualified or non-competent person – the law precisely sets requirements and conditions.
The provision of Section 6 (2 ap) of the Act on Veterinary Care: “The State Veterinary and Food Administration shall organize training of persons in charge of capture of stray animals and their placement in shelters and quarantine facilities.”
In the event the municipality fails to comply, it violates the law for which it may be sanctioned, or even a criminal offense may be charged. The mayor is an acting executive body of the municipality.
Under the Veterinary Care Act, each municipality is to establish its own facility for strayed animals, or have the service contracted with other municipality.
Someone in our village is catching and collecting stray animals, he doesnt have the corresponding authorisation and is performing it in a cruel way and/or kills the animals afterwards.
It is illegal.
Stray dogs may be captured by trained specialists only, trained by the State Veterinary and Food Administration through their own training program.
Special legal regulation applies to killing an animal. The Section 22 (4) of the Act on Veterinary Care stipulates: “A reasonable reason for killing an animal shall be:
a) the case of necessary defense and dire emergency,
b) killing of a slaughter animal or other animal used to obtain products of animal origin,
c) killing the animal in an approved experiment,
d) painless killing of an animal due to its incurable disease, serious or extensive injury or its age if its further survival is associated with continuous pain or suffering; painless killing of an animal after a previous deprivation of consciousness can only be carried out by a veterinarian in addition to terminating an animal’s suffering in urgent cases if the assistance of a veterinarian cannot be ensured quickly,
e) killing of animals upon eradication, control, prevention and diagnosis of diseases and pest control,
f) killing unwanted animals if they cannot be provided with substitute care; does not apply to serving animals,
g) catching the animal in an authorized manner.
Excuses such as “the dog is an unwanted, there has been no success in provision of substitute care, shelters have limits in terms of capacity” should be countered by requesting a proof, a document, written communication with a shelter or other similar organization, or community, or some other evidence proving it has been really impossible to provide substitute care. The local sharha should provide the relevant documents. Otherwise, we may speak of a spontaneous groundless killing of animals .
Someone is laying poison. What if a child comes into contact with the poison?
Firstly, submit a criminal complaint – once the submission has been made, it is the task of the police to deal with the case. Regarding the public poisoning, such act may be qualified as criminal offense of endangering public safety under Section 284 of the Criminal Code.
Regarding an animal that is poisoned, such act may be qualifies as a criminal offense of animal cruelty and maltreatment of animals, alternatively a criminal offense of damaging property or assets of another person.