Animal treatment and protection in Croatia

Animal sterilization in Croati
Image by Arnie Papp

Many Croatian citizens have pets. Approximately 60 % of Croatian families own at least one pet: 41% of citizens own dogs and 29% own cats. Unfortunately, too many animals in Croatia are not treated very well mostly because some are not educated enough about how to treat animals or what is forbidden.


Animal treatment in Croatia

Sterilization of pets is not mandatory in Croatia. As a result, cats and dogs exponentially reproduce. These extra, unwanted pets end up abandoned, poisoned, strangled, or dumped in trash cans. Many Croatians find castration of pets to be mutilation, yet they can make peace with murdering animals when unwanted. Perhaps if more cats and dogs were castrated, then there would be less pets to poison, eh?

Poisoning is a serious problem. It is not only used as a method of birth control by the owner of a pregnant pet, but neighbors will put out poisoned food to kill strays in the neighborhood. This inevitably causes the death of outdoor cats who do have owners.

According to the law, local authorities are obligated to build animal shelters but the number of shelters is still insufficient. Non-profit animal shelters don’t have the capacity or funds to give proper care to all abandoned animals. There is also a lack of information informing citizens about what to do with lost and abandoned animals.

Dog breeding does exist in Croatia, but if you’re wanting a pet, please adopt from a shelter or take in a pet from off the street instead. There are too many pets without homes.

What you need to do when you get a pet

When you get a pet, regardless of whether you adopt from a shelter, take in an abandoned stray or purchase a pet from a breeder, your first stop should be to a vet so that they can be vaccinated, checked for disease, and hopefully, neutered so they can’t reproduce.

By law, all pets in Croatia must be vaccinated against rabies and all dogs must be micro-chipped. Cats only need to be micro-chipped if they are going to cross the border into another country.

Other available vaccinations for dogs and cats

Dogs can be vaccinated against:

  • Bjesnoća (rabies)
  • Štenećak (distemper)
  • Zarazni hepatitis (infectious hepatitis)
  • Korona (corona)
  • Parvoviroza (parvovirus)
  • Leptospiroza (leptospirosis)
  • Zarazni kašalj (contagious cough)

Cats can be vaccinated against:

  • Bjesnoća (rabies)
  • Panleukopenija or mačja kuga or mačićak (Kitten plague)
  • Rinotraheitis or zarazni kašalj (Contagious cough)
  • Calici virus (Calici virus)
  • Mačja leukemija (Kitten leukemia)

Treatment of stray cats

In Croatia, dogs are clearly preferred over cats. Many consider cats to be rodents, which is reflected in their treatment.

Croatia has not yet implemented a plan to address the large number of stray cats, which has inevitably led to the prevalence of various cat diseases. Only a few animal shelters in Croatia accept cats.

There are so many stray cats that they tend to form colonies around the city. Luckily, there is usually a “cat lady” in each neighborhood that takes on the responsibility of feeding the local colony of cats, whom otherwise have to fend for themselves. This creates a lot of competition in larger colonies.

In some towns, volunteers and cat lovers hunt and organize sterilization for stray cats. After sterilization and recovery, they are returned to the place where they were found. This process is called “Uhvati-steriliziraj–vrati” (Trap-neuter-release) and it is the cheapest and the most humane way of preventing stray cats from producing more stray cats.

Local communities have the option to require sterilization of cats and dogs. More than 100 Croatian communities have already implemented permanent sterilization measures to prevent uncontrolled animal reproduction and the spread of disease.

Each town and city are required by law to pay for the sterilization of stray pets, however it’s not enforced. Each city usually does have a small budget for this purpose. To find out if your town has budget to sterilize stray animals, contact the Komunalno and ask. You can search for “Komunalno” plus the name of your city to find the appropriate contact information. If they do have budget, then you can take the animal to any vet, they will neuter them and then send the bill to the city.

Sterilization is a much cheaper and more effective measure of caring for animals than putting them in shelters. In some communities, individuals finance animal shelters and the sterilization processes. Some NGOs will sterilize stray cats and cat-pets free of charge or for a reduced rate. For example, Prava šapa in Zagreb offers this service.


Law on animal protection in Croatia

Animal rights in Croatia are regulated by the Zakon o zaštiti životinja (Law on the protection of animals). This law defines the responsibility and obligations of citizens and businesses towards animals.

The Animal Protection Law defines:

  • Protection of animal lives, health, and welfare
  • Ways that people treat animals
  • Required conditions for animal breeding, medical procedures, killing, transport, scientific purposes, keeping animals in zoos and circuses
  • Selling pets
  • Abandoned and lost animal treatment
  • Inspection supervision
  • Sanctions

Forbidden acts on animals

Many restrictions outlined in the law maybe be written on paper but are not enforced in real life. Sanctions are implemented rarely regardless of the number of reports of animal abuse.

According to the law, these acts are forbidden (this is a general summary):

  • Killing animals
  • Hurting animals and making them suffer
  • Bullying and frightening animals
  • Exposing animals to any diseases on purpose
  • Poisoning animals
  • Abandoning animals and pets
  • Breeding animals for animal fights
  • Encouraging aggression of animals
  • Breeding animals for fur production
  • Gifting animals in lottery games
  • Dog racing

Fines for abusing animals

Those who break the law protecting animals will be penalized for misdemeanors and fined accordingly.

  • Businesses – between 8.000 and 100.000 kn
  • Citizens – between 10.000 and 30.000 kn
  • Local authority units – between 15.000 and 30.000 kn
  • Project managers – between 1.000 and 2.000 kn
  • Experiment managers – between 1.000 and 2.000 kn

How to report animal abuse

If you suspect or know that someone is harming or killing animals, report the abuse:

All reports must be sent to the Police and Općinsko državno odvjetništvo (a district attorney) as well.

Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can recommend one if you contact us.

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12 thoughts on “Animal treatment and protection in Croatia

  1. Maja Zagorska Sela
    February 3, 2020 @ 7:32 am

    I had to put my dog down last week as he puncture stomach and was dying in pain. He was 12 and unable to handle surgery.
    Municipality worker who happens to bang my doors, angry at me, as I reported the trash dump site tells me “I put my dog own, vet gave me a permission”. As I was shocked to hear that HE actually did it himself – no euthanasia – but he did it (do not wish to know weather it was shot or strangled as they do here), he repeated “vet gave permission”.

    And another lady tells me I am cruel as God should have taken care of it. Not the vet. I wonder if she was a meat eater thinking that what she eats died naturally????

    I wonder about this place.
    An love your site.


    • Expat in Croatia
      February 7, 2020 @ 2:24 pm

      Hi Maja,

      This is horrifying! I’m so sorry to hear that this happened! It is so hard to make the decision to put down a pet, and to have all of this happen just makes it so much worse. Where do you live?

      Thank you for following the site, Maja.




  2. Nicole Hudson
    September 10, 2020 @ 7:31 pm

    Someone needs to save the turtle in Dubrovnik aquarium. I’ve never cried like that before it’s so sad. I’ve read articles on how bad it is and how it was nearly rescued but years later 40+ it’s still there in the same small dirt tank alone. I wish I could help.


    • Expat in Croatia
      September 14, 2020 @ 11:29 am

      Hi Nicole,

      That is awful! Have you tried contacting the appropriate people noted at the bottom of this post?




  3. Vanessa
    September 11, 2020 @ 8:58 am

    Do you know of a veterinarian in Split who can provide documentation needed for travel to another EU country for pets from the United States? I am a US citizen and need to have a Croatian veterinarian fill out an EU form, but I cannot find a vet who is able to do it.


  4. Kat
    March 3, 2021 @ 1:54 am

    How can I report a man that ties up dogs in my family’s village (he lives in another village) and leaves them? I am here visiting and there are 2 young dogs I have been feeding for the last couple of days but they have no form of shelter. He has apparently done this before and doesn’t seem to plan on stopping. He ties the dogs up and goes to his own village and abandons them with no food or water. How can I report him? How can he be stopped from doing this again?


    • Expat in Croatia
      March 11, 2021 @ 1:45 pm

      Hi Kat,

      I am very saddened to hear this. At the bottom of this post, there are instructions on how to report animal abuse.




  5. Pat
    March 25, 2021 @ 11:39 pm

    My friend’s small dog got injured by grooming shop in Zadar ..They hurt his genital area and put him to sleep for finished grooming.Worst thing is they charge my friend for putting poor dog to sleep. It has been 3 days poor little still pain. Where can I report this situation ?


    • Expat in Croatia
      March 25, 2021 @ 11:42 pm

      Hi Pat,

      That is awful! There is information on where you can report animal abuse at the bottom of the above post.




  6. luciana
    August 4, 2021 @ 11:29 am

    hello. i would like to ask if someone can help to this kitten near zadar, staringrad paklenica.
    there are czech tourists that made these pictures, see below the link from FB. please, can anyone help there?


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