Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Thursday Column - Croatia Lifestyle 2: Dogs and Other Pets in Croatia



The most important question for dog owners thinking of moving to Croatia, or taking their dog with them on holiday, is “can they go back to England without having to be quarantined?” The answer is now yes as Croatia joined the pet passport scheme last year. Look at the Defra website – http://www.defra.gov.uk/ - for all the details of what you need to do. Suffice to say that Croatian vets seem well geared up to cope with the scheme and have been routinely inoculating against rabies and other diseases for a number of years. You do need to plan in advance though, to meet the various time limits, but if you get confused by all the rules, the telephone helpline, listed on the website, is very good. Getting your dog into Croatia involves less paperwork (usually none). The Germans have been driving to Croatia with their dogs for years.

Whether your dog will enjoy Croatia is another question. Is it dog friendly? The answer is yes and no. Unsurprisingly, Croatians aren’t as soppy about their dogs as we are. Outside the main cities, dogs in the house is a rarity and you’ll see most of them tied up on fairly long chains outside the house. Presumably this is for security reasons but since they can only get at you within the limits of the length of the chain, this function is of limited use. There are normally a number of strays about, particularly in the spring, which can be a nuisance, but they tend to get rounded up before the start of the tourist season. This is one good reason for making sure your dog can’t get out on its own. The other good reason, which applies to cats as well, is that many small holders leave poison about to ward off mice, rats and other pests and we’ve heard of a few incidents of pet poisoning.

Increasingly, particularly in the big cities such as Zagreb, dogs are kept as pets, in similar style to the UK, and you’ll see an increasing number of pedigrees around. This comes with other problems as Croatia is not yet a nation of pooper scoopers so the parks and green spaces can be a bit of a nightmare in densely built areas. So far, in our three years here, we’ve seen nobody but us clean up after their dog though there are regulations that say you should.

Walks? Plenty of them but mostly along roads and beaches. In the season, dogs on beaches tends to be frowned upon so be prepared to get challenged. Similarly, I don’t think the Croatian’s are used to seeing too many well trained dogs, and, more often, have experiences of being frightened by strays or guard dogs, so if they see your dog off the lead, they may either take avoiding action or suggest you put the lead on. Nice long rural walks are few and far between though I’ve found a couple of mini woods near us, which are lovely and cool in the heat of the summer. We’ve also discovered a 45 minute trail around the olive groves nearby but I’m not giving that one away on the net as it’s one of the most peaceful spots we know and has beautiful views over the Adriatic. There are also the mountain hikes, upwards from the coast, but, since the paths have all been adapted to ensure that rescue teams can use them, they are covered in large jagged stones which can be a bit rough on paws.

Dog friendly hotels and restaurants? It is rare to see dogs in restaurants but we have managed to get into most places with Rosie, our Springer Spaniel. It’s more difficult in the towns than the villages and it seems that there are generally rules against it. If we ask in a new place, the answer is generally no if we want to sit inside, although the owner makes exceptions if he wants to. Now, Rosie just tends to slip discretely under the table and once they see she is no problem they can turn a blind eye. Of course, in the warmer months, outside eating is the norm so there’s no debate. We’ve rarely had a problem with hotels though there are some that say no. Most people offering apartments will make a personal judgement based on potential income versus possible dog damage.

Food, supplies and accessories? It’s not really a problem to find pet food in the main supermarkets though there are relatively fewer pet shops than in the UK. If you want specialist food such as Eukanuba, you’ll normally have to go to the nearest main town like Split.

Vets? We’ve been very impressed by the standard of veterinary care in Croatia and were offered the vet’s mobile phone number on our first routine visit. It’s also a lot cheaper than in the UK.

Kennels? We haven’t found any yet and this may be a good opportunity for an ex pat niche business. Families tend to stay together in Croatia and there always seems to be someone to feed their dogs if they go away. We rely on friends.

Other Pets

If you’re soft on cats, your heart strings will be tugged by the breeding rate of strays that congregate around the bins. Cats are kept, occasionally, as pets but the strays don’t get an awful lot of sympathy from the locals. We know, from friends, that cat flaps have yet to be made widely available which is an indication of how cats are viewed. If you’re bringing a cat with you, the biggest problem will be trying to keep it away from any poison that’s left out, while it adapts to its new territory.

Exotic birds in small cages is another source of angst for animal lovers, though within the confines of their space, they tend to be well looked after.

If you leave your door open in the autumn, in rural areas, the lovely brown harvest mice will find you. They may be lovely to look at but they’re a nightmare to find and leave a trail of mini destruction behind them, so try and get them out humanely before they breed.

***

Our dog Rosie loves it here and has left her mark around Croatia. If she was to complain, I’d suspect it would be about the heat in August. However she loves to swim and has realised that a quick dunk in the water, even in November, is the fastest way to cool down after a run around. In this photo you can see her multi tasking – having a snack, catching up on the news and empathising with the Croatians about the ex pat invasion.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stumbled across this article and found it very useful as we are looking to travel through Croatia with our two dogs in May this year. One thing I am a little unclear of is the need to use leads as the Croatian Embassy's website suggests that dogs must be kept on leads. Our dogs are quite energetic so this is not really going to be practical. Does anybody stick to this in reality?

Mike, UK

10:18 pm  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

Thanks for the comment Mike. The Croatians are generally a little wary of dogs - not surprising as most of the local dogs are kept chained up and appear pretty ferocious and there are a few strays around. However we've seen plentry of dogs off leads and ours is hardly ever on one. If we see a nervous Croatian or another dog walker with an uncontrollable dog we tend to put the lead on as a courtesy but otherwise it's pretty much as England. You shouldn't get reprimanded unless you're in a formal park or National Park. You'll also see quite a few dogs with muzzles on but that tends to be only because they need them! We did have one instance, at the Split Boat Show, where we were not allowed to bring our dog in without a muzzle but that turned out to be an over zealous security guard.

The Croatians are increasingly taking to dogs as pets so I would say, as a sweeping generalisation, the regime is getting less formal rather than the other way around.

The short answer to your question is mostly no! Have a good trip.

10:03 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Jane, your advice is gratefully received. It's reassuring to hear that Croatians are reasonable when it comes to dogs.

Mike

12:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have a dog in croatia that was rescued. He has been in kennels since Dec 2007 which i pay for. He had the rabies jab in May but the kennel owner hasn't had the blood test done yet. says he didn't understand the rules. I also asked him if he would be able to rehome the dog but says he isn't able to. What would be a reasonable price for kennel fees in Croatia do you think? Do you think it is possible to find the dog a home in Croatia? regards

10:47 pm  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

It's a shame that the vet that gave the jab did not explain the rules to the kennel owner. You'll need a pet passport as well if you want to take him back to eg the UK. As for fees, there aren't that many kennels in Croatia so I'd say it's down to you and the kennel owner to negotiate a rate based on a long term stay. I'd guess he/she is not that motivated to help you rehome the dog as that means losing fees - perhaps part of the deal would be an incentive for the kennel owner to help you find a home.

Perhaps you can add another comment with a bit more detail about the dog -age, location, temperament, breed or characteristics, etc and a contact email address. Anyone that reads it who is interested in rehoming can then contact you direct. The local vet might also be able to help and an advertisement in a local paper might work?

9:40 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Jane Cody,

We hope to go to Croatia in June 2009 with our dog.

Can you tell me are there NEW LAWS about bringing in a dog? We have the Pet Passport - Rabies inje. would be 6 months old in the beginning of June 09. If you could find out we would be greathful.

Patricia

11:49 pm  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

Thanks for the comment Patricia and, as far as I am aware there are no new laws. The toughest part by far is getting to England so if you meet the English rules, you should be ok on the continent and Croatia. Just bear in mind that Bosnia and Montenegro are not part of the scheme, I believe, and I'm sure you know that you have to wait six months after the rabies jab to get a blood test to confirm immunisation. We've never been stopped crossing the border into Croatia (or throughout Europe for that matter) because of the dog but I suppose there's always a first time for everything. When you go back to England you need to get the flea treatment between 24 and 48 hours before going to England but I'm sure you know that as well.

9:10 am  
Blogger Christina said...

I travel with my 6-kilo dog from the US to Croatia every year. FYI: he has also been to Slovenia, Bosnia, and Serbia without problems, though we were crossing borders by automobile.

8:40 pm  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

Thanks for your comment Christina. We do understand that it's not a problem taking dogs into these countries but the problem for British dog owners is taking dogs back to the UK, which is understandably strict. "UK" dogs can travel reasonably freely in countries that are members of the pet passport scheme, as long as the rules are adhered too, but problems can arise if they have travelled in countries that are not part of this scheme. As far as I'm aware Bosnia, Serbia and also Montenegro are outside the scheme and, in that case, under the letter of the law, there could be problems bringing a dog back into the "Pet Passport Region" if it has travelled outside it. On a more practical note, a country's membership of this scheme means they take the threat of rabies very seriously and, by implication, pet owners should be extra careful travelling to countries where this may not be the case.

8:53 pm  
Blogger Dominiek said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:12 pm  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:27 pm  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes, Black Cat is a good place to ask. I have had to leave my dog behind for quick trips - and I will email you a mobile phone number of a friend whose sister - or maybe cousin? - is a professional dog boarder in Split. I have not used her services yet, myself, but I trust the word of my friend.

tina

6:35 pm  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

Tina - that's great, many thanks on behalf of Dominiek - does that mean you are in Croatia at the moment or in the US?

6:43 pm  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes, I am in Croatia right now. With my dog, who has become a bit of a legend here over the years. He's even met the President!

6:49 pm  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

Tina - could you send me your email address as a comment? I won't post it but can then get in touch direct.

7:00 pm  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

Here's an amalgamatian of an earlier series of comments between Dominiek and Croatia Online. Unfortunately google doesn't allow us to edit comments, merely delete, so the sequence may look a little bizarre but I promised Dominiek I would only leave his number up long enough for him to perhaps get some help from a fellow reader!

Many thanks Dominiek for sharing your experience on kennls and good luck with the motor bike project! Also thanks again to Christina for her input.

***

Hello Jane,
Very interesting article about dogs and very real about Croatians' behaviour towards dogs.
Living in Belgium, I drove last week to Croatia, near Makarska, for a 1 month stay with my dog, a well-trained and quiet 6 years old male American Staffordshire terrier.
But I received a call that I should go back to Belgium for 4 days. So I plan on taking a plane home from Split, and hope to leave my dog here.
But who can and will take care of him? I am really worried not to find a solution, so any help is welcome. (Dominiek)
****
Thanks for the post Dominiek. I've put it up on the blog just in case anyone can help. I'm not in Croatia at the moment so can't be very much direct help. I know there is a kennels somewhere in Split but am not sure where, and will see if I can find out. There might be one in Makarska but perhaps go to the local pet shop and see if they have any ideas? The only other thing I can suggest is to find the local expat community in Makarska or Split and see if there is anyone there that can dog sit for a while. There is an Alliance Francaise in Split which might be a start? Or perhaps Black Cat cafe in Split (see trip advisor) which has a few English, French and Belgian regulars. Good luck. (Jane)
***
Hello Jane,
About my dog's stay, I found a dog kennel near Trilj where they are
raising German sheperd dogs, and occasionally take bigger dogs as
pension guests. But is was the worst solution I had in mind, as my dog
has been treated like a human since birth, so being amongst other dogs
is not his favorite waste of time. He was stressed when I came to pick
him up and still shows signs of fear to be deserted, so the next couple of
days I must be careful not to enlarge this fear.
Anyway, for a 'normal' big dog the kennel is a good solution. It is
situated just outside the center of Trilj in full nature next to a
canalized river. The cages are about 2x2 meter, they are very simple
and not waterproof. I believe the employees take them out to walk each
day but no more than 2 times a day. They asked to bring my own dog food
but I am sure they can provide also dry food for a supplement if you
can't and I saw that it's of good quality. I paid 250 kn for 5 days,
about 7 EUR/day, with own food. One of the employees is Marko and can
be contacted at +385 981 919 988 but his English is limited. We met
before the hotel St. Mihovil, an easy to find big hotel in the center
of Trilj.
For the rest my advice is to search for dog kennels for your type of
dog, and to ask for the possibility for a dog pension at their
infrastructure. Or if they know people near the place where you want
to leave your dog and that are capable to take care of yours too.
For amstaffs I found 3 kennels:
Playmaker's Amstaff: http://www.playmakers-amstaff.tk/
Amstaff Zadar: http://www.crvenamunja.com/Moj%20zadnji%20site/web-site%20stafordi/contact.htm
Iron Amstaff: http://www.ironamstaff.com/eo_nama.html
None of them is close to Split or on my way to Split from Makarska but
the people of Playmaker's Amstaff brought me in contact with the
kennel in Trilj.
I hope this info can be helpful for other people. Myself I am
searching for nice trips for motorbikes, as I want to write an article
for a motor magazine. So any help is welcome!
(Dominiek)

12:11 pm  
Anonymous dining table said...

I have a dog and I really love her. She is so active like every other dog. She is always in my side where ever I go. I am so thankful that I found this post. It really helps a lot for me to understand more about my dog.

9:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,
I will be travelling round Europe with my collie/spaniel and I will be in Croatia in May. I need to fly home from Zagreb from May 22nd to May 25th. Can anyone please recommend a kennel where I can leave her safely please?
Thank you,
Susie

1:40 pm  
Blogger Lhasalover said...

Has anyone crossed the Montenegro-Croatia border with a dog? I realise that it is not part of the passport scheme - how seriously is this taken? Are the border patrol people interested at all? Thanks, Louise

1:55 pm  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

I wouldn't like to advise on this I'm afraid - big consequences if it goes wrong and we never felt like taking the risk. However I can say that there was never much evidence of concern on Croatia's borders, the one to watch is France and UK. We were just so pleased that the passport scheme was introduced that we tried to follow it by the letter.

10:39 am  

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