Dog-walking ban to fight virus causes outrage in Serbia

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Undertakers take a moment while a priest and family, not seen, pray during the burial of an elderly victim of the COVID-19 at the Almudena cemetery in Madrid, Spain, Saturday March 28, 2020. In Spain, where stay-at-home restrictions have been in place for nearly two weeks, the official number of deaths is increasing daily. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Olmo Calvo)

BELGRADE, Serbia — Pet owners in Serbia are furious over the populist government’s decision to ban even a brief walk for people with dogs during an evening curfew to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Angry dog owners have flooded social networks, warning that the ban could harm their dogs’ health and cause frustration and anxiety for both the animals and their owners.

Veterinarian Nenad Milojkovic said protecting animal rights is a test for a society during hard times such as an epidemic. He said skipping the evening walk could worsen the condition for the dogs with urinary problems and “aggravate basic hygienic conditions in people’s homes.”

Serbia’s government made the decision on Saturday, revoking a previously introduced 20-minute permission for dog owners to walk their pets.

Serbia has imposed some of the harshest measures in Europe against the spread of the new coronavirus, including a total ban on movement for people over 65 years and a curfew from 5 p.m. until 5 a.m.

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