Vote on the Animal Health Law: FOUR PAWS welcomes marking steps towards more welfare for all companion animals including stray

FOUR PAWS welcomes marking steps towards more welfare for all companion animals including stray

On 15 April 2014, the European Parliament voted on the EU Commission's proposal for a new, comprehensive Animal Health Law. FOUR PAWS welcomes the result and especially the call of MEPs for the identification and registration of all dogs in Europe. Moreover, it is an important step that several animal health and welfare aspects concerning companion animals have been added to the proposal of the EU Commission.

Up to now, the Commission made a substantial difference between wild animals and kept animals. Due to the voting of the MEPs, stray animals will no longer fall under the scope of ‘wild animals’ but will be defined under a new category of ‘non-owned animals of domesticated species’. This is crucial not to let abandoned and non-owned animals fall under the category of wild animals, in order to avoid a massive eradication of them. Dogs must be considered as domestic animals, even if they are no longer under direct human control. “It is neither acceptable to create an arbitrary distinction in the definition of dogs, ignoring a classical biological categorisation of the animals, nor to create a ‘two-class system’ for dogs, depending if they have an owner or not.  This would also contradict the Treaty of Lisbon defining all animals as sentient beings.” says Dr. Marlene Wartenberg, Director of FOUR PAWS’ European Policy Office in Brussels. “Moreover, such an unclear and illogic distinction would lead to legal uncertainties when it comes to an application of the norm in the whole of Europe.”

Another great step for health prevention and animal welfare; the majority of MEPs also voted in favor of one amendment requiring Member States to establish for January 2018 a mandatory system of registration and identification of all dogs and presenting a respective report. In regards to this, by July 2019 the EU Commission will submit a report on the experience gained by Member States by establishing these databases and, on the basis of this report, present minimum standards for such a system of registration of dogs. 


Here, too, the obligation of private as well as public owners (e.g. public shelters) to identify and register companion animals as a basic principle of ‘responsible ownership’, which is supported by FOUR PAWS, was accepted. It would also create a ‘two-class system’ for dogs if this was only provided for animals being kept in a private household.


“The vote of the European Parliament marks a step towards a future system of traceability, an improvement of health for humans and animals, and animal welfare,” concludes Wartenberg. “The new obligation will strengthen the principles of a responsible ownership of animals and stand for a togetherness of humans and animals in Europe. We hope that, when the concluding negotiations of the European Parliament with the Member States in The Council and the Commission are finished, these two important achievements will be preserved.”

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