From left: Andrea Gavinelli (Head of Unit G3 Animal Welfare European Commission), Elisabeth Jeggle (Member of the European Parliament), Christoph Maisack (Deputy Animal Welfare Commissioner State of Baden-Württemberg), Marlene Wartenberg ( Director European Policy Office VIER PFOTEN), Paolo Dalla Villa (Unit 3G Animal Welfare European Commission)
© Natascha Dolezal
European expert round on companion animals demands better treatment of stray animals
In the frame of an expert workshop on stray animals in Europe, organised by the International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS and the Representation of the State Baden-Württemberg to the EU, representatives of the EU institutions, the Member States and relevant stakeholders declared the need for better protection of stray animals in Europe.
The ongoing mistreatments of stray animals in Europe, especially in Romania since September 2013, urge European decision makers to take action. This stands in contradiction to the Treaty of Lisbon where the principle of animal welfare is anchored in the status of animals as sentient beings, giving us humans full responsibility for the animals who are our fellow creatures.
The workshop aimed to bring together relevant decision makers and representatives from the Member States to discuss feasible and sustainable programmes around Europe to control canine and feline population, the respect of the right to live of these animals as well as human and animal health and welfare issues.
The participants agreed that the protection of the weakest members of our society is a characteristic European value and that the killing of unwanted healthy dogs and cats in Europe does not correspondend with our understanding of the human-animal relationship in Europe of the 21st century.
The happenings in Romania have been criticised heavily by all participants. The way how stray dogs are treated like at the moment in Romania stands in clear conflict to the Rule of Law and is infringing our European values.
That, in fact, there are effective, humane and sustainable ways to deal with the problem of unwanted stray animals, has been proven through several examples of other Member States like Belgium, Bulgaria and Italy. Thanks to the political will of these countries governments, they have national structured stray dog and stray cat programmes to reach a balanced number of animals. These programmes are always based on a multiannual plan inlcuding systematic birth control, veterinary care inlcuding vaccinations, mandatory identification and registration for all dogs and cats and close coopration with NGOs. This ‘responsible ownership’ package was the only accepted succesful strategy throughout all presentations.
The result of the workshop is a common declaration of all participants, asking the responsible actors of the EU institutions and the Member States to improve the protection and welfare of stray animals in Europe and public safety, and to fulfil their duties within the frame of their work.
Presentations of speakers
- Introduction and welcome – Dr. Cornelie Jäger, Animal Welfare Commissioner of the State Baden-Württemberg to the EU
- Animal Welfare and Health Policy of the EU – Dr. Andrea Gavinelli, Head of Unit G3 Animal Welfare DG SANCO
- The European Pet Convention – up to date? – Dr. Gieri Bolliger, Executive Officer of 'Tier im Recht'
- How to distinguish between wild and domestic animals – Prof. Dr. Kurt Kotrschal, Director Konrad Lorenz Research Station
- Stray population management in disaster relief situations – Dr. Paolo Dalla Villa, Unit G3 Animal Welfare DG SANCO
- Obstacles by the new law and in managing stray dog population in Greece – Irini Molfessi, President of the Pan-Hellenic Animal Welfare Foundation
- Stray dogs in Sofia – Maria Boyadjiyska, Deputy mayor of Sofia, Bulgaria
- The protection of cats under Italian law and the population management – Dr. Rosalba Matassa, Head of Animal Welfare Unit, Ministry of Health, Italy
- Map of municipality shelters, Romania – Sara Turetta, President of Save the Dogs Romania
- Presentation of the Odessa stray animals project in Ukraine – Frank Meuser, Head of Berlin Office, Deutscher Tierschutzbund e.V.
- The multiannual cat plan of Belgium – Dr. ir. Ester Peeters, Scientific advisor for the Animal Welfare Council Belgium