25.04.2018 – EU Commissioner for Health, Vytenis Andriukaitis: “We need to re-recognize that animals are sentient beings.”

© Adrian Almasan - www.adrianalmasan.com

FOUR PAWS hosted the first International Animal Welfare Summit in Vienna, Austria

Brussels, 25th April 2018 – International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS hosted the first International Animal Welfare Summit in Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna on 24th April. The theme of the event: “Animal welfare – question of the future or luxury problem?”. More than 300 guests were in attendance to hear speeches and discussions from experts from the fields of science, nutrition, economics and arts.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen took over the patronage for this first of its kind event. In his humorous speech, he spoke of animal welfare "as a matter of the heart". Animal welfare was "thank goodness no longer a luxury topic". Rather, it is "an existential question that concerns us all." The summit is a step in the right direction: "Today we will ask ourselves questions and try to find solutions for them together."

European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, also emphasized the importance of animal welfare: "We need to re-recognize that animals are sentient beings." Andriukaitis spoke of the EU's recent achievements in animal welfare, but also on the huge challenges yet to come.

Host Heli Dungler, founder and president of FOUR PAWS, addressed a bitter truth in his welcoming speech: Over the next 30-40 years, the number of farm animals on earth will double. The emergent countries in particular will greatly increase their meat consumption. Dungler warned against the effects of this development not only on animal welfare, but also on the environment.

In his eagerly awaited interview on stage, Ai Weiwei, Chinese conceptual artist and human rights activist, talked about his personal connection with FOUR PAWS. When he did a research piece on refugees in Gaza a few years ago, he came across a tiger rescued by FOUR PAWS. The animal was trapped in an abandoned zoo in Gaza. Animals, according to Ai Weiwei, have always been part of human life – and have been victims of humans for far too long. It's time to reflect on human values ​​and show more responsibility to all living creatures, he added.

Renowned author, activist and scientist Raj Patel took over with his keynote on the topic "A Planet for All?". In his lively and entertaining talk, he focused on cheap mass production with all its devastating effects on humans, animals and the environment.

The present Jordanian Princess Alia, founder of the "Princess Alia Foundation" and long-time companion of FOUR PAWS, was appointed to a special ambassador of the Animal Welfare Summit.

More information about the IAWS 2018 can be found here: http://www.iaws2018.org.

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An official answer from EU Commissioner Andriukaitis regarding online trade of companion animals

The EU Commission has no intention of regulating the online pet trade

Brussels, 05.07.2017. Concern about pet health and welfare due to unregulated online trade was at the heart of a joint letter sent early June to EU Commissioners Andriukaitis (DG SANTE) and Ansip (Vice-President of the EU Commission and in charge of the EU Digital Single Market) by the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA) and FOUR PAWS International. In particular, the letter called upon the EU Commission to establish through EU legislation, eight measures aiming to enable responsible selling and buying of animals online, and more precisely to improve the traceability of sellers and of the animals being sold.

In reply to the letter, the Commissioners recalled the existence of current relevant legislation, in particular those covering the commercial and non-commercial movement of pets’ legislation, the (new) Animal Health Law and the E-Commerce Directive.

National enforcement "not enough"

Pierre Sultana, Director of European Policy Office commented: "We appreciate that EU Commissioner Andriukaitis made clear that under the new Animal Health Law, any keeper of dogs and cats for commercial purposes will be required to register his establishment, even if he is not the owner and keeps the animals only on a temporary basis. However, it is disappointing that the EU Commission doesn't intend to go further and will be relying on the Member States for proper enforcement of this new legislation. Research into 42 classified ad sites in 10 countries carried out by FOUR PAWS has clearly revealed that this is not enough." Indeed, several loopholes in EU legislation and its enforcement have been identified by FOUR PAWS' Pet Deception Campaign (www.petdeception.org) and by the joint FVE, UEVP and FECAVA report "Working towards responsible dog trade”.

Rafael Laguens, President of the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE): “Citizens expect the EU to play an important role in helping Member States to protect the licit economy against financial and tax fraud, unfair competition and organised crime behind Illegal trade of companion animals.  Especially as this trade is more than just a financial deal. It deals with living beings, caring owners and relates to cross-border spread of infectious and zoonotic diseases, consumer protection and animal cruelty. This is why regulation of online animal trade is imperative and action should be taken urgently.

President Jerzy Gawor, FECAVA president stressed: "Profit should never take priority over animal health and welfare or public health and should never harm the consumer. Therefore, FECAVA urges EU legislators to regulate standards of dog breeding and trade, including over the internet. To facilitate enforcement and to protect consumers, public health as well as animal health and welfare, we furthermore ask to render the identification and registration of dogs mandatory throughout Europe."

Organisations call for "seller registration"

Julie Sanders, Director of Companion Animals Programme added: "With the switch from newspaper ads to the internet, sellers have been able to reach a much wider audience of potential buyers, on both a national and international level. Furthermore, sellers do not have to register with classified ad sites which means that they remain anonymous this has led to a big increase in illegal activities such as the selling of illegally imported puppies and exotic animals."

FVE, FECAVA and FOUR PAWS International are therefore calling for classified ad sites to introduce seller registration on their sites to protect both the public and the animals being sold.

Protection for animals and buyers

The organisations will continue to lobby for a mandatory registration system as part of the new Animal Health law, where breeders and sellers are not only registered but are also legally obliged to show their registration number, when selling an animal online. In addition, the registration details should be held on a publicly accessible database, so that buyers can check if the breeder or seller they are buying from is registered. This will mean that buyers and sellers can be traced so that consumers have some protection.

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Notes

* VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS is an Austrian-based international animal welfare organisation with offices in ten European countries, South Africa, the USA, Thailand and Australia. With its European Policy Office, VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS has a long standing experience in consultancy on Animal Welfare in Brussels.

Press Contact:

VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS,  European Policy Office Avenue de la Renaissance 19/11, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Email: office@vier-pfoten.eu

Phone: 0032-2-7400888

Websites: www.vier-pfoten.eu  www.carodog.eu, www.carocat.eu, http://lawyersforanimalprotection.eu

* The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) is an umbrella organisation of 44 veterinary organisations from 38 European countries, representing a total of around 240 000 veterinarians. The FVE strives to promote animal health, animal welfare and public health across Europe. www.fve.org

* The Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA) is the platform for the promotion of the professional development and representation of companion animal veterinarians in Europe. Founded in 1990, it currently has 40 national member associations and 13 associate member associations. FECAVA represents over 30,000 companion animal practitioners throughout Europe. www.fecava.org

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