update: conclusions and the video of the conference are now available here: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/information_sources/ahw_events_en.htm
The European Commission’s first conference on the welfare of dogs and cats, “Building a Europe that cares for companion animals”, took place yesterday in Brussels, with an encouraging consensus and perspective. VIER PFOTEN welcomes this door-opening event.
Brussels/City, 29 th October 2013. The goal of the conference was to identify and tackle the key issues concerning dogs and cats in the European Union. For this purpose more than 470 stakeholders from government authorities, animal welfare organisations and those with a professional and personal interest came together yesterday to discuss and reflect on practical considerations relating to companion animal welfare.
With over a hundred million owned animals, dogs and cats are the most popular companion animals in Europe, kept for companionship or services. The growing number of these animals has generated a major industry including, for example, pet food and medicines. Unfortunately, there is also another kind of grey and black market of pure breed puppies produced in so-called “puppy mills” under the poorest conditions, and an increasing illegal trade causing severe problems for animal health and welfare, for public health and for consumers, and creating market distortion. Moreover, in some Member States there are severe problems of uncontrolled reproduction of abandoned dogs and cats.
While the EU has no legal competences in this last field, the first stage in improving the commercial and health aspects of dogs and cats will be a study. However, the EU can develop further measures to provide the Member States with tools to create a common European understanding of animal welfare and responsible ownership, such as a compatible system of Identification and Registration in Europe.
Some well-functioning models of national legislation and national organisation relating to companion animals were pointed out, and an urgent need for measures to put into practice the principle of “Responsible Ownership” emerged clearly. These measures included: precise legislation with clear competences, information and education, a mandatory Identification and Registration system, nationwide mid- and long-term neutering programs for population control instead of killing, rules for shelters and for keeping companion animals, and a culture of adoption instead of buying animals from dubious sources.
“The recent Animal Welfare Law of Lithuania is the first national animal welfare law linked expressly to the European principle laid down in Art. 13 Lisbon Treaty. A responsible ownership for all animals is one of the effects of this ethical principle. As dogs and cats are the animals living closest to humans, a European culture of Responsible Ownership can be developed well by starting with these animals and implementing a Europe-wide compatible system of Identification and Registration for all dogs.” stated Marlene Wartenberg, Director of VIER PFOTEN’s European Policy Office in Brussels.
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