​International experts propose a roadmap to the EU Commission on improving the welfare of dogs and cats in the EU.


VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS European Policy Office


Brussels, 23.06.2016

​International experts propose a roadmap to the EU Commission on improving the welfare of dogs and cats in the EU.

“Identification, vaccination and movement of dogs and cats in the EU: How to improve the Pet Passport and TRACES systems?” conference 

Continue reading ​International experts propose a roadmap to the EU Commission on improving the welfare of dogs and cats in the EU.


Outrage in UK as the Government as the Government released details of the 3.87million experiments carried out on mammals, birds and fish last year

On October 22nd 2015, the UK government released details of the 3.87million experiments carried out on mammals, birds and fish last year. These information has lead to the angriness of animal welfare organisations across UK.

The experiments were described as causing “'unacceptable levels of suffering” and the Government came under attack for failing to reduce the numbers of animals used in laboratories

More on http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/614011/Outrage-millions-experiments-carried-out-animals


08.10.2015 EU Parliament Intergroup session: Stray dogs in Romania

The next session of the Intergroup on the welfare and conservation of animals will focus on Stray Dogs in Romania. VIER PFOTEN and its projects CAROdog and CAROcat will be represented

Date : Thursday 8 October 2015– 10.00-11.00 hrs

Agenda and more information: http://www.animalwelfareintergroup.eu/meetings/


The return of the wolf: a Conference in the EU Parliament

From a thorough identification of the challenges rising from the Human-Wolf relationship to a difficult definition of suitable and sustainable solutions.

A conference entitled “the Return of the Wolf to the European Landscape: Challenges and Solutions” was organised by the Intergroup for the biodiversity, hunting and countryside in the European Parliament yesterday.

During the latter, main concerns and issues linked to the wolves populations presence and development within the EU were raised. In particular, and as suggested in the title of the conference, emphasis has been laid on problems encountered by EU regions faced with the return of wolves decades, if not centuries, after their eradication by Human Beings.

At this stage, it is important to insist on the fact that, contrary to a common belief, wolves returned to their former territories most of the time on their own and no volontary reintroduction of the species was involved. Wolves used to be a natural big carnivore in Europe, endemic to some specific regions.

The whole panel seemed to agree on what the core challenges consisted in. First of all, it has been consistently acknowledged that wolves suffer from a low social acceptance, especially compared to other big carnivores in Europe. Several reasons account for this. From an historic perspective, wolves were always depicted as pests. This perception hasn't shifted for an important range of the European citizens. It has even been fed by media's focuses on information, sometimes inaccurate, leading to an emotional response of the population instead of rising its acute awareness (e. g. showing an adolescent pretending, without concrete proof, he was attacked by a wolves pack).

The increase of close-contacts between wolves and humans (e. g. 77 wolves closer than 25 meters from human beings were reported in Germany last year) make the Wolf more visible and is also a source of fear among people, even though the risk of an attack is assessed as very low.

The return of the Wolf also generates troubles with both farmers and hunters, respectively because of livestocks and hunting preys depredation, which, according to them, gives rise to a considerable loss of income for some of these professionals (which are actually most of the time compensated through States subsidies). It is very unfortunate that some hunters do not only fear for their preys but also sometimes encourage the wolf spreading in order to be able to hunt them in a near future, as suggested by a participant.

In the specific case of farmers, the return of the wolves in areas where they had disappeared for a while has posed difficulties since their infrastructures or farming methods are not adapted to wolf's depredation anymore. On the other side, this commonly spread scare and lack of adaptation don't always reach areas which have been continuously Wolf territories. There, Wolves and Humans have always been sharing lands and inhabitants have adapted their lives and infrastructures in order to prevent damages from wolves. Henceforth, the coexistence of wolves and locals is peaceful and the acceptance of the wolves much higher.

In the end, all of these combined factors have resulted in a more systematic culling policy from the public institutions (most of the time through a mean of derogation to the Birds and Habitats Directive) and in an escalation of illegal killing of wolves, leading sometimes to the decrease of a population under the favourable conservation status level (e. g. in Finland).

But there are not only opponents to the Wolf's return, fierce defenders of its cause are also numerous. For instance, in Germany where the Wolf has returned for more than a decade now and its population increasing significantly every year (around 30%), a Nature And Biodiversity Union (hereafter NABU) survey has highlighted that nearly 80% of the overall population welcomed this return, when merely 17% opposed it.

However, a lack of communication, knowledge and understanding resulted in conflicts, sometimes violent,  between pro- and contra-Wolves.

The Challenges being defined, Solutions were equally to be discussed. Consensus was reached on two points. First of all, there need to be more scientifically-evidenced-based decisions alongside with dissemination of these information amongst the population. The public policy-makers decisions as well as the public opinion should not originate from spontaneous emotional reaction mostly drawn by the media. Solid scientific data, as a panelist suggested, are the core clue for understanding the Wolves behaviours, reassuring the population as well as finding suitable solutions to tackle the problems that have arisen.

Then, a real dialogue should be established between the several stakeholders (namely public institutions, hunters, farmers and representatives of environment, biodiversity or animal welfare organisations) in order to think and find out compromised solutions. In this particular regard, the European Commission has created in 2014 a platform on coexistence between People and Large carnivores. This incentive should be rewarded though it is deplorable that COPA COGECA, the main representative committee for farmers at the EU level, has left the table (for unknown reasons). It is all the more unfortunate that their core solutions' proposal during the conference was actually to set up a genuine dialogue between all stakeholders.

Regarding solutions proposed to the concerns here-above mentioned, wolves culling was sadly presented as a viable remedy by a large range of both the panel and the participants. Unfortunately, other means of regulation and resolution of the Human-wolf conflict (e. g. through compensation, a  Catch-Neuter-Release policy or prevention measures) were barely mentioned through the interventions and debates, if at all.

According to Four Paws, solutions for this conflict were mostly to be found amongst these measures, and not through massive wolves culling. A long term and holistic approach should indeed be developed. For instance, it is undeniable than in some areas Wolves attack livestocks because their prey base has become too narrow or the amount of preys available too scarce, due to Human activities (urban expansion, excessive hunting). To this regard, human activities should also been treated as a factor of wolves behaviours towards livestock and the prey base should be therefore improved. This is one of the key actions for large carnivores (more specifically concerning the Carpathian Wolf population) that the European Commission has launched this year.

Wolves culling has never been proved as a viable solution and do not prevent from more damages in years following the culling (see: Alberto Fernandez-Gil, “management and conservation of wolves in Asturias, NW Spain: is population control justified for handling damage-related conflicts” (see Carnivore Damage Prevention news, n°10, spring 2014, p10-14).

More on the event on: http://www.face.eu/about-us/resources/events/the-return-of-the-wolf-to-the-european-landscape-challenges-and-solutions


Official answer of the EU Commission to the ECI "stop vivisection"

The Commission on the Stop Vivisection ECI: “With the goal of phasing out animal testing, Directive 2010/63/EU is still needed to protect the animals currently in laboratories”

The European Commission stresses the importance of Directive 2010/63/EU to guard animals

The European Commission released today, June 3rd 2015, a communication in response to the European Citizens’ Initiative “Stop Vivisection”. The Initiative was brought by 1.173.130 concerned citizens throughout the EU, and called for the repeal of Directive 2010/63 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, in order to cease animal experimentation. The European Commission, after a thorough examination of the situation, decided to keep the current legislation. Major experts, who have been working on this field for decades, have come together and stressed that, while working towards the goal of full replacement of animals, Directive 2010/63/EU is an indispensable tool to protect those animals still in use. Science is not yet developed enough to work effectively in all areas without animal testing, and while its progress makes major steps in that direction, a legislation protecting those animals currently in use is indispensible.

The Commission highlighted its next steps towards the goal of ceasing animal experimentation: it will stay in close dialogue with the scientific community at both EU and international level to identify alternative test methods, organise a conference by end 2016 on how to advance towards the goal of phasing out animal testing, and actively monitor compliance with Directive 2010/63/EU. Not only will these actions be put in place, but also the Europen Commission will cooperate at the international level with several countries worldwide within the framework of the International Cooperation on Alternative Test Methods (ICATM) and the International Collaboration on Cosmetics Regulation (ICCR).

All winds are favourable for the sailor who knows where to go.


More information is available on: http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/documents/43



EU WRITTEN DECLARATION on the creation of a one-stop shop for animal welfare

WRITTEN DECLARATION on the creation of a one-stop shop for animal welfare
Registered on 27.05.2015 by Jacqueline FOSTER , Janusz WOJCIECHOWSKI , Anja HAZEKAMP , Marlene MIZZI , Jörg LEICHTFRIED , Pavel POC , Marit PAULSEN , Catherine BEARDER , Ivo VAJGL , Keith TAYLOR , Franc BOGOVIČ

Date opened : 27-05-2015 
Lapse date : 27-08-2015 

1.   Protecting and enhancing animal welfare is a fundamental mark of a civilised society, yet in too many Member States the issue is not given sufficient credence and existing standards are not achieved.

2.   This reflects a fragmented division of responsibilities, which is often confusing and opaque to those seeking information, advice and guidance on enforcement of agreed standards.

3.   This was confirmed by the Commission’s Impact Assessment of the European Union Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015, which called for more effective enforcement and greater coherence of policy for all animal species, regardless of their circumstances or location.

4.   The Commission is hereby called upon to establish a one-stop shop to streamline animal welfare concerns under the existing directorates-general structure and to act as a single and central point of information and expertise.

5.   The Commission should also task the one-stop shop with responding quickly to information received from the public and interested parties in order to ensure that cases of non-compliance with requirements are directed to, and dealt with by, the appropriate Commission officials within seven days.

6.   This declaration, together with the names of the signatories, is forwarded to the Commission.

More on http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-%2f%2fEP%2f%2fNONSGML%2bWDECL%2bP8-DCL-2015-0022%2b0%2bDOC%2bPDF%2bV0%2f%2fEN


Commission requests Austria to act on bird protection

The European Commission has requested Austria to bring its hunting legislation into line with EU legislation on the protection of wild birds. The Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) prohibits any hunting of migratory birds listed in Annex II during their period of reproduction or during their return to their rearing grounds. Member States may derogate from this requirement only in the absence of other satisfactory solutions and provided that the population of the species concerned is maintained at a satisfactory level. The Austrian provinces of Burgenland, Lower Austria and Salzburg are allowing a hunt for Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) from 1 March until 15 April, and specifically for male Woodcock during their reproductive courtship flights. The Commission first raised its concerns in a letter of formal notice in March 2014. As the conditions for derogation have not been met and spring hunting of this species is in violation of the Birds Directive, the Commission is now sending a reasoned opinion. If Austria fails to act within two months, the case may be referred to the EU Court of Justice.

(For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172)


New rules on labelling of fresh, chilled or frozen meat from sheep, goats, pigs and poultry

Up from 1 April 2015, the new rules on labelling of fresh, chilled or frozen meat from sheep, goats, pigs and poultry implemented by Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food information to consumers have come into force.

These new rules require the mandatory labelling of "place of rearing" and "place of slaughter" for fresh, chilled or frozen meats from sheep, goats, pigs and poultry.

More on http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:32011R1169


ECHR: information on management of stray dogs by public authorities are of general interest and should be freely accessible


Today, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has given a judgment regarding Bulgarian stray dogs and the right to acccess to information of Animal Welfare NGOs.


Summary of Facts:

In the case Guseva v/ Bulgaria, the applicant, an animal welfare NGO is complaining about the refusal of the municipality of Vidin to provide information about an agreement concluded between the municipality and the municipal company “Cleanliness” EOOD, for the collecting of stray animals on the territory of Vidin municipality.

Facing the refusal of the mayor of the municipality, the organisation has started a legal complaint.

One year later, the same organisation asked to the municipality of Vidin information concerning the annual statistics for 2001 and 2002 about animals held in an animal shelter called “Municipal Care". Once again, the municipality refused to provide the requested information.

In a third demand, few months laters, the animal welfare organisation asked for information regarding public procurement procedure which had been organised by the mayor and aimed at reducing the number of stray dogs in Vidin. The applicant wanted to know the number of the organisations which had tendered for a contract with the municipality, which ones had passed the pre-selection stage, and – in respect of those who have – the following information: the type and number of qualified staff they employed; the infrastructure and facilities they had for humane catching and transportation of dogs; the proof they had presented for their capacity to deliver quality services; and, the price they asked for providing the services. Once again, the municipality refused to provide the requested information.


The procedure in front of the Court

After several complaints and legal procedures with no real result, the applicants decided to make an appeal in front of the Court of Human Rights for infringement of its right to information and to its right to obtain an effective remedy.

The Court concludes to the violation by Bulgaria of Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Article 13 (Right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention of Human Rights. The State of Bulgaria will have to cover the applicant's justice fees and also to pay a remedy of 5,000€.

The Court based its judgment on the fact that information regarding the management of stray animals by the public authorities are information of general interest, meaning that anyone should be able to acceed to this information.


Please read the full text of the judgment on http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/fra/pages/search.aspx?i=001-152416


Animal welfare missing in recent European Parliament vote for labelling of processed meat

Following the EU Directive 1169/2001 which will require labelling of fresh meat products according to where the animals were raised and slaughtered as of April 2015; the Parliament has voted for a similar step towards labelling of processed meat and has requested the European Commission to take preparatory steps towards this ends. Products with processed meat would then be labelled with the country of origin of its primary ingredients of animal origin.


“Labelling according to country of origin for both fresh and processed meat can help in establishing basic traceability and transparency in the food supply chain. In this regards, we welcome European Parliament’s initiative and encourage the Commission to take actions on this subject. However, from an animal welfare viewpoint and in order to really help consumers make informed choices, the label should include location of birth of the animals, the housing system in which the animals were raised and slaughter information. For this reason FOUR PAWS encourages and will continue to encourage voluntary labels which go beyond Parliament’s suggestions and recommend the Commission to come with an ambitious proposal in this sense” said Pierre Sultana, Director of the FOUR PAWS European Policy Office in Brussels. FOUR PAWS calls on the Commission to take this into consideration in its preparatory work towards labelling of meat products.