Belgian Presidency wants EU strategy on dog welfare


Belgium wants to use its EU presidency to underline the key societal role played by companion animals like dogs and cats, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister for Health and Social Affairs Laurette Onkelinx announced yesterday (9 September), expressing support for the development of an EU-wide animal welfare strategy.


Yesterday's launch of the CAROdog.eu – which stands for Companion Animal Responsible Ownership for Dogs in Europe – website came as the European Commission is putting together its second Animal Welfare Action Plan.

EU animal welfare legislation is currently governed by the first Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals, which came into force in 2006 and expires at the end of the year.

"During our country's presidency of the Council, we are underlining the important role of companion animals in civil society," said Onkelinx, speaking at the launch of a website on dog welfare in Brussels.

"Dog and cat overpopulation creates a lot of suffering for unwanted animals," she added, explaining that "sharing information and experience is the basis for every development in animal welfare, and here, for a Europe-wide solution and strategy to create an appropriate and responsible attitude by us humans towards animals".

Onkelinx pointed to the Treaty of Lisbon, Article 13 of which reads "the [European] Union and the member states shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals," as a possible basis for further EU action in this area.

Commission mulls legislation

Yesterday's conference came as the European Commission is working to draw up its second Animal Welfare Action Plan (2011-2015).

Denis Simonin, an animal welfare official in the Commission's health and consumer protection directorate, yesterday confirmed statements made earlier this year by EU Health Commissioner John Dalli that the EU executive was considering tabling specific legislation on the welfare of companion animals in its upcoming review.

"The health and welfare of dogs and cats is crucial to human welfare," Simonin said. "As there are no EU rules governing the protection of companion animals, the Commission is considering developing specific actions […] in the framework of its forthcoming animal welfare strategy," he added.

The CAROdog.eu website – which was initially created by animal welfare organisation Four Paws and the Istituto G. Caporale – is described as "a management database containing the most recent scientific and practical information regarding companion animals, including stray animals, in Europe".

The initial aim of the site, the editorial board of which the European Commission and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe are also members, is "to provide, generate and disseminate reliable knowledge about dog health and welfare in Europe, focusing on strategies against canine overpopulation".

It offers a comprehensive library of literature and scientific research on dog welfare, as well as a glossary of terms.


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