Aanifeira had the privilege of attending the very 1st Conference on the Welfare of Dogs and Cats in the EU held on October 28th at the Charlemagne Building in Brussels. The conference, presented by the European Commission and the Lithuanian Presidency and supported by Eurogroup for Animals, The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe and VIER PFOTEN International is aimed at “Building a Europe that cares for companion animals”.
With an astounding over 100 million dogs and cats in the European Union, for many of these animals they are not just a companion but a source of income. From food and medicines to cosmetics and luxuries, a major industry has been developed, dedicated to the breeding and upkeep of companion animals. From the rise in animal commerce other problems have evolved i.e. genetic selection, puppy farming, mutilations and inhumane disposal which have far reaching consequences for pet welfare, public health and consumer protection in the EU. Unfortunately there is no harmonized legislation that addresses the welfare concerns of these animals.
In drawing EU member countries together, this first conference aimed at providing all stakeholders: government authorities, NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) and those with a professional or private interest, to join forces in discussing and reflecting on issues relating to companion animal welfare with a view to establishing a means of identifying and tackling the key issues. The conference provided a starting block for a study into the welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices giving the EU commission an opportunity of considering what further action is necessary to improve animal welfare.
Dog and cat trade is currently regulated by EU animal and public health rules but no specific ER legalisation addressing welfare related issues exists and their protection remains under the responsibility of Member States. In parallel, existing national and EU rules applicable to dogs and cats are not necessarily properly implemented.
We in Portugal look forward to seeing what first steps this congress will bring in battling with the rising problem of strays, backyard breeders, unlicensed animals, irresponsible ownership and health issues.
The presentations at the conference were organised around three major themes:
- Legislation on companion animals in Europe
- Breeding and trade of companion animals: business as usual?
- Building a Europe that cares for companion animals: tools and perspectives.