European Parliament adopts dog protocol, but backs away from farm animal welfare

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  October 2011:

BRUSSELS–The European Parlia-ment on October 13,  2011 ratified a Written Declaration on Dog Population Management in the European Union which “calls on Member States to adopt comprehensive dog population management strategies,”  to “include measures such as dog control and anti-cruelty laws,  support for veterinary procedures including rabies vaccination and sterilization as necessary to control the number of unwanted dogs,  and the promotion of responsible pet ownership.”

The declaration also seeks “to encourage Member States to introduce mandatory identification and registration of every dog,  by means of European Union-wide compatible systems, in order to avoid the spread of diseases.”
The preamble to the recommendations recognizes that “whereas,  animals are sentient beings,  the EU and Member States must pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals,” expressing concern that “in some Member States, stray animals pose a threat to public health and safety,  and some Member States are taking extreme measures against stray animals.”

Adoption of the Written Declaration required the signatures of 369 of 736 European Parliament delegates.  The declaration was introduced by delegates Octavia Sarbu and Adina-Ioana Valean of Romania,  Elisabeth Jeggle of Germany,  Raul Romeva i Rueda of Spain,   and Janusz Wojciechowski of Poland.

“The adoption of this statement is a very important step in stray animal welfare.  The animals from the countries with dramatic situations like Romania can hope!” e-mailed Romanian animal advocate and nuclear scientist Carmen Arsene to ANIMAL PEOPLE.

“We are extremely grateful to the European Parliament for recognizing the current difficulties experienced by not having a coordinated approach to companion animals across the European Union,” said Eurogroup for Animals director Sonja Van Tichelen,  “It is vital,”  Van Tichelen said,  “that we have a co-ordinated policy approach to prevent animal suffering and halt the spread of disease and illegal trade.”

Farm animals
Eurogroup for Animals was “extremely disappointed” a day earlier when a published proposed revision of the EU Common Agriculture Policy “missed the opportunity to address the animal welfare problems caused by very intensive systems of agricultural production,”  said a Eurogroup media statement.

“No basic payment is foreseen to be given to farmers to improve animal welfare and in fact animal welfare is no longer stated clearly as an objective of the Common Agriculture Policy,  as it was previously in 2003,”  commented Eurogroup policy officer Véronique Schmit.

The proposed Common Agriculture Policy revision “doesn’t include any instruments to reward farmers who correctly apply animal welfare-related directives,  and provides no sanction that is sufficiently dissuasive to those who fail to respect the European law,”  Schmit said.  Schmit further objected that “The future Common Agriculture Policy will continue to subsidize the export of live cattle, with the associated problems caused by long distance transport.”

The proposed new Common Agri-culture Policy was released six days after European Parliament commissioner for health and consumer policy John Dalli,  of Malta,  said that as the commissioner who holds the animal welfare portfolio,  he would not delay implementation of an EU rule which requires that battery cages for laying hens must be replaced by much larger “colony cages” by the start of 2012.   At the same time,  Dalli also said that he is seeking a “solution” for producers who have not changed their cages to allow them to continue to sell eggs.

“Rewarding non-compliance in any form sets a dangerous precedent for future deadlines,” Eurogroup responded,  “in particular the upcoming ban on the use of individual stalls for pregnant sows,”  scheduled to take effect in 2013.  “If producers can continue to make money with illegal production,”  Eurogroup said,  “it will reward non-compliance and will  represent a de facto postponement of the ban.”

Recent figures show that 17 million European laying hens will still be in battery cages after January 1,   2012,  Eurogroup said. Belgium,  Bulgaria,  Cyprus,  Finland, Poland, Portugal and Romania have reported to Dalli that their egg production industries will still be in transition to colony caging,  despite the 12-year phase-in time provided by the EU legislation that nominally banned battery caging.  Hungary, Italy,  Latvia,  Estonia and Greece “have not provided any information on the current situation,”  Eurogroup said.

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