Joining forces across an ocean to protect animals
Animal welfare organisations from the US and Europe are meeting in Washington, D.C. for the 3rd meeting of the Transatlantic Animal Welfare Council (TAWC).
Set up in 2009 this platform brings together the world’s leading animal welfare NGOs to exchange experiences, knowledge and expertise on animal welfare (link to agenda and participants list).
Cindy Milburn from the International Fund for Animal Welfare will chair the meeting and welcome speakers from the US Trade Department, the European Commission delegation in Washington and a representative of the Transatlantic Consumer dialogue.
The consumer organisations launched their transatlantic platform in 1998 and have been providing policy recommendations to the US and EU governments for some time now.
The first meetings of the TAWC were focused on understanding how the EU and the US deal with animal welfare. What are the differences and similarities of how people, politicians, scientists, consumers and other actors consider and treat animals? Does culture determine if we are kind or cruel to animals? Can we make presumptions depending on which side of the ocean a person lives?
Being an animal advocate and campaigner I am fascinated about these questions, and in particular how we can change behavior and perceptions. Regardless of where you live, people are people and animals are animals. Whether in Brussels or Boston, all animals can feel pain and fear. In either Madrid or Montana people care for their pets and are outraged when faced with animal cruelty.
I once thought Americans were very different from Europeans but I realized quickly that there can be far more differences between an Italian and a Finn than a European and an American.
You can read more about how similar we are in Peter Baldwin’s excellent book, “The Narcissism of Minor Differences: how America and Europe are alike”.
This idea of differences and common ground is the main “raison d’être” of the Transatlantic Animal Welfare Council.
What can we learn from each other and how can we cooperate and help each other to help animals in the US, in the EU and the rest of the world?
-Sonja Van Tichelen