European Parliament calls for responsible dog management

Friday, 14 October, 2011
Brussels, Belgium
The European Parliament has adopted a Written Declaration calling on the Commission and Member States to develop comprehensive strategies for dog population management in the EU. The written declaration - which comes against a backdrop of horrific dog culls occurring in Romania and several eastern European candidate states, and increasing reports of illegal trade in sick and unregistered puppy mill puppies across borders - sends a clear message to the European Commission that it must act now to ensure that the welfare of dogs and cats is protected in the EU.

“IFAW is delighted with this achievement,” said Kate Nattrass Atema, IFAW’s Companion Animal Program Director. “IFAW was closely involved with the drafting of this Written Declaration and lobbied for its support because we believe it will lead to drastically improved welfare for the many of the estimated 120 million dogs and cats in the EU.”

This Written Declaration reinforces the message sent by the European Council during the Belgian Presidency at the end of 2010 when Council Conclusions on the welfare of cats and dogs were agreed. These conclusions called on the European Commission to include the welfare of companion animals in the second EU strategy for the protection and welfare of animals and represent a first step in developing a harmonised approach across the EU for dogs and cats. It also calls on the Commission to respond to Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (or Lisbon Treaty) which states that animals are sentient beings and that the EU and Member States must pay full regard to the welfare requirement of animals in law and policy.

“The lack of common laws facilitates the puppy trade across common borders from east to west,” continued Atema. “Up to 95% of imported dogs in the Netherlands come from eastern Europe where standards are low, raising puppies in deplorable conditions is cheap, and rabies and other zoonotic diseases are not well managed in the dog population. This declaration will help us address these appalling conditions and achieve healthy, balanced communities.”

IFAW believes that communities will have healthy, balanced companion animal populations when every animal has what it refers to as “adequate guardianship”. Adequate guardianship means that every animal, no matter by whom or for what purpose it is owned, has access to food, water, shelter, exercise, companionship and basic veterinary care to maintain its health and well-being. Stray dogs, which are usually “owned” by the municipality, can also receive adequate guardianship so long as there is an individual or group of individuals that ensures these conditions. Adequate guardianship also ensures that dogs – owned or stray – do not become a threat to public health and safety.


About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos and video are available at

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