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European roundtable experts demand better treatment of stray animals

On April 10, 2014, at the invitation of animal welfare representatives from the State Baden-Württemberg and FOUR PAWS, 60 experts from all over Europe, gathered for a roundtable meeting, in an effort to achieve a consensus on the issue of stray dogs and proposed a catalogue of measures that demands better protection for them.

© FOUR PAWS / Anca Tomescu

The ongoing mistreatment of stray animals in Europe, especially in Romania, since September 2013, are a cause of concern. The expert roundtable in representation of the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg to the European Union, has discussed, with decision makers from the European Commission, the European Parliament, member states, veterinary professionals, ethology and animal welfare organisations,  possible and sustainable programmes to control dog and cat populations. It was agreed that the animals’ right to live, as well as the health of humans and animals, should be protected and that this can only be ensured by taking respective measures on various levels in Europe – in Pan-Europe, the European Union and on a national level.


First, the experts declared: The abuse of animals is in basic contradiction to art. 13 in the Treaty of Lisbon, where the principle of animal welfare is established by the status of animals as sentient beings, giving us humans full responsibility for the animals who are dependent on us and who are our fellow creatures. Moreover, they agreed in the following points:


  • Protection of the weakest – the protection of the weakest members of our society is a characteristic European value and an aspect of European culture. The deliberate killing of unwanted healthy dogs and cats in Europe, in general, is not consistent with this basic principle;
  • Dogs are not wild animals – they accompany man in having the longest history of domestication among all animals. Even if dogs live in the streets and have offspring, they remain domestic animals biologically and are basically different from wild animals;
  • To build a good relationship is possible – if all people in authority cooperate constructively and are solution-oriented on various levels;
  • Health of humans and animals are interrelated – therefore sustainable problem-solving approaches are needed in the interest of both humans and animals;
  • Develop good approaches – the Pet Convention from 1987, which regulates how to deal with stray animals, needs to be updated and implemented more specifically by the signatory states;


There are indeed, effective, humane and sustainable possibilities to solve the issue of an overpopulation of stray animals – this has been shown by good examples from member states, such as Belgium, Bulgaria or Italy. Thanks to local politics, well-structured national, regional and local programmes (long and short term orientated) exist, to control an appropriate number of animals. These programmes are based upon clear, legal regulations, systematically-approached birth control and further preventive veterinary measures, mandatory identification and registration of all dogs and cats, a culture of adoption, as well as various public relations activities. These programs also require close cooperation of all parties involved, (i.e. the public sector, animal welfare organisations and local veterinary professionals).


The responsible ownership principle, which has been supported by FOUR PAWS since 2008, with the website, is the only way to guarantee a good, long term relationship between humans and animals, including strays.


Find the conclusio here.