by Action Against Poisoning

-----Original Message-----
From: Action Against Poisoning
Sent: January 2005 23:08

To the Eurogroup for Animal Welfare
The Hague, January 2005

Subject:protection of stray animals

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Action Against Poisoning fights animal poisoning in particular and supports animal protection in general. In our experience especially stray animals fall victim to poisoning or (often lethal) violence. We are informed that "Even within the European Union the competence to deal with stray dogs and cats remains at the Member State level."
We would like you to take a few arguments in consideration to extort EU commitment on this subject.

The competence to deal with stray animals is trusted to the member states. Particularly a number of Mediterranean (candidate) member states have a disputable reputation on handling stray animal problems. A recent highlight were the stray animal "killing fields" on Olympic Games locations in the Athens region.
Although humane solutions for stray problems are presented regularly, the execution
turns out to be extinction. Poisoning is the cheapest and most common method.
An example of such deception was the Olympic Committee PR notice stating that stray animals were collected and housed in new shelters. When we asked where these shelters were situated we did not receive an answer. We have not received information that those shelters have ever been built; we have been informed that stray animals have been killed. Other examples of government approved animal abuse are the extermination of earmarked sterilized dogs in Turkey and toleration of animal cruelty in Portugal. These are a few examples of public interference: authorities that kill or stand by and watch.

If animal protection laws exist in such countries, those laws are not enforced. Quite understandable when poisoning or lethal abuse of an animal is only a slight offence punishable with a fine of a few Euros. A trifle for which police officials either flatly refuse to file a report or do not supply a copy. No files leads to no registration. So statistically there is no poisoning problem in Portugal although half (!) of the Portuguese we spoke about the subject have experienced poisoning of pets or stray animals in their direct surrounding.

In short, because of systematic violation of animal rights the protection of stray animals cannot in general be left in the hands of "the member states". We also think that the keeping qualities of the "culture & tradition" excuses for European aloofness have expired.

It strikes us that international organizations restrict their animal protection efforts to wild animals and domestic animals including cattle. We note that wild animals can care for themselves within their habitat. Domestic animals are cared for by their owners. It is sad to see that stray animals are denied that protection categorically. Sad as they are pre-eminently the category that needs such support and protection as they are (the offspring from) abandoned domestic animals that were and very much still are dependant on human care for food, shelter and health.

A society organizes and supplies the kind of care and protection for its civilians, infrastructure, nature etc. that cannot be organized and financed on the personal level. It is alarming and offensive that the protection of stray animals is left over to private initiative. We see a priceless handful of private persons - spending their money and energy on assistance and costly veterinary care - burn out. We object to abundant public funds flowing towards animals that enjoy constant care whilst the welfare of stray animals is lacking such subsidies. Obviously governmental policies are restricted to human self-interest related to economy and public health.

In short, on EU- as well as on member state level there is much work to be done. We hope that you can change the everlasting alarming situation for stray animals. We gladly offer our assistance wherever needed and possible. We await your answer.

With kind regards,

Action Against Poisoning

From: "Info"
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 13:51:06 +0100
To: Action Against Poisoning
Subject: RE: English translation

Thank you for sending me an English translation of your e-mail. I did not have time to answer until now, and I will try to go through the different points you mentioned.

The lack of EU competence to deal with companion animals comes from the fact that there is no legal basis in the Treaty to establish laws purely with an animal welfare objective. The existing animal welfare legislation is based on articles of the Treaty which relate to other subjects, such as agriculture (for farm animals), internal market (for lab animals) or environment. So the fundamental reason is that from a legal point of view the EU does not have the power to establish legislation on the welfare of companion animals. I agree with you that the exceptions to the protocol on animal welfare have made possible inacceptable practices to continue, such as bullfighting or ritual slaughter. I attach a chapter of our revised publication "Analysis of Major Areas of Concern for Animal Welfare in Europe" on the Treaty and the legal basis for EU legislation on animal welfare.

On the other end, the Council of Europe has established a Convention on the protection of pet animals which has been ratified by a number of countries, but not all the EU MS. The countries which have ratified it are supposed to respect it, although there is no enforcement mechanism. But it is a good tool to make pression on them. You can find the text of the Convention and the list of ratifications at: <>

Concerning the enforcement of laws at national level, again it is the responsibility of the MS. Even for EU laws, the MS are responsible for their application and lack of enforcement is also a big problem (see with the transport of live animals for example). Even when the Commission starts an infringement procedure against a MS, it takes a lot of time to result in judgement and even then, the MS frequently ignore the sentence.

I don't agree with your perception that international organisations restrict their efforts to wild and farm animals. Our observer, WSPA, works on dogs and cats too. Several of our member organisations have an international programme where they deal with companion animals too: RSPCA in the UK, FBB in France, HSI in the US (International section of the HSUS, also a Eurogroup observer). IFAW, which is traditionnally working more on wildlife, also has a programme on the protection of dogs. Furthermore, we are a federation of national organisations which all work on companion animals.

I would like to finish my answer by an example. You have probably heard about the debate on cat and dog fur. Although there is an international trade dimension, the issue is related to the welfare of companion animals. Through a written declaration signed by a majority of MEPs, the European Parliament called on the Commission to ban the import of cat and dog fur, but the Commission has consistently answered that there was no legal basis for such a ban in the EU.

For your information, I also attach the chapter on companion animals from the same publication mentioned above.

Best wishes,
Véronique Schmit
Policy Officer
Eurogroup for Animal Welfare
6 rue des Patriotes
1000 Brussels
Tel. 32 2 740 08 20
Fax 32 2 740 08 29

Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2005 14:58:03 +0000
Subject: your letter 12 January 05

To the Eurogroup for Animal Welfare

Dear Mrs Schmit,

As we had to tackle a few nasty real life stray problems I am sorry that I could not respond to your email of 12 January 2005 at an earlier time. Thank you for responding but it appears that my arguments have not been understood.
I have not been informed on what efforts Eurogroup has taken or Eurogroup plans to do for the strays. So I am quite in the dark about your possibilities and the question if you have been approached on this subject before.
I was not pleading for the fate of companion animals in general but specifically for stray animals. And I am not asking for a legal answer but a moral EU position on this issue.
If the EU Parliament can debate on the moral merits of Price Harry´s Swastika, it should certainly be able to debate on the morality of killing strays.
So bear with me in my argument why the EU should be involved.

In Europe - or other parts in the world for that matter - so called "stray problems" regularly lead to massacres amongst stray animals. Stray animals are (the offspring of) abandoned companion animals. The most prominent characteristic of stray animals is that they were bred for human company and depend on human care. So in our view society has an obligation towards stray animals like cats, dogs and donkeys. In our view we should not kill victims of neglect.

For some unknown reason stray animals lose their status as companion animal or domestic animal. Our main point of concern is the fact that consequently stray animals are legally and/or effectively not protected. This lack of protection is especially unjustified as this category is in the highest need of shelter, food and medical care.

Whether we like it or not, stray problems and violent solutions repeatedly erupt in especially Southern and Eastern European countries. For this reason we urge the EU to construct a clear definition of stray animals and stray animal problems and a clear policy for stray problem solutions.
On the prevention side vaccination, spaying, neutering and chipping are the primary conditions for direct control of the stray problem. Furthermore subjects like legal frameworks for enforcement of animal rights, responsibilities of pet owners, animal rights and pet care education, shelter reform and pest control should be on the agenda.
Last but not least organization and budget should be worked out. I presume that you are very well aware that none of the existing animal protection organizations is equipped to handle "the stray problem", let alone the handful of volunteers.

We do understand that financial objections will be raised immediately. However, we would appreciate an approach that starts with policy and finishes with budget estimations.
So we ask you to take this course of action. And we ask for your advice how small organizations like ours can give support to that action.
Furthermore we would like to receive names and (email) addresses of EU MP´s that are willing to support our action.

Kind regards,

Action Against Poisoning

on 27/01/05 11:12, Info at wrote:

Dear Mr.
We work on matters related to EU legislation on animal welfare. I thought my detailed answer was clear.

I am sorry that we cannot help you.

Yours sincerely,
Véronique Schmit
Policy Officer
Eurogroup for Animal Welfare
6 rue des Patriotes
1000 Brussels
Tel. 32 2 740 08 20
Fax 32 2 740 08 29

Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 17:38:32 +0000
To: Eurogroup Animal welfare Mrs Schmit
Subject: Re: your letter 12 January 05
To the Eurogroup for Animal Welfare
Att. of Mrs. Véronique Schmit

Dear Mrs. Schmit,

Your detailed answer was clear enough. I pointed at an embarrassing omission in the EU Legislation on animal welfare. I asked you to look at the policy side of this subject.

I expect from the Eurogroup - and especially a policy officer for that matter - to close that gap in EU Legislation on animal welfare.

With regards,

For animal friends go to