In the wake of numerous disease outbreaks that have severely impacted the health and welfare of millions of animals, there is an urgent need to recognize the important link that exists between animal health and animal welfare. Several amendments have been proposed by Environment Committee (ENVI) members that integrate a more holistic approach, helping to ensure that the regulation will act as a useful tool for minimizing transmissible diseases and animal suffering in the most humane and rational way. These changes are necessary not only for protecting animals but also for addressing today’s environmental and public health challenges.
Eurogroup for Animals calls on all relevant MEPs to support amendments covering seven key areas (see below). We also support several additional amendments of the ENVI draft opinion, including those that will help to ensure more transparency and accountability of agreed rules.
1. Recognition of animals as sentient beings: We welcome the Commission’s proposal which is now under review by the Parliament, to take the relationship between animal health and welfare into account. However, the Commission's proposal provides no assurance that animal welfare requirements will be respected. This is of particular concern in the context of the proposed rules on prevention and disease control.
2. Listing diseases that affect all animals: We agree that the criteria for listing diseases must include considerations of their impact on society and the environment, including their impact on animal welfare. However, the Commission proposal does not go far enough to ensure that all relevant diseases and species will be covered.
3. Ensuring adequate scope of basic requirements: All establishments, species and movements pose a potential disease risk. Therefore basic requirements for identification and registration of animals, registration of transporters and approval of certain types of establishments as well as relevant record keeping requirements should apply to all animals.
4. Recognizing good animal welfare management practices as a component of prevention: Appropriate animal management practices should be supported in the context of disease prevention under the “responsibilities and knowledge” requirements of operators, and in the context of the provisions given for biosecurity, among other provisions. This includes improved breeding, keeping, and transport practices. Measures should lead to a reduction in antibiotic resistance, improved farming practices and reduced transportation, among other improvements. Eurogroup for Animals opposes cloning of animals for food production, and on the import and sale of animal clones, their offspring and food products from animal clones and their offspring as well as semen and embryos from animal clones. We continue to call for an outright ban on the use of cloning, however until this is in place, traceability of these animals must be ensured.
5. Supporting rational animal health visits and certificates: All animal health visits should also look at the welfare of the animals, and the requirement for an animal health certificate should cover all animals under human care and explicitly include cats and dogs for commercial movements as well as the exotic pet trade, markets, zoos, and circuses.
6. Prevent animal suffering while eradicating disease: Suffering of affected animals must be minimized by ensuring that disease control measures, such as culling carried out in eradication programmes or contingency plans, are conducted as humanely as possible for each group of species, only when needed and on as few animals as necessary.