Oct 19 2011
Killing of stray animals in Ukraine
One of my biggest constituent mailbag issues continues to be animal welfare. And the biggest item at present is the ‘cleansing’ of stray dogs in certain Ukraine towns in preparation for the European Cup football in 2012.
The authorities’ chosen methods of extermination are vicious and include poisoning, shooting, burning alive and suffocating to death.
I share my constituents abhorrence with what is going on in Ukraine in the name of ‘cleansing’ the streets of homeless animals before the European Cup football competition. Unfortunately such treatment is not just happening in Ukraine but in many other countries bordering the European Union (EU), not to mention those members inside the EU (e.g. Greece, Romania etc).
I believe in the European Parliament we need to adopt a 2 pronged strategy to deal with this barbarity. Firstly, we need to encourage the European Commission to bring forward specific legislation to standardise rules across the whole EU.
On this matter I am pleased to report some progress: through the European Intergroup for Animal Welfare (of which I am a Vice-President) we have managed, just last week (13 October 2011), to get adopted a Written Declaration calling for the European Commission and Member States to develop a cohesive policy for dog population management, and the compulsory identification and registration of dogs.
This sends a clear message to the European Commission that it must act now and respond to Article 13 of the EU Treaty on the functioning of the European Union which states (and it is one of my proudest achievements to have pioneered this amendment through the European Parliament) that animals are ‘sentient beings’ and not ‘products’ – ‘agricultural’ or ‘comfort’ – and that the EU and Member States must pay full regard to the welfare requirements of these sentient beings.
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 companion animals.
Secondly, and in the short term, we must respond to specific campaigns such as the one in Ukraine and on that matter I have contacted the European Commission asking them that, given we are currently negotiating an EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, which will be greatly to the advantage of Ukraine, what measures the European Commission can take to ‘encourage’ the Ukrainian authorities to improve their treatment of stray animals.
In the meantime I will pursue whatever measures are possible within the European Parliament to improve the treatment of stray animals in Ukraine (and anywhere else) and I would encourage all my concerned constituents to keep the pressure on the Ukrainian Authorities, the European Football Authorities and, indeed, our own UK Ministers, to raise this issue.