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Brussels supports Sofia Municipality’s policy for reducing the number of stray animals


Last week in Brussels was held a workshop on stray animals, organized by the Permanent Representation of the German state of Baden-Württemberg and the FOUR PAWS’ European Policy Office. The meeting was attended by MEPs, representatives of DG "Health and Consumers" in the European Commission, members of the Permanent Representations of the EU member states and representatives of NGOs.


The main topics of discussion were the pan-European framework, governing the protection of animals, the law enforcement concerning animals in some Member States, examples of good practices for controlling the population of stray animals in the EU, and future EU policies in respect of the long-term reduction of the number of stray dogs and cats.


One of the presentations that made a big impression on the participants was the one, made by Sofia Municipality’s deputy mayor, Mrs. Maria Boyadzhiyska, regarding successful practices towards solving the stray dog issue in Sofia during the last two years. Along with the positive results, such as the over 25% reduction of the number of stray dogs since 2011, the work of NGOs, etc., she referred to local and national issues - the lack of a national strategy to address the problem, the low rate of identification and registration of pets, the migration of stray dogs from one municipality to another and the lack of a sustained commitment to the issue by the Bulgarian Veterinary Union. Sofia Municipality’s policy in terms of the stray dog problem was singled out as very positive amidst the lack of proper approach in neighboring countries like Greece and especially Romania.

Experts focused special attention on the situation in Romania, where at the end of last year the Parliament voted on a legislation, regulating the mass killing of stray dogs, which also gives green light to bad practices from the past. It was pointed out that the image of Romania in Europe is seriously affected by the attitude of the authorities towards stray dogs, and that there already is an outflow of tourists from the country.


The meeting ended with a discussion of a declaration, summarizing the main conclusions of the presentations. Recommendations to EU institutions were derived – the need for a common European policy on not only farm but also other animals, including stray dogs and cats; the need for mandatory identification and registration of all pet dogs and cats; the registration of dog and cat breeders and the promotion of the adoption of animals from shelters.


The workshop coincided with the vote of the European Parliament on a European Commission proposal for a new and comprehensive Animal Welfare law. Several important suggestions regarding pets and stray animals were voted. First of all, stray animals will no longer be treated as wild animals but as "domesticated species without owners", thus giving new opportunities to control their population. It was also voted that by the beginning of 2018 all member states should have their own system of compulsory identification and registration of dogs, and should provide reports on its implementation. This will contribute to the better traceability of animals and the control over their reproduction, trade and keeping.