I have today received a reply to my letter of 18 November to the European Commission in respect of the welfare of dogs in Spain.
Thank you for your letter of 18 November 2009 concerning the welfare of dogs in Spain. Comissioner Vassiliou has asked me to reply on her behalf.
The situation you are describing in your letter raises serious concerns for the welfare of those greyhound racing dogs which are neglected or killed at the end of their working season. You also write that there are pet dogs which are abandoned by teporary residents of Spain at the time of their return to their home countries.
As you know, the European Commission attaches great importance to animal welfare. Animals are recognised as sentient beings by the Protocol on Animal Welfare annexed to the EC Treaty and the European institutions are obliged to pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals when formulating and implementing Community legislation. At the same time, however, the European institutions must stay within the competences conferred on them by the EC Treaty. Their power to legislate in improving the welfare of animals extends only to the policy areas covered by the EC Treat, such as agriculture.
Accordingly, although a considerable body of Community legislation for the protection of farm animals has been adopted, the Community legislator has no power to act in order to protect dogs, as this is not a policy area covered by the Treaty. Therefore the European Institutions have no competence to act in this field and this issue remains solely under the responsibility of the Member States.
Nonetheless the Commission is aware of the concerns of NGOs and European citizens regarding dogs and is following with interest any progress. In this regard the Commission has actively supported the work performed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to develop specific guidelines for the control of stray dog populations which were adopted by the 175 OIE Member Countries, Spain included, at the last OIE General Session in May 2009.
The OIE guidelines on stray dog population control are based on the main principle that the promotion of responsible dog ownership can significantly reduce the number of stray animals. Such guidelines outline objectives, evaluations and possible control measures to be implemented in combination according to the national and local context, as well as to the socio-economic situation of 175 OIE Member countries around the world.
Yours sincerely Philip Tod
I'm interested in how many of you received similar replies in response to your letters in the campaign run by Joan Barratt. I have a couple of comments.
1. Paragraph 2 refers to 'greyhound racing dogs' - they seem to have missed the point that it is hunting galgos and other hunting dogs which are the main dogs in question.
2. I have been researching the EU laws on animal welfare recently and they are only applicable to farm animals, animals used in laboratories for experiment, dealings in dog and cat fur.........and they specifically exclude animals used in circuses, fiestas, for 'traditions' - that's how Spain still gets away with so much animal cruelty.
I will be taking a close study of the OIE link.