1st Conference on Animal Welfare in The Baltic Region – Responsible Ownership, 5 and 6 May 2011, Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, Vilnius

Press Release

A big conference organized by FOUR PAWS took place in Vilnius on May 5 and 6, 2011 on the topic of companion animals, aiming to a pan-European solution to stop stray animal suffering caused by overpopulation. The smooth flow of this event was ensured by the assistance of a Lithuanian animal welfare group founded by the Members of Parliament Petras Austrevicius and Zita Uzlyte. 200 delegates from 20 countries discussed solutions within the concept of responsible ownership; the result was the Vilnius Declaration, which has already attracted a lot attention. In addition and in relation to this conference the FOUR PAWS Stray Animal Care (SAC) project took place in Vilnius for the first time ever, was finalized successfully and the FOUR PAWS school project is probably to be expanded to Lithuania. 

FOUR PAWS, namely its European Policy Office, had recently discussed the revision of the animal welfare law in Lithuania with national NGOs, government and the Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare. This finally led to several actions of FOUR PAWS in this country. The spouse of the Austrian ambassador to Lithuania, Dr. Gudrun Koller, had initiated this constructive dialogue. The result for the animals is for now the following: 


Conference and the Vilnius Declaration 

Two hundred participants from 20 countries, including numerous experts and high-ranking officials, discussed solutions within the concept of responsible ownership, which resulted in the “Vilnius Declaration on responsible ownership for companion animals (please see below)”. An overwhelming consensus was reached as to the fact that only respect towards sentient beings and comprehensive measures of population control in the light of responsible ownership, such as Identification and Registration (I & R), birth control, veterinarian prevention and care, and education, can alleviate the suffering of stray animals effectively. It was also made clear that these steps can only be taken within the framework of a pan-European policy. In the future more animal welfare conferences will be organised in the Baltic region with focus on other animal species as well, which will be covered by respective political work.

For more information on the conference: www.carodog.eu 


The SAC Team project 

This was the first ever appearance of the FOUR PAWS SAC team in Lithuania. The SAC team worked both in the Lithuanian capital and the city of KlaipÄ—da, at the mouth of the Nemunas River. Far more than 500 animals – dogs and most notably many cats – were castrated, cared for and vaccinated. This first assignment in Lithuania was made possible by the intervention of Dr. Gudrun Koller, and it deepened the efforts to strengthen the SAC work in EU countries.

In addition, the media attention the FOUR PAWS SAC team received both at press conferences in Vilnius and KlaipÄ—da was very favourable. This way, the journey to Lithuania has nourished hopes on various levels that a better future for all stray animals can become a reality.

The FOUR PAWS school project for Lithuania 

The adoption of the school project by VIER PFOTEN is already in preparation to be adopted and soon meetings will take place with the Lithuanian Ministry of Education. The lead person of the project has become meanwhile member of the working group “Education and animal welfare” of the EU Commission. 

Animal Welfare Act 

FOUR PAWS will observe the legislative procedure of the new and progressive animal welfare law that has just been forwarded to the parliament. 


Conclusion – The Vilnius Declaration

Please click here below to download the "Vilnius Declaration":


Presentations and Abstracts

Human-Animal relationship in Europe:   Abstract 

Eva Waiblinger on behalf of Dennis C. Turner, BS, ScD Director, Institute for Applied Ethology and Animal Psychology, Institute ofEvolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of  Zurich


Responsible Ownership – basic principle of European Animal Welfare Policy and the new Animal Welfare Strategy of the EU Commission (2011-2015):  Abstract 1    Abstract 2
Andrea Gavinelli, Head of Unit Animal Welfare, DG SANCO, European Commission


The Role of Veterinarians promoting responsible ownership of dogs in EuropeAbstract 
Walter Winding, President of the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE)


Belgian Programme for a National companion Animal Action PlanAbstract 

Eric van Tilburgh, Head of the Animal Welfare division of the Federal Services of Public Health of Belgium



Evelyn Valtin, Director and Member of the Board, Society for the Protection of Animals (ESPA)


Vaidotas Kiudulas, Head of the Animal Health Department, State Food and Veterinary Service (SFVS), Ministry of Agriculture 
Ina Sokolska, Member of the social movement "Humans for Animals"



Sviatlana Kharevitch, Lawyer, Deputy Chairman, Public Assiciation for Animal Protection Agida
Ella Lassoncyk, Co-founder, Faithful Heart


Sanne Rosbog, Chairperson, Dyrevarnet – Society for Defensless Animals


Tiina Pullola, Senior Veterinary Officer, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry:  
Maria Blomster, Head of Communications, Finnish Federation for Animal Welfare Associations (SEY) 



Lillemor Wodmar, Secretary General, Djurskydd


The role of the European Convention for the protection of Pet animals in responsible pet ownershipAbstract 

David G. Pritchard, Chairman, Standing Committee of the Protection of Farmed Animals (TAP), Council of Europe


Parallel Workshops

  • Birth Control PoliciesAbstract (Marlene Wartenberg on behalf of Ioana Dungler )
  • Controlled Release: Cornel Stoenescu
  • Shelter ManagementAbstract (Susanne Haselhorst )
  • Education of the public and particularly children, Training of professionals: (Veronica Tulpan)   Abstract