Conference – Responsible Dog Ownership in Europe: Conference on Canine Overpopulation in Europe and Sustainable Solution Strategies, 4 and 5 October 2010, Brussels


The conference ‘Responsible Dog Ownership in Europe’ organised by VIER PFOTEN/FOUR PAWS and Istituto G. Caporale, was held in Brussels on 4 and 5 October 2010 at the presence of over 100 participants from over 25 countries, representing European and national institutions, International Organisations, NGOs, private sector and veterinarian organisations.

There was broad consensus among the participants on the following points:


Fundamental statements:

– Animal welfare is a multidisciplinary issue, encompassing ethical, scientific, economic, legal and social aspects

– Positive human-animal relations are an important source of comfort, social contact and cultural identification for a vast majority of the European citizens

– Responsible ownership is one of the most important goals to achieve Statements about Canine Overpopulation

– A sustainable approach to stopping canine overpopulation in Europe through systematic EU-wide birth control and educational strategies and programmes instead of killing healthy animals can be established in Europe, taking into consideration previous experiences of different stakeholders

– Mandatory identification, an effective and reliable system of dog registration are crucial for successful animal health and welfare management, not only to reunite stray dogs with their owners, but also to help prevent illegal puppy trading and to promote responsible ownership
– Stray control must be done in a way which does not cause avoidable pain, suffering or distress. Capture must be done with minimum of force and minimum of mental suffering and if animals need to be euthanized, it must be done humanely

– Euthanasia was clearly defined as an exclusive veterinarian indication based method to bringing an animal from life to death and this exclusively by a veterinarian
– Animal Birth Control (ABC) programmes can offer a valuable answer to the problem of dog overpopulation
– The CAROdog website should be used as a platform to share information and expertise, and launch initiatives aimed to implement the suggested actions. This can lead to faster, more effective and cheaper answers to specific and general problems

Calls for institutional actions

– The Council of the European Union should recognise the importance of acknowledging the welfare of companion animals as a relevant issue for the establishment of EU legislation (harmonisation), the Belgian impact within the Belgium presidency was highly appreciated

– In consideration of different situations existing in different States, any European rules should be adaptable to different environments. Member States should be able to adopt more advanced legislations and regulations 

– EU and Member States should ensure that adequate resources are attributed for the implementation, practical enforcement of the legislation including legal sanctions and policies aimed to improve the welfare of dogs

– The EU Commission in its second EU Animal Welfare Action Plan should include references to companion animals and a commitment to improve their welfare throughout Europe

– Areas for action at the EU level include:

  • the regulation and licensing of breeding, selling and other trade aspects
  • identification and registration of companion animals by EU-wide compatible systems
  • the education of dog keepers and of the general public. A plan for education on dog welfare, including public education and courses in veterinary schools, should be designed in order to limit problems today and prepare lasting solutions well entrenched in European society
  • the exchange of information and expertise among member states
  • the promotion and funding of research on specific issues related to companion animal welfare

Brussels, October 2010