The European Parliament opened its doors to three assistance dogs on the occasion of the 2009 European Pet Night, an event highlighting the benefits of companion animals to European Society. A vibrant reception was hosted by MEPs Neil Parish and Paulo Casaca, alongside a broad group of organisations supporting pet welfare and health, under the heading “We care”.
The fourth European Pet Night was held inside the European Parliament in Brussels. The coalition of partner organisations showing “They care” included assistance dogs Europe (ADEu), the Eurogroup for Animals, the International Federation for Animal Health – Europe (IFAH-Europe), the Belgian Police canine department and cavalry and the European Commission’s DG SANCO. MEPs Neil Parish (UK) and Paulo Casaca (Portugal), respectively President and Vice-President of the Parliamentary Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals, were the hosts of this unique reception. With 62 million households owning a pet in the European Union, both MEPs stressed the importance of this issue for European Society.
Wendy Morrell's assistance dog Caesar at European Pet Night
MEP Neil Parish (UK) welcomed the involvement of the European Commission Directorate General SANCO (Health and Consumer Protection) through their “Animals + Humans = One Health” campaign on biosecurity, and he recalled the work of the Parliamentary Intergroup on the transport of puppies, vulnerable to stress and rabies: “The EU should fight to reduce the exposure of animals to diseases, as there is no animal welfare without an optimal level of animal health”, he said.
MEP Paulo Casaca (Portugal) stressed the success of the European passport for the intra-Community movements of dogs and cats and expressed his deep commitment to the issue of companion animals: “I think it’s time to understand that half of the veterinarians actually working on pets is an enormous indicator of the economic importance of the sector. Something that matters so much to all European Citizens cannot be ignored and we have to put it high on our agenda”, he commented.
The presentations reminded European decision-makers of the importance of animal welfare and animal health for society at large. All organisations showed a different facet to the benefits of pets to society, around a vivid testimony by Wendy Morrell (representing the British association Dogs for the disabled) and Caesar, her assistance dog: “Caesar’s effect on my life has been enormous,” she said. “Now I get involved with things I would have been too scared to previously. He is priceless because of what he does and the independence he gives me has improved my self-esteem. He’s my hero.”
In addressing the audience, IFAH-Europe Chairman Jochen Wieda stated “We are at the early phase in the review of our major Veterinary legislation over the next couple of years. Our Vision is a true single market for animal health products. This will ensure maximum availability of products for all species, including companion animals. It will be a win:win situation and is particularly important where we have rare diseases and where we need to ensure fast access to new products across the EU”.
European Pet Night will be back in early 2010 to heighten public awareness on the complex issues surrounding the welfare of companion animals and their role in society and allow politicians to have a genuine exchange of views with stakeholders from the sector.
European Pet Night 2009 was co-organisedby:
ADEu – Assistance Dogs Europe, www.assistancedogseurope.org
Dyadis – www.dyadis.org
Ethologia – www.ethologia.be
European Commission DG SANCO “One health” campaign:
Eurogroup for Animals – www.eurogroupforanimals.org
FEDIAF – www.fediaf.org
FVE – Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, www.fve.org
IFAH-Europe – International Federation of the animal health industry-Europe, www.ifaheurope.org
IAHAIO – International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organisations, www.iahaio.org
IFAH-Europe (International Federation for Animal Health-Europe) is the organisation representing manufacturers of veterinary medicines, vaccines and other animal health products in Europe and comprises 15 Member Companies and 19 National Associations throughout Europe. For further information on IFAH-Europe, please visit http://www.ifaheurope.org