Document type : article published in L'Avenir (Belgium)
Author : L'Avenir
Preview: In the summer of 2023, the Belgian government approved the first reading of Bernard Clerfayt's draft ordinance for a Brussels Animal Welfare Code. With new regulations on the keeping, trading and importing of animals, as well as the management of stray animals, the entire body of animal protection legislation has been reviewed. Here are the 10 key measures in the future Animal Welfare Code.
In the Brussels Region, over 130,000 domestic animals and many wild animals are currently kept. They are protected by a law dating back to 1986. Now, nearly 40 years on, scientific knowledge has evolved, as have the concerns of citizens over animal welfare.
"Our relationship with animals has evolved. The status of animals has become a major social issue. It was high time to shake the dust off this law dating back to 1986 and make it relevant to the Brussels of today. This new Code is the most far-reaching reform ever to have been carried out in the field of animal welfare. Its ambition is to ensure the protection and welfare of animals, taking into account their physiological and ethological needs", explains Bernard Clerfayt, the Brussels Minister for Animal Welfare
To ensure the best possible definition of the Code's priorities and directions for action, the Brussels Minister for Animal Welfare was able to draw on the help of industry representatives and citizens. In 2021, the "Help us speak with your voice" survey enabled 2,135 inhabitants of Brussels to participate in the drafting of this new legislation. [...]The future Brussels Animal Welfare Code has now been submitted to Brulocalis, Brupartners and the APD for their opinion.
Focus on 10 key measures in the Code
- Ban on the keeping of amphibians and wild animals
The aim is to prevent animals from being taken from the wild, but also from being trafficked. Amphibians kept prior to the Code's entry into force may continue to be kept until they die.
- Ban on the sale of live animals at public markets
No more rabbits, chickens, ducks or even sheep are to be displayed at markets. This measure will prevent impulse purchases and limit the stress for the animals of being bundled up.
- The introduction of a keeper's permit
This measure is not comparable to that in force in Wallonia. There is no question of automatically issuing possession permits without ensuring that the holders have sufficient knowledge to acquire an animal. In the Brussels Region, we will grant a permit for species with specific needs following recognized training or the passing of an examination.
- All animals could be subject to compulsory identification
Currently, only cats and dogs are covered by this obligation. Broadening the scope of identification will ensure better protection for all animals.
- Animal welfare
While everyone knows about community service, few are aware of animal welfare. The aim is to educate citizens by giving them a community work penalty that fits the offence they have committed.
- Failure to assist animals in distress
If an animal is in distress, we can no longer remain silent. Failure to assist an animal in distress will therefore be an offence punishable by a judge.
- Possibility of using the mystery shopper technique
It is not always easy to identify the perpetrators of animal welfare offences, particularly where classified ads on social networks are concerned. This measure will enable any authorized person to pose as a potential customer and gather the information needed to identify offenders.
- A focus on the animal's interests in divorce proceedings
When a couple separates, the question always arises of who will look after any pets. While in some cases the answer is straightforward and a quick agreement is reached between the parties, this is not always the case. This measure will therefore enable judges to award custody on the basis of the animal's best interests. Enforcement of ownership rights is particularly difficult to accept when a bond of affection has been established between the animal and the spouse who is not the owner - shared custody could therefore be decided.
- Introducing the possibility for animals to laid to rest beside their owners
For many Brussels residents, their pet is a full member of their family. Those who so wish will therefore be able to be laid to rest with their pet's remains beside them.
- Principle of non-regression
This principle implies that the level of protection arrived at through legislation cannot be reduced. The Brussels Region's goal is thus to achieve only positive progress, systematically improving its policy on animal protection and welfare.