Thursday 26 July 2018 | 31

Wallonia, in the leading pack of animal welfare

In 12 chapters and 109 articles, the animal welfare code adopted in Wallonia on Thursday 17th July is the most complete and progressive in Europe. All subjects are discussed, the advances are effective in all areas and for all animals ... First, it states that any animal is "a being endowed with sensations, emotions and a certain level of consciousness ".

Hr blog

While in 2015, during the revision of the Civil Code, the French legislation stated that animals were sentient beings, in fact, absolutely nothing has changed in France: animals remain property. Wallonia sees them differently.

This global text - supported by the Regional Minister for Wallonia, Carlo Di Antonio - lays down in law new regulatory bases on welfare and respect for animals. Therein it has talked about their detention, their trade and transportation, their death, the experiments they are subjected to, and so on.

Animals are no longer things

The pony rides are one of the pernicious activities of human entertainment, where, as at the circus or the dolphinarium, our young children are conditioned to look upon living ponies like wooden horses, in other words not to distinguish between an object and a being endowed with sensitivity. It will not be the case with our neighbours to the North.

Delphinariums and circuses with forbidden animals

Major advances include the total ban on circuses and dolphinariums holding and exploiting wild animals for human entertainment in French-speaking Belgium.

In France, on the other hand, the so-called "dolphinariums" decree issued in 2017 by the Ministry of Ecology, was cancelled for a technical detail by the State Council, and the current ministry has sided with the captivity industry.

We are very worried that the next decree will be made of "trivial measures" that block progress for the next 30 years, for dolphins and orcas. The decree initially prohibited the reproduction and exchange of cetaceans between water parks. It did not go to an immediate closure, as is now the case in Wallonia.

Circuses with wild animals are banned from the Walloon country. In August 2017, on the other side of the border, just named, Nicolas Hulot had taken a clear stand against the captivity of wild animals, whose place is not in circuses. Since, nothing has happened! It's like frozen.

Worse, in March 2018 we attacked the decree of 2011 called "circuses" before the State Council but the ministry replied in writing taking the side of circuses with animals! It is a shock to see a minister of Ecology, who is a former activist, behaving in that manner.

Towards the end of animal experiments

When we are fighting right now, in the spirit of European regulations, to close the biggest Beagle and Golden Retriever dog breeding farm in France, which is destined for animal experimentation and wants to double its capacity, Wallonia greatly restricts the cases where it is allowed, including in research! By 2020, no more dogs, cats or primates will suffer on laboratory benches, and in 2025, the ban will affect all animals in education. It is an immense progress!

Measures on animal experimentation:

  • authorization only if there is no alternative,
  • with the authorization of a local ethics commission,
  • and only for basic research, protection of the natural environment, human or animal health or welfare, research for the conservation of species, higher education or training.

Strays and cruelty on pets

While we fight alongside our associative partners, against stray pets, and our Cell Zoe organizes rescues and takes legal action to combat cruelty, it is the Belgian political world itself that takes its responsibilities on the other side of the border.

The article on animal rights "to move freely" will have immediate consequences for the life of the poor dogs, which are kept alive for the rest of their lives, at the end of a two-meter-long chain, in a makeshift shelter. It is inhuman but still quite legal in France.

Measures of animal welfare code on strays and cruelty:

  • introduction of a pet license issued at the age of 18, which can be withdrawn from anyone who is known to be involved in animal abuse.
  • registration of this person in a database in case of proven abuse.
  • abandonment, neglect and abuse of an animal will have far greater legal consequences than before (fines up to EUR 100,000 and increased prison sentences, up to 15 years).
  • management of sales and exchanges against impulse acquisitions,
  • obligation to identify and sterilize dogs and cats

Other concrete measures will be real progress, such as:

  • the drastic control of animal trafficking (through the control of the introduction or transit through the territory of certain species)
  • improved and better supervised transportation conditions
  • the end of battery farming for laying hens
  • the obligation to perform anaesthesia or stunning before any animal killing, and only by an accredited person 
  • the obligation of video surveillance in all slaughterhouses (a promise from Emmanuel Macron's unfulfilled campaign, if we still remember it?)
  • banning animal and animal fighting (strong signal sent to bullfighting aficionados)
  • the restriction of the cases of authorizations of shooting at animals (hunting)

This is a strong signal for all European neighbours. So ... what are we waiting for?

Julia Mothé
Hr blog

In the subject

One Voice issues a notice to Marineland regarding the Orcas.

Comments 31

I accept that publication of my comments is subject to the code of conduct.

Hermine | Saturday 01 September 2018

Une prise de conscience de la souffrance animale ? Ce n'est pas demain la veille, trop peu de gens se sentent concernés (pour ce qui concerne la France. Ailleurs c'est rarement mieux, hélas)

mumu | Thursday 09 August 2018

quand on apprend que nous amis et voisins wallons protègent les animaux de la manière la plus complète possible, on aimerait bien être wallon ! la nationalité française on la supporte tant bien que mal, car nous ne sommes clairement pas à la hauteur ! on construit l'europe ? ah bon... alors c'est illogique qu'un animal soit mieux protégé ici, et pas là !

Mumu | Thursday 09 August 2018

Bravo les Wallons ! Honneur à vous !
Que la "start-up" France prenne exemple sur vous, elle en a bien besoin.

Doris Kordt | Thursday 02 August 2018

Das darf nicht sein.