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Terms and Definitions




From right to left: Jānis Dūklavs, President of the Council, MEP Marit Paulsen, Rapporteur of the Animal Health Law and Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety

Concluding remarks of the Campaign

The Animal Health Law Trialogue ended yesterday evening, by an official Press Conference. The Wild?Me? campaign and special focus should therefore be closed. Even if all our demands have not been included, we considered that a major step forward for strays and companion animals in Europe has been reached. Please find here below the FOUR PAWS Press Release relating the improvements brought by the Animal Health Law.


PRESS RELEASE - Success for FOUR PAWS Wild? Me? Campaign: EU recognises that homeless cats and dogs are not wild


A major step forward for strays and companion animals in Europe has been reached within the last draft of the Animal Health Law


Brussels, 02.06.2015. Since the first draft of the Animal Health Law, the international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has warned of the misuse of the term “wild” when referring to stray animals and the legal consequences. Monday evening, MEP Marit Paulsen (SW, ALDE), European Parliament’s rapporteur on the Animal Health Law, now renamed “European law on Transmissible Animal Diseases”, and EU Commissioner Andriukaitis presented the outcome of the agreement between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission. Even if the “wild” and “kept” definition will stay, a clause has been added, stating that stray animals are not wild animals, and that the critical definition of wild animals, as given by this description, will apply only to this law.

The new regulation will replace and encompass most of the present EU legislation on animal health. It distinguishes between those animals which are kept as pets and those which are stray without an owner kept, attributing homeless cats and dogs a lower level of legal protection than “kept” ones. It was feared that this could lead to legal grounds to kill strays. Now, by inserting the additional clause a compromise solution has been found and the draft explicitly distinguishing strays from the other non-kept animals.

Moreover, the draft includes other improvements for animal welfare: The very first article of the Animal Health Law implements a safeguard clause in cases of stray population management programs, stating not only that these programs have to be performed in a humane way avoiding pain and distress for the animals, but also that they have to be proportionate with the health risk. It is also now required that these programs have to be implemented in a transparent way and have to include stakeholder consultation.

The most progressive initiative implemented by this new law is the mandatory registration of all professional breeders and sellers of animals. “We welcome this initiative which will help to reduce irresponsible breeding, and in turn reduce overpopulation and abandonment of companion animals”, says Pierre Sultana, Director of FOUR PAWS European Policy Office.

Finally, the new law redefines some terms in the transposition of the Pet Passport Regulation to try to reduce the possibilities of the illegal puppy trade under the non-commercial movement scheme.

Despite these improvements, some problems are still unresolved. FOUR PAWS has concerns regarding the proper enforcement of some unclear terms and notions of the law, such as “humane treatment” of animals. “This agreed version of the Animal Health Law does not meet all FOUR PAWS expectations, but it is already a major step forward for strays and companion animals in Europe”, says Sultana. By increasing control and redefining responsibilities, this new law may limit Member States to adopt systematic culling programs of stray animals, which often take place without transparency and prior consultation with stakeholders and NGOs.

According to the Rapporteur, the final Parliamentary vote validating this compromise text should be a simple formality and should occur in November this year.


--> Please find our "questions and answers" document to help you to understand this new legislation here: AHL questions & answers


--> Please downlad here our press release: IPR_Wild Me Update_20150602_EN

Position Papers

 Please find here the 2 position papers done by the office of MEP Paulsen on the animal welfare/health achievments in the new animal health law, and the achievments regarding stray animals:

Press Conference on the Animal Health Law

On June 1st at 17:45 (CET), MEP Paulsen (Rapporteur of the Animal Health Law) and EU Commissioner Andriukaitis will inform the public about an informal deal that could be reached during the potentially final trialogue on the future European Law on Transmissible Animal Diseases (so-called Animal Health Law).


You can watch it live stream here:


Update: At the demand of Mr Miko, Director General of EU Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) and for reasons of transparency, VIER PFOTEN publishes Mr Miko’s answer to our letter of 3 February 2015 as well as the mentioned letter


Despite the deepest respect we have for Mr Miko, VIER PFOTEN disagrees with the interpretation that the distinction between animals which are kept by humans and animals that are not under human control is coherent. Though it is true that this definition covers all animals, there is no need to divide species in two groups, merging in both groups companion and wild animals. We believe that such merging will complicate the enforcement of this law for both veterinarians and lawyers and is not clear for European citizens. This can lead, even not intentionally, to a reduction of the welfare and protection for stray animals, for which “other rules can be applied” (the same as for wild animals such as wild boars, such as massive hunting and killing) as they are not under human control. We believe that the European Commission shall prevent that such event appears!

This is why VIER PFOTEN calls again on the honourable Members of the European Commission, Parliament and Council, in the context of the trilogue, to opt for a definition which does not define homeless cats and dogs as wild animals.



*We will publish any further communication if the Commission desires so.


Please find here the letter we adressed to Mr Miko: Letter sent

and here the official answer we received from Mr Miko: Letter received

closed: Online protest

FOUR PAWS is protesting against the latest Animal Health Law, drafted by the European Commission, which plans to classify domestic animals that are not owned or kept by humans, such as stray dogs and cats, as wild animals, while at the same time not classifying owned animals such as lions and elephants in circuses or zoos, as wild.


Wild animals, presently hunted and shot all over Europe, have a lower level of protection than domestic and companion animals. Defining stray cats and dogs as wild animals could, in some situations, offer legal grounds for allowing hunters to shoot at them, as has already been proposed in the past in various European countries. Moreover, questioning the basic biological distinctions of the animals for practical reasons will lead to legal uncertainty, which could lead to animal welfare issues.


Please, help us fight this inappropriate definition!


Following a strong protest by FOUR PAWS, the European Parliament has voted against this definition. On February 5, this definition within the Animal Health Law will be discussed by the European Commission, the Council, representing the Member States and the European Parliament! There’s still a chance for us to prevent from this highly problematic definition.


FOUR PAWS disapproves of European Commission’s plans to consider stray domestic animals as wild animals

Brussels, 05.12.2014. For the last three years, the European Commission has been drafting an Animal Health Law, which is supposed to replace and encompass most of the present EU legislation on animal health, striving for simplification and greater consistency under common principles and general rules.


International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS, present in 7 EU countries in addition to an office in Brussels, welcomes these intentions, and has been happy to see that in the framework of the elaboration of the draft text Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have called for the identification and registration of all dogs in Europe. This would be a fundamental tool to prevent not only health risks for humans and animals, but also abandonment and illegal trade in puppies; therefore to protect dogs, and finally reduce canine overpopulation.


However, in the present draft of the Animal Health Law, an opposing trend has become apparent which might now even determine the decrease of protection: the proposal tabled by the European Commission wants to consider stray domestic animals as wild animals.


Marlene Wartenberg, Director of FOUR PAWS European Policy Office in Brussels regards these developments as concrete threat to animal welfare across the EU. “If this proposal was approved it would mean that stray and free-roaming animals would be granted a lower level of protection in the EU. In some situations, this could offer legal grounds for allowing hunters to shoot at them, as it has already been proposed in the past in various countries”.


The proposal is presently being discussed in the last stage of the legislative process conducted through the Trialogue (which includes European Council, Commission and Parliament). Lamentably, last week in the European Parliament, Commission officials confirmed their intention to keep the text as it is, despite admitting that the definition of stray animals as ‘wild’ is confusing.


This decision would ignore the fundamental biological distinction between wild and domestic animals, and be taken against the basic principle of Article 13 of the EU Treaty (TFEU) that considers animals to be sentient beings, and requires new EU legislation to take their needs into account. Also, it would deliberately ignore the constant requests of EU citizens to increase the level of protection granted to all animals, not to decrease it.

This is happening without publicity, in the attempt to get this unacceptable definition passed without attracting criticism. FOUR PAWS has thus decided to give voice to EU citizens (and their animals) by organising an international protest that starts with a postcard campaign addressed to the EU Institutions and that EU citizens can share.


‘We are asking our representatives in Europe and the Commission to withdraw this unacceptable proposal, and focus on improving animal health and welfare instead’ – say Wartenberg,. ‘We have been working for responsible ownership of companion animals since 2010 through projects like CAROdog and – since 2013 – CAROcat. As this proposal can seriously undermine our work, we will now offerEU citizens the chance to tell directly to the European Commission what they expect them to do.

We hope that common sense will prevail over the fanciful idea of some officials.’.


Campaign materials are already available in various EU countries, and further actions will be announced soon.

Share the postcards

Please find a digital version of the postcards to download below! Do not hesitate to send them to your responsible ministries and to the EU Institutions.


Download postcard! 

Download postcard!

Download postcard!

Download postcard!

Download postcard!

Download postcard!


Adresses of the Agriculture ministries

You may find under this link the websites of the Ministries of Agriculture of your country: