Q: Violence against companion animals in Bulgaria (2023-07-19)

Q: Emil Radev (PPE, BG), Andrey Novakov (PPE, BG), Andrey Kovatchev (PPE, BG), Alexander Alexandrov Yordanov (PPE, BG), Asim Ademov (PPE, BG), Manuela Ripa (Verts/ALE, DE), Heidi Hautala (Verts/ALE, FI), Vlad Gheorghe (Renew, RO), Elżbieta Kruk (ECR, PL) - Violence against companion animals in Bulgaria (2023-07-19)

We have recently heard of another cruel crime against dogs, involving municipal officials whose duties include caring for animals. Their crime is not an isolated incident, but a systematic practice. Reports suggest that the officials in question repeatedly drugged, abused and wrongfully exported dogs from a shelter to neighbouring municipalities, where they were left to die.

The competent authorities have already initiated pre-trial proceedings. However, it is unacceptable for crimes like this to occur in a country that has criminalised cruelty against vertebrates and is one of the first EU countries to have set up a police service specialising in animal control and welfare. Moreover, crimes of violence against animals are becoming more frequent.

Dogs and cats are the most frequently kept pets, but there is no specific EU legislation protecting them, meaning they often fall victim to negligence, abandonment and murder.

Given this:

1.When does the Commission intend to propose comprehensive EU legislation on the welfare of companion animals?

2.What measures to improve their welfare currently exist, and what measures is the Commission planning?

3.Does the Commission have information about the resources used for the construction and maintenance of the shelter and whether they were used lawfully, particularly if EU funding was used?

A: Ms Kyriakides on behalf of the European Commission

Currently, the EU legislation does not address extensively the issue of protection of pet animals. Regulation (EC) No 1/2005[1] on protection of animals during transport contains some provisions on protection of cats and dogs during commercial transport, such as the minimum age for transport and feeding regime.

The Farm to Fork Strategy[2] announced the revision of the animal welfare legislation. As an important part of the revision, the Commission is therefore looking at the introduction of provisions to protect cats and dogs in commercial breeding, as well as in commercial transport.

The Commission is unable to verify whether the shelter is a beneficiary of EU support as the information made available to it in relation to the case at stake is insufficient to identify such a project. Additionally, the Commission has no specific role regarding the way animal shelters are managed by the national competent authorities.

[1] Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations and amending Directives 64/432/EEC and 93/119/EC and Regulation (EC) No 1255/97 OJ L 3, 5.1.2005, p. 1‐44.

[2] COM/2020/381 final.