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Minister of Animal Welfare

Animals are an essential part of our society and families. That is why animal welfare is an important concern.

Responsibility of owners for animal welfare

A relatively strong bond of affection can unite a human being with a domestic animal. The animal then becomes an emotional support. It can help the child to grow but also accompany people in psycho-social, physical or educational difficulties.

Conversely, owners are responsible for the welfare of their pets. Taking care of them, caring for them and providing them with adequate accommodation is the responsibility of all those who own an animal. This responsibility for animal welfare is a commitment to animal life. The adoption of an animal must be the subject of a thorough reflection by any person contemplating to welcome it.

zwarte kat die op kattenboom ligt

The welfare of wild animals or animals held by certain structures

In addition to pets, the Brussels-Capital Region also has a whole series of animals that live in its territory in the wild. Other animals are held by different structures such as farms or pet stores. Their welfare must be controlled and respected.

Eekhoorn eet een walnoot

A legislative framework for animal welfare

The Brussels Minister of Animal Welfare Bernard Clerfayt wants to promote and implement the necessary legislative provisions to improve and maintain the protection and welfare of animals. It also wishes to raise awareness and inform citizens about the need to take into account animal welfare, which, in its opinion, must be considered in all aspects of life in society involving animals.

Why is it important to provide a regulatory framework for animal welfare?

The first measure to protect the animal for itself was passed in 1867. Since then, animal protection legislation has evolved. There is growing public interest in animal welfare.

Obviously, interest in animal welfare is a social phenomenon. And this trend gives rise to many initiatives: citizens, volunteers, commercial and political (in our communes for example).

It is therefore necessary to respond to this sensitivity and to frame initiatives that have an impact on animal welfare, whether wild or domestic animals.

The two surveys conducted among the population of Brussels and the symposium dedicated to animal law are tools to create a suitable legislative framework in the Brussels Region.

Fewer laboratory animals

The Minister’s objective is to achieve a drastic reduction in the use of laboratory animals. Encouraging the search for alternative methods and spreading them widely in the scientific community is therefore a priority. The budget has increased from 110,000 euros to 360,000 euros and has enabled support for the development of the IC-3Rs platform.

Sterilization of cats is mandatory, let it be known

In order to combat the proliferation of cats, a major communication campaign on the mandatory sterilization of cats will be renewed in 2023 and accompanied by new measures for optimal management of the cat population.

Encouraging municipalities to punish mistreatment

The use of municipal administrative sanctions (SAC) allowing mayors to sanction acts affecting animal welfare should be encouraged. Incentives have been put in place via the label «commune amie des animaux», so that the municipalities put in service agents in charge of surveillance.

What animals can be kept?

Positive lists limit the animal species that can be kept and especially protect those that cannot adapt to a domestic life in the city or that could be dangerous. Without waiting for the future Brussels Animal Welfare Code, the government adopted a positive list of reptiles limiting the number of reptile species in the Brussels Region to 422 (out of more than 11,000). The list of birds and fish is under development.

Detention permit

In the Brussels-Capital Region, discussions are underway to establish a permit for the holding of an animal. It could be withdrawn in the event of serious mistreatment. A gradual and targeted implementation will assess the real impact. Priority will be given to permits for less commonly held positive lists such as Bennett’s Wallaby.

A conference dedicated to animal law

What legal status for the animal? What about the right of appropriation? What is the role and responsibilities of governance and institutions? And the repression of mistreatment? Veterinary inspection? … The symposium "From domestication to protection" held on 28 September addresses these and other issues. The proceedings of the conference on animal law are available for download here.

Report of the investigation «Give us your voice»

Between June 15 and September 30, 2021, Brussels residents were invited to answer the survey «Give us your voice», about animal welfare.

This survey report available here tells us their expectations and their wishes to improve the protection of animals in the Brussels Region.

Work has begun on the reform of the 1986 Act. This data will be inspiring for the legislative work. You will find all the survey figures at the end of the notebook.