Suspected violations of animal welfare regulations resulted in 3300 inspections in 2008
A little more than 50% of the inspections concerned production animals and the rest companion animals. An order for rectification of the animals' conditions within the prescribed period to the minimum regulatory level was given in 52% of the inspections of production animals and in 30% of the inspections of companion animals.
Most severe cases of neglect concerned companion animals. Inspections on production animals, based on suspicion, revealed severe negligence in less than 4% of the cases, while the corresponding figure for companion animals was 15%. In the metropolitan of Helsinki alone, more than 130 severe cases of neglect concerning dogs, cats and other pets, such as birds, rabbits and rodents, were uncovered last year.
Almost 300 inspections conducted by animal welfare inspectors authorised by provincial governments were also reported in 2008. Health inspectors and the police can also carry out animal welfare inspections, but only a small percentage of animal welfare inspections carried out by these authorities alone are reported to the provincial governments.
If there is cause to suspect that an animal is cared for or handled in violation of the Animal Welfare Act, the local animal welfare authorities should be contacted. They are authorised to conduct inspections and if violations are found, the owner of the animal is ordered to rectify the situation within a prescribed period of time. The order can be issued under penalty of a fine or of action taken at the expense of the owner, if necessary. The Animal Welfare Act also gives authorities the right to take immediate action during an inspection visit to safeguard the wellbeing of the animal, if warranted by reasons of animal welfare.
Animal welfare control under further development
Animal welfare inspections based on suspicions of violations, inspections based on random sampling as well as various investigations constitute a significant part of animal welfare control and action taken to promote the wellbeing of animals.
Animal welfare is promoted by providing information and guidance to animal owners about the minimum animal welfare requirements and, most of all, about practices for the care of animals to improve their wellbeing. The Finnish Centre for Animal Welfare, which was founded this year, also participates actively in this work.
The new Veterinary Care Act proposes 15 new posts of control veterinarians for regional control of animal welfare and control of cross-compliance, and also to support animal welfare control activities in demanding cases of neglect. The segregation of veterinary care services and regulatory control together with the additional resources will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of animal welfare control.
Solutions based on information technology are also under development to support practical animal welfare control activities. These solutions will make it possible to utilise e.g. official animal registers for control purposes.
The Finnish Centre for Animal Welfare:
For more information, please contact:
Taina Mikkonen, Section Head, tel. +358 (0) 20 772 4225, +358 (0) 40 8308404