In Spain, after the hunting season ends, there is a tradition of killing dogs that have been involved in hunting, mostly either Spanish greyhounds (galgos) or podencos. The dogs are often killed in an unethical manner, such as by hanging, poisoning or stoning. This is based on the belief that, the more painfully a dog dies, the better luck a hunter will have next year. It is estimated that 100 000 galgos and podencos that have been used for hunting purposes are cruelly killed each year in Spain.
In the EU, decisions on animal welfare standards for pet animals are left to the national level, which means that Spain cannot be obliged directly by means of EU legislation to improve the situation of hunting dogs. The Commission’s latest animal welfare strategy dates back to 2012, since which time people in the EU have become significantly more aware of animal rights issues. Therefore, the Commission should consider drawing up an updated animal welfare strategy with a focus not only on improving the living conditions of farm animals but also on the situation of pet animals.
As part of the updated animal welfare strategy, consideration should be given to whether it would be possible, in accordance with the EU principles of proportionality and subsidiarity, to adopt a separate directive affording pet animals a minimum level of protection. The introduction of these minimum standards could directly improve the situation of hunting dogs in Spain, which falls far short of the kind of life that animals deserve to lead. Such a directive to improve protection of pet animals would be an example of regulation at Union level with genuine added value.
Is the Commission aware of the inhumane living conditions faced by Spanish hunting dogs, and will it update its animal welfare strategy and, in that context, consider proposing a directive laying down minimum standards for the protection of pet animals?
The Commission is aware that the welfare situation of dogs — which lies under the responsibility of the Member States — may be problematic in some Member States.
In 2019, the Commission started an evaluation of the EU animal welfare strategy 2012-2015(1) expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
In parallel, in the context of the European Green Deal(2), the Commission intends to present a Farm to Fork Strategy in spring 2020 . As part of the strategy, the Commission will also consider the welfare of animals.
Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union(3) states that, in ‘formulating and implementing the Union's agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals (…)’.
Any proposal by the Commission on animal welfare has to be considered within the above framework.