New law plans to better protect Estonia's pets

Cat, Source: Jenny Va / ERR

A new law is being drafted to better protect and improve the lives of pets in Estonia by the Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture. It should be completed by spring 2024.

Over 700 animals are cared for by Shelters NGO Tallinn Animal Shelter (Varjupaikade MTÜ), of which 650 are cats. Estonia has many stray cat colonies.

"The stray animals problem in Estonia could certainly be solved by making the microchipping of animals compulsory nationwide. At present, in some (municipalities) it is compulsory, in others, it is not, and in others it is only recommended," Annii Anete Mõisamaa, the charity's communications manager, told Wednesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".

Geit Karurahu, marketing manager at the Estonian Society for the Protection of Animals (Eesti Loomakaitse Selts), said the current animal protection law is too vague and does not work as it should. 

This means people who mistreat animals avoid punishment.

"Officials do not dare to use it in the way that they could, i.e. to issue injunctions or, for example, to take away animals. Of course, the penalties could be more severe," she said.

The ministry's Pille Tammemägi said: "We will certainly review the list of penalties and misdemeanors and the level of penalties. And another thing is the procedure and competencies, how we actually assess that welfare, and what is the proportionate sentencing. A lot of it has to do with the supervision side as well."

Tammemägi said the new law is in its early stages and drafting started in spring.

"Four main areas have been mapped out on which we will focus in this analysis and these are preventive actions, monitoring actions, the issue of competencies, and cooperation issues," she listed.

Keeping animals chained up and puppy and kitten farms are the most common concern among NGOs and organizations, the official said. These animals often end up in shelters.

"There are an awful lot of them. We still deal with hundreds of animals a year that come from puppy and kitten farms. Unfortunately, we do not see that these owners can be punished," said Shelters NGO's Mõisamaa.

Karurahu said charities want the new law to forbid the sale of these animals in commercial premises. "In addition to pet stores, we would like a supporting law that actually tells us what species of animals we can keep," she added.

The new animal protection law will be ready by spring.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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