Changing thanks to communication!

Nowadays, in almost all organisations there are two words which are used very often: change and communication. This is also true in the FCI.

Change is a natural evolution process and should always be kept in mind, any time! Otherwise the organisation is not working on a quality and stable future…

A few examples of what we should do:

  • interfere more and more in healthy and welfare issues for our dogs, which are part of our society, and especially cooperate with welfare organisations;
  • always keep the quality of our dogs at high level

Read more

Gerard Jipping
FCI Treasurer
Interview with Marlene Wartenberg, Director, Four Paws/Vier Pfoten

Introducing Four Paws’ mission

The vision of FOUR PAWS/VIER PFOTEN is a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. Our mission is to be a strong, global and independent voice for animals under human control, by

  • creating sustainable solutions for animals in need,
  • touching hearts, changing consumer behaviour,
  • driving legal change and
  • building powerful partnerships.

Is there an equivalent of your organisation in other continents?

I wouldn’t speak of an equivalent. FOUR PAWS was founded in Austria as a small local animal welfare organisation and grew up to an international animal welfare organisation with offices in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. For specific missions/projects like our neutering projects for stray animals (SAC) or Disaster Relief (also including saving owned and unowned dogs) we take action all around in different continents, taking care of almost all species of animals. There are also several other international acting animal welfare organisations, but FOUR PAWS is the only continental, European-based international acting animal welfare organisation.

Are there many differences between European countries in their approach?

This is a rather complex question and it would need more space to give at least a minimum of a satisfying answer, but I will try to give an overview. At one hand there is in fact a basic common European understanding of Animal Welfare laid down in the legal bases of the EU: in Art 13 Lisbon Treaty/Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) in the first sentence: animals are expressively defined as “sentient beings”. However there are still different approaches with regard to the cultural-political history of Member States and the legal system. This is also laid down in the same article: ‘religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage’ have to be considered. Unfortunately these derogations are not operational as there are no legal definitions and this has to be developed in law.

With regard to dogs we can see a certain north-south and east-west gradient, for sure you know the canine and feline overpopulation. And unfortunately in some Member States there is a big business behind, and even organised crime, that makes it hard to realise (existing and financed) sustainable solution. Furthermore, in some Member States, due to the legal-historic different systems, it is allowed to kill a healthy animal – not only for nutrition or products, also when there are too many animals e.g. in a shelter, but this is in the meantime not any more an accepted method and in most of the continental European Member States killing a healthy animal is strictly prohibited. In particular some of the new Member States have in their new animal welfare laws forbidding the mass killing of dogs, called ‘euthanasia’ what is not the correct term - as it was discussed in several conferences of experts - and have even strategies implemented e.g. in Bulgaria. But then the enforcement of the law is another story. This different understanding leads sometimes to problems. And more than this, as mentioned it is also leading to a bad business behind stray animals or farmed puppies or illegal breed for dog fights.

What would be your organisation and FCI’s common ground?

We both respect dogs as admirable animals who are close to us, Humans. And we believe in Dog responsible Ownership. This means, we both want

  • no dog suffering
  • no dog living in the streets
  • no unowned and abandoned dogs
  • only owned dogs kept by well educated and informed owners
  • only serious breeders – no illegal breeding
  • only minimum trade of dogs and legal one

This means I see a big challenge for us both to work against the illegal puppy farming causing enormous suffering for the animals and overwhelming Europe with dogs by very often ill animals and/or dogs, as they are separated from their mother not to be socialised. We have to inform the clients and convince them not to buy a dog in a supermarket, in a free market or in a parking place or through any other doubtful source, e.g. in the internet.

What are your priorities currently?

At the moment we are working on the three networks and websites initiated and created by us with current prominent partners:, and the enforcement network

We support our international awareness campaign against illegal puppy Trade and we are preparing strategies for an EU labelling of products containing processed eggs. We are preparing an experts’ conference on “Wild animals in captivity – welfare, law and enforcement” on 19 June this year in Brussels with the Born Free Foundation and, of course, the running business is our usual political consulting in several committees of the EU Commission and the umbrella organisation Eurogroup for animals. In general we are the Animal Welfare Organisation in Brussels looking particularly on the EU enforcement issue of law (see the respective website with lots of information).

What would be the biggest threats / opportunities for dogs in nowadays society?

Dogs are our best and faithful friends – and the oldest domesticated animals.

But let us start with the wrong perspective: one part of the threats I have already pointed out, is, when dogs are not seen as ‘sentient beings’ but as not only things or toys that can be thrown away, but even as a kind of ‘garbage’ in the streets (for example, in some Member States the garbage Company of the municipality is in fact collecting stray dogs in the streets), or they are killed in a cruel way, poisoned, beaten. The other threat is just the opposite, to impose them the role of a human person such as a child or a partner and to put accessories on them that are normally worn by us such as fashion clothes, hats, glasses... Our best friends are sentient beings of their own and we - the humans - have to learn and to know their natural behaviour, their needs and their breed-driven character. Then dogs are not only our companions for walks and playing and having a good communication, they are important for our soul and our mental health. More than this, there are science-based studies that prove that dogs can concretely strengthen the physical health of humans (there were interesting presentations during FCI’s symposium in Brussels, in November 2011). The also have an increasing role as therapists. Also FOUR PAWS has such a project: we are (professionally) selecting mixed and breed dogs, even out of stray dogs, and are educating them as therapy dogs. We go with them to autistic children in Romania, to elderly people in homes and hospitals, to schools so that children learn how to meet a dog. Dogs are also serving us by finding drugs at the borders, as guardians to us, to our houses and to herds of sheep, as they do since at least ten thousand years. So we should recognise them as the valuable and wonderful animals they are.

Let me close with a quote I really love from Konrad Lorenz, the Austrian scientist and behaviourist: “ The wish to keep an animal has its source in a deep ancient motivation: the desire of a civilised human for the paradise”.

What kind of events do you organise and for what kind of public?

At the EU level we organise expert conferences with EU decision makers, competent authorities, veterinarians, lawyers, NGOs and other interest groups in order to share knowledge and find solution strategies (see our website: category “conferences”). We organise Roundtables and working groups on these issues.

Can you tell us about CAROdog?

The goal of the website is to strengthen dog responsible ownership and to stop suffering of dogs in the streets – the final goal is to have an appropriate number of dogs in the society, i.e. only owned dogs. We provide fact-based information in a structured way for the ingredients of dog responsible ownership:

  1. education, information, training
  2. veterinary prevention
  3. systematic birth control
  4. identification and registration in a compatible EU system
  5. licenced and registered breeders (to detect the serious ones)
  6. only legal trade

We are currently changing the layout of our national legal profiles to make them user-friendly so that the user can better compare the different national legal systems and rules for dogs in EU Member States. By May 1st we hope it will be available.