This week, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), representing veterinarians from 38 countries, have called upon the governments of European nations to restrict the keeping of exotic animals as pets. Whilst dogs and domestic cats may be the most conventional and numerous companion animals, or ‘pets’, wild animals, such as snakes and lizards, parrots and even meerkats and monkeys, are increasingly in demand across homes in Europe. Wild in nature and often unpredictable, these animals not only require specialised care, but they are potentially dangerous to people, can inflict severe physical injury and transmit harmful diseases. If abandoned, or if they escape, they can pose a threat to the natural environment.
Concerned by the growing demand for exotic animals as pets and the risks to both animals and the public, as well as the increasing demand placed on the veterinary profession to diagnose and treat exotic illnesses, the FVE is advocating the establishment of ‘ Animal Lists’ that restrict and in certain cases, prohibit the keeping of some animal species.
Christophe Buhot, President of the FVE explains, “Veterinarians in Europe are increasingly concerned about the surge in wild and exotic species being kept in the homes of European citizens. People are buying these animals, often without a thought given to their biology, behaviour or living requirements and, unsurprisingly, some of these animals soon become ill, or even die. In addition, some of these animals might even pose a health or safety risk to their keepers. The expectation on veterinary professionals to provide species-specific information and advice accordingly, is high, but, some of these animals are simply not suitable to be kept.” Dr Buhot concludes, “In order to avert the suffering of animals, and these very real threats to the welfare of the public, our members are calling for limitations in exotic animal keeping as the most viable solution.”
Veterinarians are dedicated to actively promoting health and welfare for animals and humans and FVE strongly wishes to collaboratively work with all stakeholders and EU Institutions towards those objectives. Two European countries, Belgium and the Netherlands, have already established a ‘positive list’ of mammals, clarifying which animal species are permitted to be kept by private individuals. The positive list has been incorporated in their national legislation and forms the basis of regulations relating to the import and keeping of these species in Belgium and the Netherlands. It is hoped that other European countries will follow. More....