Flemish Council for Animal Welfare launched


From veterinarians to shelter workers, Flanders’ first Council for Animal Welfare is made up of a varied group of actors tasked with ensuring that animals are treated well both in industry and in society

Diverse stakeholders

The Flemish Council for Animal Welfare, an advisory body to the government of Flanders, has held its first session. The Council was established last year, after animal welfare became the responsibility of the regions rather than the state.

According to a statement, all stakeholders are represented in the new council, including veterinarians, industry, consumers and animal rights workers. Two changes from the previous federal council are representatives from animal shelters and the distribution sector.

The council includes animal shelter representatives from each province as they often have different priorities. Limburg, for example, has trouble with neglect of horses, while cattle are a huge industry in West Flanders.

The distribution sector is also represented for the first time, through the trade federation Comeos. This sector can play an important role, according to Flemish animal welfare minister Ben Weyts. “Think, for example, of supermarket chains that don’t sell battery-cage eggs or meat from surgically castrated pigs,” he said.

Chair of the council is science and ethics professor Dirk Lips of the University of Leuven, who also chaired the federal council. Together with four other scientists, his task is to ensure that the advice of the body is scientifically founded.

Weyts is expecting that the council will make help make Flanders a European frontrunner in animal welfare issues.

Photo courtesy Ingimage