TV 2 previously wrote that Animal Protection has experienced an explosion of inquiries from people who now want to get rid of their pets.
Now both the organization and the Green Party (MDG) are calling for measures from the government to make Norwegian pet owners responsible.
They hope it can lead to fewer euthanasia of healthy animals and less access from animals no one takes responsibility for.
Capacity is full
The summer has been a chaotic and stressful period for Animal Protection Norway.
An enormous influx of people who want to get rid of their pets, combined with an increase in the number of homeless animals, has meant that the organization is simply unable to help all animals who need it.
– When we talk to our union representatives in our 26 departments around the country, we find that everyone says the same thing: Capacity is blown.
That’s what the head of Animal Protection Norway, Åshild Roaldset, says on a daily basis.
She is deeply concerned about the developments taking place in society.
– It appears that we have developed an enormous throw-and-use mentality to almost everything in today’s society.
When TV 2 visited Animal Protection Norway’s departments in both Tromsø and Stavanger earlier this summer, we were informed by the volunteers that they had been told by private individuals that they either had to accept the pets or they would be euthanized.
The animals in question were healthy animals that had been acquired during the corona pandemic.
That makes Roaldset react.
Trugar kills pets
– We went to great lengths to help people who cannot take care of their pets in various situations. If, for example, they have to go to an institution or serve a sentence in prison. We rarely have the opportunity to help adults who are going on holiday or who are simply fed up with the animal. It is not acceptable behavior from people, says Roaldset.
She is shocked by the behavior people have to get rid of their animals.
– Our volunteers or animal rescuers are almost taken hostage. Take my animal or I will kill it. It is an enormous mental strain.
Today, it is up to each individual vet whether they wish to agree to the euthanasia of healthy animals or not.
Each individual veterinarian can object to euthanizing healthy animals, if they do not wish to do so.
For example, if the explanation for the killing is that you just got tired of the pet.
Roaldset believes that private individuals have put the vets in a huge predicament.
– The vast majority of veterinarians experience the whole thing as a strain and a big ethical dilemma. They do not wish to kill healthy animals. On the other hand, veterinarians cannot function as a reception center either.
– But if such an owner has come in with his animal, the vet should take care of it and try to get it relocated as soon as possible. You cannot send an animal home with an owner who wants to kill it. There is also something vets are trying: Namely relocation rather than euthanasia.
She receives support from deputy head of MDG, Ingrid Liland.
– Questions about animals appear like ping-pong
MDG’s parliamentary representative Rasmus Hansson raised the increased demand from Animal Protection and similar organizations in a written question to Agriculture and Food Minister Sandra Borch (Sp).
Read the question from Hansson and the answer from the minister here.
It is Borch’s ministry that largely has the ultimate responsibility for animal welfare in Norway.
Afterwards, Liland is not satisfied with the answer her party colleague received from the minister.
– Questions about animals appear like ping-pong for the government. No one will take responsibility for it. It also indicates that the government is not prioritizing this problem, she says.
Liland is particularly dissatisfied with the answer the minister gave about killing pets. The MDG deputy leader fears that Borch does not take the problem seriously.
– It is completely unsustainable for the minister to settle for the fact that we as a society do not have responsibility for pets’ rights and their welfare, but that it should be up to each individual person.
– Borch points to a measure that is easy for him and the government, but we know that there are people who need resources and with that can prevent the killing of healthy pets. There are political measures that can prevent that, she says.
Some of the measures she wishes to be put in place are linked to increased allocations to the organizations that work with the problem and ID marking of pets.
If ID tags are expensive, he believes it could lead to people being forced to take responsibility.
– Animals have intrinsic value and must have legal protection. It’s just a matter of political will and how high the government placed animal welfare on the agenda, she says.
Demand responsibility from pet owners
TV 2 has presented the criticism from the MDG deputy leader to the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Sandra Borch.
In a comment through the press department of the ministry, Borch writes that the increased incidence of pet dumping shows that too many pet owners are not aware of or care about the responsibility they have.
– The state does not, and cannot, take over the responsibility for all pets from owners who can no longer or do not wish to take care of their animals, she writes.
She believes that the owners must, to a greater extent, familiarize themselves with what applies when they take on the responsibility as a pet owner, both practically and financially.
The minister does not respond to the criticism surrounding euthanasia.
But she announces that the government will come up with a Storting report on animal welfare.
Expect the minister to listen to his own words
Roaldset in Animal Protection Norway is also dissatisfied with the answer from the minister regarding euthanasia and pets’ rights.
Annually, Animal Protection Norway spends around NOK one million on animal welfare material for the school board. In addition, the organization spent an estimated NOK 25 million on homeless animals in 2022.
In return, the organization received NOK 400,000 from the state budget.
– This is money we as a voluntary organization have collected. Now we are very excited about whether the Minister of Agriculture and Food will get on the road and start attitude-creating work or whether the answer she gave the MDG’s representative is completely irrelevant, she says.
In the same way as the MDG deputy leader, she also wants mandatory ID marking of pets.
She believes that this first and foremost reduces the problem associated with the dumping of pets and that pet owners can be prosecuted in cases where poor animal husbandry is the case.
She also believes that it can strengthen the administration.
– As it is today, it is difficult to properly supervise when you do not know who owns the animals. It’s hosted like a Donald Duck inspection. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority currently has few tools to deal with the problem.
Roaldset is concerned that the politicians have not understood how important it is to get ID-marked pets.
She says there is great reluctance in the political environment, but that they have not understood the problem.
– We would like the ministry to listen to the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s own explanation regarding ID marking.
– Cats and rabbits that starve to death when autumn and winter approach, we would never have allowed if it concerned farm animals. It is strange that we accept it when it concerns pets, says Roaldset.
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