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4 October is World Animal Day

Today, we celebrate World Animal Day. It is intended to raise awareness among the general public about animals as sentient beings and the necessity of caring for them responsibly and in a way that does not cause them pain, suffering and fear.

A consultation on animal welfare took place today at the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia, which was co-organised by the newly founded National Centre for Animal Welfare and the Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Food Safety, Veterinary Sector and Plant Protection (UVHVVR). The consultation was opened by Alojz Kovšca, the President of the National Council, and was attended by Minister Irena Šinko and Matjaž Guček, the Director-General of the UVHVVR.

Two cats

World Animal Day - a special opportunity for everyone who cares about animals | Author Tamino Petelinšek/STA

Various stakeholders, including guests from abroad (Federation of Veterinarians of Europe and the European Commission), exchanged their views regarding the treatment of animals, and the vision and challenges for the future.

"Animals in the care of people, either as pets or farmed animals, are gradually being understood as sentient beings, and not simply as things, possessions, decoration or means of production. Animal welfare is a topical theme and attracts the attention of public and various European and domestic institutions. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food has also recognised the protection and welfare of animals as an exceptionally important part of sustainable agriculture," Minister Šinko emphasised in her opening address.

Throughout its history, humankind has evolved in coexistence with animals. If we keep, breed and use animals for our good, then it is our moral duty to take care of them in a way that does not cause them unnecessary suffering. The ethical treatment of animals is being displayed today in the legislation of numerous countries and the European Union is in many respects at the forefront in this field. Slovenia has written down in its substantive legislation and the legislation governing animal protection that animals are sentient beings.

"The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food supports the raising of animal welfare standards by actively co-designing agricultural policies. Financial support is earmarked for animal health, which subsequently enhances the public veterinary service, as one of the key services in ensuring animal welfare in Slovenia. The Ministry also drafts amendments to regulations governing responsible ownership of animals and prescribing the obligations of animal keepers. Drafting of legislation that can be implemented must be based on scientific findings, expertise, modern technological achievements and finally the broadest dialogue. By establishing the National Centre for Animal Welfare, which is co-organising today’s consultation, we further highlight the importance of a wide dialogue on animal welfare in public," the Minister noted.

In addition to legislation, the culture of treatment of animals is also important, i.e. all the habits that are passed on from generation to generation through education. The culture ensures that people’s attitude towards animals improves over time. The culture of treatment of animals can be improved by every new generation by refining the way they think about animals. It is crucial that young people develop compassion, which can be attained by acquiring the correct attitude towards animals in early childhood within the family, kindergarten, school, local community, and first and foremost, by being set an example. Every person must understand what suffering means for animals and strive not to cause it. Furthermore, everyone must be aware when an animal’s life is good enough.

"As the most important branch in Slovenian agriculture, livestock farming has great significance when ensuring safe and high-quality food and plays a vital role in preserving the cultural landscape and environmental protection. Livestock farming is the most important branch of agriculture, as the proportion of livestock production in the entire agricultural production has amounted to between 43 and 47 per cent in recent years. To this end, great emphasis has been placed on livestock farming in the 2023–2027 Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan, in which it is proposed that production-related payments are directed particularly towards cattle breeding and rearing of suckler cows across the whole of Slovenia, and dairying and breeding of sheep and goats in mountainous areas. One per cent of the national envelope for direct payments is anticipated to be earmarked for animal production, which denotes EUR 1.3 million at an annual level," Minister Šinko explained.