Brussels, 1 March 2012 – Pets not only bring pleasure to life in the form of companionship; they can also help save lives through disease detection and can assist people with potentially life-threatening health conditions.
This was the main message during yesterday’s 7th edition of European Pet Night which assembled more than 160 European decision-makers, animal health and welfare associations and related stakeholders in the Bibliothèque Solvay. The event helped showcase how pets contribute to society as a whole and what Europe can do to improve responsible pet ownership.
IFAH-Europe Managing Director Declan O’Brien said: “Training dogs to detect diseases or assist individuals who live with dangerous health conditions can help stimulate innovation in non-invasive diagnosis, but more importantly it can save lives. This is just one example of the great value companion animals have to society and underlines that pets deserve continuous care from both policy-makers and the general public.”
The 16 partner organisations of European Pet Night - all active in animal health and welfare issues - displayed their continued efforts to promote responsible pet ownership and invited Claire Guest from Medical Detection Dogs to present the pioneering work the UK Charity has undertaken in terms of training dogs to alert people with serious health conditions, but also on the cancer detection front. A demonstration took place to show how dogs work to spot prostate cancer.
Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Dr Horst Schnellhardt, who co-hosted the event, commented “This European Pet Night clearly communicated the numerous benefits of healthy pets. Although the recently published European Animal Welfare Strategy makes no direct reference to dogs and cats, it is clear that the 195 million pets in Europe deserve our utmost attention. As a veterinarian, I have seen the joy and support pets bring to their owners. Responsible pet ownership should be strongly encouraged across Europe.”
Co-host and MEP Ms Iratxe García Pérez continued: “Pet health and welfare across Europe is a central element of responsible pet ownership and in this regard equal access to all relevant medicines across Europe is key. The revision of the veterinary Directive, planned to go into co-decision in late 2012, should ensure that if a medicine is licensed according to the Directive in one country, it should be available in all countries to the benefit of pet health and welfare.”