Work has begun in the House of Representatives on the bill on Animal Responsibility. Before being considered in the Oval Office, the document will be submitted for public comment. Maria Vasilevic, a member of the House of Representatives’ Standing Committee on Human Rights, Ethnic Relations and Media, told a BelTA correspondent about the bill’s innovations.
How long does the document take to process?
Work on the bill began in March. Three working group meetings have already taken place. We can say that the working group is very large in composition – about 30 people. They are representatives of all departments, from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to the Attorney General, representatives of human rights organizations, kennels and veterinarians.
– What important innovations does the bill envisage?
– I would say that there are no insignificant moments. Because the law is actually written from the beginning. There are certain legal acts that specifically regulate the rules for walking animals and their maintenance. But such a fundamental document has not yet existed. Of course we are referring to those projects that were developed earlier. This is not the first attempt to draft a bill – such attempts were made in 2001, 2015 and 2017. But, unfortunately, there were times when no agreement was reached between the departments, so he returned again for review. International experience was studied, especially Kazakhstan and Russia. All this is included in the document.
If we talk about the main provisions, then the law as a comprehensive legal act covers absolutely all areas. Here we are talking about pets, that is, about our usual pets and about animals used in cultural activities, in the field of natural culture and sports, service and laboratory animals. In this regard, there are many rules that will govern the relationship with them. First of all, we establish the principle of humanity, ensuring the safety of people who come in contact with animals, both owners and just walking on the street. That is, we try to take into account the views of all participants in these relationships. Probably the most discussed will be the rules regarding pets, since most of the public will face exactly these rules.
– Will the document be submitted for public debate?
– Undoubtedly. We hope that the drafting of the bill will be completed soon. And after all the articles are written, we will submit the document for public discussion according to the standard format – at pravo.by. More than one working group will then meet to discuss proposals received from citizens.
– It is safe to say that this bill will have a great impact on society. Are there stricter requirements for pet owners?
– It is too early to say for sure that it will be so. But, indeed, the plans are to focus on a responsible attitude, first of all, on the part of the pet owners. Mandatory dog walk in designated places with a leash and use of muzzles from a certain height of the dog. Although the rule for the leash and the muzzle already exists in a resolution of the Council of Ministers of 2001. But, unfortunately, it was not always fulfilled. I hope that the weight of a regulatory act as a law will continue to have the right impact on society and that people will follow these rules that have been in place for more than a year.
Furthermore, given the resolution that the Council of Ministers is currently working on together with the housing and community services (and these are the rules for keeping pets and cats), which is now undergoing final examinations, we are of course correlating these rules when drawing up the account. There are already prescribed rules for mandatory cutting and sterilization. These are exactly the same questions that provoke intense debate in society. Many do not agree with compulsory sterilization, so we will discuss it with the public. But as for the chip, here all the sections agree that, of course, it is necessary to identify the animals to avoid cases where people take a pet and six months later throw it on the street as unnecessary, and we can not Find a negligent owner and ask for responsibilities. And the introduction of the microchip within 10 days or a month from the date of purchase of a puppy or cat will not allow the owner to throw the pet on the street, because we will be able to identify the owner and call him to account.
Many questions arise about keeping large numbers of animals in skyscrapers. Will anything change here?
Exactly the same, our next working group will deal with the article that regulates the number of animals in the apartment. There is currently a limit of two pets per apartment. This is also a debatable issue. We studied foreign legislation. There is also a positive practice when there is no strict restriction, but there is such a wording for the need to comply with health and veterinary rules. In other words, the number of animals in the apartment is not limited, but veterinary rules must be observed. At present, this issue is still under discussion.
– It is clear that any rule can be set in law, but no less acute, probably, is the issue of developing a responsible attitude towards pets. How can we instill this culture in society?
– If we want to change this situation and cultivate a humane, responsible attitude towards animals, then we must write a law that will not only adapt to the current state of affairs, but will highlight the right attitude towards animals in society. Maybe at first it will seem to someone very strict, inapplicable in practice. But, I think, we will find those formulations of the provisions which can, after some time, lead to the fact that in one or two generations there will be a conscious human attitude towards animals and their health, and to the understanding that they also feel pain and that we have to take responsibility for our younger siblings. It is very pleasing that a lot of attention has been paid lately. My personal view is that these people who show cruelty to animals can then show it to humans. Of course, this is not the main issue on today’s agenda, but in my opinion, it is important, especially in the long run.
– Can we already talk about some conditions for the preparation of the bill?
– I can point out that within a few months we must complete the development of this document by a working group in order to submit it further for public debate and then submit it to the House of Representatives.