Dear Readers

Before all, I seize the opportunity of this very first e-newsletter of the year 2016 to wish you a healthy and happy year 2016.

As usual, this year will be full of thrilling events which we all long for! The FCI World Dog Show will take place in Moscow and the different FCI Section Shows will be held in Brussels (FCI European Section Show), Bogota (FCI Americas and Caribbean Section Show) and Jakarta (FCI Asia and Pacific Section Show).

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Yves De Clercq
FCI Executive Director
Interview with Pierre Sultana, Director, FOUR PAWS/VIER PFOTEN

Introducing FOUR PAWS’ mission

The vision of FOUR PAWS/VIER PFOTEN is a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. Our mission is to be a strong, global and independent voice for animals under human control, by

  • creating sustainable solutions for animals in need,
  • touching hearts, changing consumer behaviour,
  • driving legal change and
  • building powerful partnerships.

FOUR PAWS is an international animal welfare organisation with offices in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, South Africa, United Kingdom, the United States and, more recently, Australia.

Hello Pierre,
In 2013, we interviewed Marlene Wartenberg, your predecessor as director of FOUR PAWS (Brussels) (
Welcome in your new role! Could you please tell us what's distinctive about the offices of FOUR PAWS Belgium – European Policy Office, located in Brussels, as compared with the offices in other countries / on other continents?

Hello Marie. First of all, I wish to thank you for giving me the opportunity of providing further detail on the work of the organisation that employs me, and more specifically on our European affairs office. Thank you for your good wishes, too!

FOUR PAWS is an international organisation that seeks to advance the animals' well-being through practical solutions for the benefit of animals. Our work is dedicated to both campaigns and projects. Our campaigns aim at changing mentalities, practices and laws. Our projects, for their part, serve two objectives: show there's a sustainable solution to any given problem, and provide solutions that take laws or mentalities forward in a particular country or set of countries. Campaigns and projects thus go hand in hand. In order to get the slaughter of stray dogs banned in Eastern Europe countries and to avert disease-related risks, we conduct massive campaigns aimed at catch, vaccinate, neuter, release dogs into their original environment, which is the only efficient solution, according to experts, to manage these canine populations, if accompanied by a better education of dog owners, as well as an adjustment of dog breeding to the demand and to the capacity of families to adopt these dogs. Moreover, upon achieving a ban on a number of animal abuse practices involving bears in those same Eastern European countries – such as dancing bears or bear baiting for the training of dogs – or getting non-compliant zoos prohibited, we have managed to take bears in our sanctuaries, where they are freed from their lives of torment and can end their days in peace. All of our national offices thus seek to advance animal welfare through campaigning and offering sustainable solutions for animal benefit.
Just like all other FOUR PAWS departments, our European Policy Office mainly works on such topics as wildlife, pet and farm animal issues. Unlike the rest of our colleagues, our work isn't confined within the borders of one country in particular: our action is spread across the European Union. What's more, we are specialists in the European decision-making process. This is why we are based in Brussels, the city that hosts the European institutions. Consequently, we are mainly busy with interest representation, in order to prompt European policies to take better account of the welfare of animals. We are legal and political experts. Our projects, the European Enforcement Network of Animal Welfare Lawyers ( and our platform promoting the responsible ownership of dogs ( and cats ( , reflect the legal and political dimension of our drive.

What are your current priorities within FOUR PAWS?

FOUR PAWS' priorities are not restricted to pets. Thus, one of our key priorities is to have the breeding of lions for the purpose of canned hunting brought to an end ( In 2016, we will also focus on bears, including those that are kept in cages in Asia for the purpose of extracting bile, which is used as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine, as well as on geese and ducks, which undergo live-plucking for the bedding industry.
As far as pets themselves are concerned, we're going to tackle the online trade of animals – of dogs, in particular. Purebred French Bulldog puppies, for example, are mass-produced in Eastern Europe, then sent to Western Europe, where the unvaccinated puppies are marketed online via classified ads (some of which boast of being FCI-labelled). The puppies are then quickly sold below market price. The conditions in which those puppies were born, plus the long and painful journey they have to endure before being sold, often lead to the puppies catching infectious diseases such as parvovirus, or suffering genetic disorders. The lack of socialisation can also result in behavioural issues which may require behavioural and veterinary treatment in the future. So we keep in touch with those classifieds websites, requesting them to take steps towards removing those risks and facilitating responsible animal selling and purchasing practices.
It is essential for a relationship to be established from the very beginning between the dog and his future owner. Unfortunately, such relationships cannot be established remotely. This is also a way of pushing unscrupulous sellers, which are detrimental to decent breeders, out of the market. The second line of work will focus on the pet trade traffic, including the channels through which pets are taken across the EU's internal borders, resulting in European markets being flooded with low-priced puppies with diseases, genetic faults or severe behavioural problems. That task will be carried out as part of our struggle for an improved traceability of pets, in particular as concerns their identification and registration, as recommended by our expert panel on canine traceability (

What events do you organise this year, that prioritise topics of concern for the dog world?

Four Paws' event calendar is available under

What would be your organisation and FCI’s common ground? Have new areas of concern emerged?

FCI and FOUR PAWS certainly share one big concern: our love and passion for dogs. We want dogs to be happy, because a happy dog always comes with a happy owner. It cannot be in anyone's interest to let diseased dogs proliferate in Europe, for there is a danger of seeing the public be repelled by and shun dogs.
Thus, it is our reciprocal duty to rule out any stakeholder that doesn't comply with the basic breeding requirements of health, well-being and socialisation of pets, so that in the end, only responsible breeders and buyers can be in charge of the dogs and their world.

What would be the biggest threats and opportunities for dogs in nowadays society?

Let us start with the threats… Definitely the fact that some people reduce dogs to marketable goods. For sure, breeding is a business, and as any business, it entails a commercial or financial dimension. What's not natural, on the other hand, is that some people put profits above the welfare and health of the dogs they breed.
The various national laws increasingly recognise that animals have intrinsic value. Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU defines animals as sentient beings, which should be enough to distinguish them from objects. Unfortunately, the facts sometimes tell a different story: some unscrupulous breeders seek high yields at all costs, and take no account of the puppies', studs' and bitches' health and welfare. In their keenness to sell low-priced puppies, they often breed diseased animals, or animals that are bound to be abandoned due to poor socialisation or behavioural issues. The main threat, as is often the case, is human-related. Lack of accountability, lack of education in purchasers, dogs bought on impulse, etc.

The dogs' best hope would undoubtedly be to have a responsible owner. But first and foremost, owners must be identified. Dogs are made to undergo too much abuse, starting with abandonment. Achieving our goal requires a standardised European-wide identification and registration system. There appear to be too many loopholes in the current systems for them to be effective. This is one of the main reasons behind the existence of our website, CAROdog.

What about the project FOUR PAWS launched a few years ago, in which dogs were part of therapy programmes such as visiting seniors in retirement homes and hospitals, or schoolchildren, who you make acquainted with dogs?

It's a wonderful project that started out in Romania in 2004, and it's going on well. We keep helping an ever-growing number of people who suffer from health conditions or have all kinds of difficulties.
Better still, it has gained new momentum recently, with the opening of our own animal-assisted therapy centre in Bucharest last January 28th. Within this infrastructure, former stray dogs that have become therapy dogs will help up to 50 children with disabilities or learning impairments. For instance, the children will be given the opportunity to gain self-confidence by learning how to feed and reward the dogs. Care is provided free of charge to all young patients, since the centre is fully funded by donations. So this is a win-win situation for both humans and dogs, one in which stray dogs can demonstrate their usefulness in a country that doesn't pay them due respect and more often than not gives them a hard time. This canine therapy centre is the first of its kind in Romania – a country that is affected by street dog overpopulation.

What can you tell about the encounter between FOUR PAWS and FCI in Thuin in December 2015?

First of all, thank you for welcoming us. Having the opportunity to meet you, Mr De Santiago and Mr De Clercq was a great honour. It was a first for FOUR PAWS – and a first-class encounter between our two organisations, since the Director of our team in charge of pets was present, too.
So we had a chance to get deeper insight into the FCI's operational framework, and to introduce the Fédération with our operating mode and activities. Better still, we were able to identify avenues to explore together. One of these avenues has to do with the identification and registration of dogs. Decision was also made to give common thought to the definition of the breeder's role and investigate all other matters on which we could collaborate in the future.

Pierre, thank you for this interview. The best of luck in FOUR PAWS' projects!

Thank you, Marie.

Interview by Marie Luna Durán, FCI Marketing and Public Relations Manager