The Flemish parliament on Wednesday unanimously approved a decree imposing tougher rules on animal welfare and stiffer penalties for people who violate them. Animal welfare falls under regional governments following the last State reform. The Minister responsible for this area, Ben Weyts of the New Flemish Alliance, seized upon the required transcription of the 1986 law on Animal Welfare, which was essentially technical, to adapt its content.
Heavier sanctions will now be imposed in Flanders on persons guilty of severe negligence and illtreatment of animals. The maximum penalties for cruelty to animals will be multiplied by three, moving for example, from 6 to 18 months for anyone who repeatedly illtreats or neglects an animal. This means that they now face jail time.
Weyts has also laid the foundation for the creation of a Flemish animal inspection service. The external monitoring of abattoirs has been broadened to allow the administration to use external veterinarians to check animal welfare conditions in abattoirs.
The text provides for a possible ban on electronic dog collars, but not immediately. Weyts first wishes to clarify a number of things by including exceptions for the training of dogs for professional work and behavioural therapy for certain dogs.