Austria-Federal Act on the Protection of Animals

This is a short discussion on Austrian animal welfare law in general and this legislation in particular. I address certain parts of the legislation that is interesting to cat lovers and keepers and provide a link to the full text.

The full title is: Federal Act on the Protection of Animals (Animal Protection Act – TSchG) (Act). Note: I refer to a translation of the Act. It is probably a good one but I cannot vouch for it.

This Federal Act does not affect provisions of other federal acts of protection of animals, in particular:

1. the Animal Experiments Act, Federal Law Gazette No. 501/1989,
2. the Animal Transportation Act-Road, Federal Law Gazette No. 411/1994,
3. the Animal Transportation Act-Air, Federal Law Gazette No. 152/1996, 4. the Animal Transportation Act-Railway, Federal Law Gazette No. 43/1998, in their up-to date versions.

Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt, Austria – photo Philip Bouchard (Flickr)

First Aid
Keeping of Animals
Freedom of Movement

Prohibition of cruelty to animals

My immediate impression with this legislation is that it is specific and precise, a good quality. It also bans declawing, which pleases me immensely. It defines what animal cruelty is in section 5.

This section/paragraph starts with:

5. (1) It is prohibited to inflict unjustified pain, suffering or injury on an animal or expose it to heavy fear. (2) Para 1 is violated in particular if a person…..then a long list of violations follow, which are:

1. breeds animals which either directly themselves or their descendants will suffer from heavy pain, suffering, injury or heavy fear (inhumane breeding practices); or imports, purchases or passes on such animals with features resulting from inhumane breeding practices;

2. increases aggressiveness and fighting readiness of animals by one-sided breeding selection or other methods;

3. a) uses spike collars, coral type pronged collar, or animal training devices using electricity or chemical substances, or b) uses technical equipment, devices or auxiliary means aiming at influencing animal behaviour by severe approach or punishment incentives;

4. sets animals on other animals or trains them to be aggressive towards another animal;

5. organizes or performs animal fights;

6. organizes dog races on asphalt or other hard-covered terrain;

7. administers stimulants or doping substances to an animal in order to increase its performance, in particular during sports competitions or similar events;

8. uses an animal for film shots, advertising, exhibition or similar purposes or events if this is involved with pain, suffering, injury or heavy fear for the animal;

9. demands from an animal any performance obviously involved with pain, suffering, injury or heavy fear for the animal;

10. exposes an animal to temperatures, weather conditions, lack of oxygen or restriction of free movement inflicting pain, suffering, injury or heavy fear on the animal;

11. offers an animal food or substances the ingestion of which is obvious to involve pain, suffering, injury or heavy fear for the animal;

12. forces the animal to ingest food or substances, as long as this is not necessary for reasons of veterinary medicine;

13. is negligent with regard to accommodation, feeding and care of an animal he keeps, in a way to involve pain, suffering or injury for the animal or to put it in a state of heavy fear;

14. abandons or leaves a domestic or pet animal or a not indigenous Wild animal kept by him, in order to get rid of it;

15. severs limbs from live animals;

16. uses catching devices in a way not catching unharmed or not killing immediately. (3) Not considered to be infractions of para 1 are 1. measures necessary on grounds of veterinary medicine or otherwise taken for the well-being of the animal, 2. measures taken in compliance with regulations of veterinary medicine, 3. measures indispensable for professional pest control or for control of epidemics, 4. training measures for police and military forces dogs for which coral type pronged collars are used by specially trained persons, maintaining the principle of adequacy. A coral collar is understood to be a collar consisting of metal links with laryngeal protection, equipped with rounded metal pins protruding at an angle and of at least 3,5 mm diameter.

Animals are defined as:

2. Domestic animals: domesticated animals of the genuses cattle, pig, sheep, goat and horse, always with the exception of exotic species, as well as Old World and New World camels, water buffaloes, domestic rabbits, domestic dogs, domestic cats, domestic poultry and domesticated fish;

3. Pets: animals kept within a household as companions or because of interest in the animal, as far as domestic or domesticated animals of the orders of carnivores, rodents, lagomorphs, parrots, finches (fringillidae) and pigeon-like birds (columbiformes), as well as the class of fish are concerned;

4. Wild animals: all animals except domestic and pet animals;

5. Hoofed game: red deer, fallow deer, sika nippon deer, Pere David’s

In addition, at para 7 it includes those all important provisions prohibiting what some veterinarians do in other countries and I am referring in particular the USA….

Prohibited interventions performed on animals

§ 7. (1) Interventions carried out for other than therapeutic or diagnostic purposes or for the expert marking of animals in accordance with legal regulations applicable, are prohibited, in particular

1. operations aiming at changing the phenotypic appearance of an animal, 2. the docking of tails,
3. the cropping of ears,
4. devocalisation;
5. declawing and defanging,
6. the trimming of beaks, (2) Exceptions to these prohibitions shall be permitted only

1. to prevent reproduction or

2. if the intervention is indispensable for the intended use of the animal, for its protection or for the protection of other animals; such interventions shall be defined in the regulation according to § 24 para 1 subpara 1.

(3) Unless not provided otherwise by regulation in accordance with § 24 para 1 subpara 1, interventions in which an animal will or is likely to experience severe pain shall be carried out only by a veterinarian and only after effective anaesthesia and with postoperative treatment of pain. Interventions for which no anaesthesia is required may also be carried out by any other expert person. Type and proof of expert skill shall be governed by the regulation in accordance with § 24 para 1 subpara 1.

(4) The use of rubber rings, cauterisation sticks and cauterisation lotions is prohibited.

There is a nice paragraph that places an obligation on a person to administer first aid to animal or to arrange first aid if a person has “recognisably hurt or jeopardized an animal…”

Obligation to grant first aid

§ 9. Who has recognisably hurt or jeopardized an animal shall, to the extent he can reasonably be expected to do so, grant the necessary first aid to the animal, or, if this is not possible, arrange for such first aid.

Para 13 deals with the principles behind the keeping of animals and reflects the general rules within Europe on this subject:

Principles governing the keeping of animals

§ 13. (1) No animal shall be kept unless it can reasonably be expected, on the basis of its genotype or phenotype, that it can be kept according to the state of the art of scientific knowledge without detrimental effect on its well-being.

(2) Who keeps any animals shall ensure that the space, freedom of movement, condition of the ground, structural equipment of buildings and facilities in which they are kept, the climate, in particular light and temperature, care and food, as well as the possibility for social contacts in consideration of the species, age and degree of development, adaptation and domestication of animals corresponds to their physiologic and ethologic needs.

(3) Animals are to be kept in a way that their physical functions and their behaviour are not disturbed and their ability to adapt is not overstrained.

An application needs to be made for the keeping of wild animals:

Wild animals….may only be kept in compliance with the prerequisites imposed on basis of a report on the keeping of a wild animal to be made to the authority within two weeks….(Para 22 of Section 2)

The killing of animal is governed by para 6:

§ 6. (1) It is prohibited to kill animals without proper reason. (2) It is prohibited to kill dogs or cats for the purpose of manufacturing food or other products. (this is not the whole para)

I am particularly interested in 6(2). It is not widely known that feral cats euthanised in shelters in the USA are sometimes used to supply pet food manufacturers. This legislation would prevent that if it could be established that killing feral cats could be avoided at shelters which Gary Winograd says should be be case.

I would have thought that para 16 would put the fear of God into some cat breeders as many breeders keep their cats caged outside in relatively small enclosures:

Freedom of movement

§ 16. The freedom of movement of an animal must not be restricted in any way as to inflict any unnecessary pain, suffering or injury or heavy fear. (2) The animal must have such space available adequately corresponding to its physiologic and ethologic needs…….

Indoor/outdoor cats that are common to the UK would seem to fall foul of section/para 19:

§ 19. Animals temporarily or permanently not kept in buildings shall where necessary and possible be given protection from adverse weather conditions, predators and other risks to their well-being

How would this legislation apply to people who let their cats out near roads? It seems to encourage large enclosures when read with section 16 above.

Section/para 22 deals with breeding including of course cat breeding:

Breeding methods

§ 22. (1) Natural or artificial breeding or breeding methods which cause or are likely to negatively affect the well-being of animals for a longer period of time or permanently, must not be practised.

(2) This provision does not exclude the application of procedures causing only slight or temporary negative effect to the animals’ well-being. The Federal Minister for Health and Women is authorized to issue, on basis of the objectives and other provisions of the subject Federal Act as well as of the recognized state of the art of scientific knowledge, a regulation which methods and procedures of breeding animals are definitely prohibited. As far as animals for farm purposes are concerned such regulation requires the assent of the Federal Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, Environment and Water Economy,

The breeding of flat faced Persians would be outlawed under this provision in my opinion – see Persian cat health problems. Siamese would be at risk too: Siamese cat health problems.

Chapter 4 deals with penalties.

Penal and final provisions Penal provisions

§ 38. (1) Persons who

1. contrary to § 5 inflict pain, suffering, injury or heavy fear on an animal or

2. kills an animal contrary to § 6 orent 3. carries out interventions on an animal contrary to § 7 or 4. violates § 8 commits an administrative offence and shall be punished by the authority by being imposed a fine of up-to 7,500 euros, in case of a repeated offence up-to 15,000 euros.

(2) A heavy case of cruelty to animals shall be fined with at least 2,000 euros.

These are considerably lower than those of the UK because imprisonment is not a punishment. The fines are also lower.

See the full text of the Act by clicking on this link.  Page opens in a new window.

From Austria-Federal Act on the Protection of Animals to Cats and Law

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