Suspicion of animals being kept in breach of animal welfare regulations led to 6368 inspection visits in 2016. The number of inspections increased by 350 compared to the previous year. However, the number of actions taken by the authorities had not increased.
The need for actions to be taken by the authorities decreased a little
Even though the number of animal welfare inspections based on suspicion has more than doubled during the last ten years, the proportion of actions taken by the authorities has hardly changed during this time. Previously, nearly every second inspection led to an order or to more urgent action being taken by the animal welfare authority in order to secure the welfare of the animals. During the last two years the trend has changed, and the number of actions taken has no longer risen at the same rate as the number of inspections being carried out. In 2016, action was taken by the authorities in only 36 % of the inspections.
In 28 per cent of the inspections based on suspicion carried out during the reporting year, breaches were observed which led to the animal owner or holder being issued with either an order to correct the deficiencies within a set timeframe or was prohibited from continuing the practices in breach of the animal welfare legislation. The purpose of these measures is to raise the quality of animal care to the minimum level required by law. In addition, serious negligence was detected in 8 % of the inspection visits. Based on the observed issues, the authorities then took urgent action in order to secure the welfare of the animals. In the case of larger animals, such urgent measures in the first instance usually involve giving food and water to the animals and providing them with somebody to look after them. Smaller animals are mostly taken elsewhere for care. If it is not possible or practical to arrange care for the animals, they can also be sold or euthanized.
The most commonly inspected animals are dogs, cats, cattle and horses
The increased number of inspections compared to the previous year was mainly due to an increase in the number of inspections of companion animals. The number of inspections of production animals reported was the same as the previous year (3600), but the number of inspections of companion animals increased by five hundred to 4800. As to the results reported per species it has to be noted that when there are several species at the site inspected, one visit is reported as several different inspections.
Over 60 % of the inspections of companion animals involved dogs, whereas the percentage of cats inspected was close to 30 %. The rest of the inspections of companion animals involved mainly rabbits and rodents, reptiles and fish. Every third inspection of production animals involved cattle. The next most inspected animals were equidae and poultry. Considerable numbers of sheep, pigs and goats were also inspected. In addition to the animals mentioned above, the animal species on the holding was not reported in more than a hundred cases. This group also includes the more unusual targets for inspection, such as for example circuses and zoos.
For owners of companion animals, the percentage of prohibitions or orders given during previous years was 25–26 % of the inspections, and in 2016 the number was 24 %. Negligence requiring immediate action was reported in 11 % of the inspections of companion animals. Prohibitions or orders in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act were issued to holders of production animals in 38 % of the inspections in 2016, which is as many as the previous year. Urgent action had to be taken in less than three per cent of the inspections.