Animal issues are something that interests many people in Sweden. Animals are of great importance for the production of food and for nature's ecocycle. Many people also have pets or animals as their leisure time interest.
Animal welfare and animal health are important issues for the Minister for Rural Affairs, Eskil Erlandsson, and the Swedish Government.
"Sweden has a long history of working with animal welfare and my ambition is that we continue to be a pioneer in this area," says Mr Erlandsson.
The basic idea of Swedish animal policy is that all animals should feel good, be healthy and be able to behave naturally. This also requires that the environment in which animals live be as animal-friendly as possible. The goal is to maintain good animal welfare among farm animals, pets, experimental animals and wild animals in captivity.
"Animals should have a decent life regardless of whether they are in Malmö, Madrid or Milan. This is why it is extremely important to have good animal welfare legislation in the EU and that the legislation is then fully complied with," underlines Mr Erlandsson.
Agencies responsible for animal issues in Sweden
The agencies that are particularly responsible for animal issues in Sweden are the Swedish Board of Agriculture, the county administrative boards, the National Veterinary Institute and the National Food Administration.
Regulations on animals
Swedish regulations on how animals should be kept and managed are found in the Animal Welfare Act and the Animal Welfare Ordinance. Regulations are also produced by the central agencies responsible for animal welfare issues, primarily the Swedish Board of Agriculture. Sweden works continuously on reviewing the regulatory framework to ensure that the regulations are up to date.
Under the fundamental regulations of the Animal Welfare Act, animals are to be treated well and protected from unnecessary suffering and disease. This includes, for example, providing animals with food and water and sufficient supervision. If an animal is sick or injured, it must be given the necessary care as soon as possible. This may mean needing to visit a veterinary surgeon to have the animal treated.
People looking after animals are also under an obligation to ensure that the animal is looked after and handled so that it feels well. This includes adapting the environment and management of animals so that they are able to behave naturally.
According to the Animal Welfare Act, it is forbidden to overexert animals and to beat them. It is also forbidden to tie them up in such a way that is painful for them. People who infringe these rules can be sentenced to fines or imprisonment for offences against the Animal Welfare Act or for cruelty to animals under the Swedish Penal Code.
Under certain circumstances, a person infringing animal welfare regulations may be forbidden to keep animals. County administrative boards may also decide that the police services are to confiscate the animal or animals. In this case, the county administrative board is to decide what will happen with the confiscated animal and that it should, for example, be taken care of by another person.
The Swedish Board of Agriculture has key responsibility for animal welfare in Sweden and one of its most important tasks is to monitor compliance with animal welfare legislation.
Many municipalities also take special measures, for example, to help homeless cats.