Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Brussels bans sale of all animals at markets

10:15 15/05/2024

The Brussels parliament has approved two proposals by MP Victoria Austraet (Independent) that will improve animal welfare.

The first ordinance bans the sale of live animals at markets, fairs and exhibitions. The second makes clear that anyone who keeps animals confined in small spaces or attached for long periods of time will be sanctioned.

Austraet’s proposals were co-signed by several majority and opposition party members. The first text, which targets the use of animals as potential pets as well as farmyard animals, was backed by the Brussels Council for Animal Welfare.

It extends the ban introduced almost 40 years ago on the sale of dogs and cats at markets, fairs and exhibitions, to all animals. Introduced to prevent impulse buying, the consensus was that such restrictions should apply to other animals as well.

Austraet, a well-known campaigner for animal rights, said most complaints received by environment authority Brussels Environment’s animal welfare department concern dogs tied to a chain or locked up for a long time in poor conditions.

The second decree will give more powers to the police and animal inspectors to intervene when they hear complaints of animal cruelty.

Until now, veterinary inspectors had no legal basis under which to issue reports. An exemption is made for approved animal establishments where animals are housed for a short time and when these centres are already subject to a legal framework.

These tougher rules to protect animals were welcomed, but they were still small consolation for campaigners. Animal rights association Gaia emphasised that it did not include bans on the sale of fur, foie gras, glue traps or round goldfish bowls.

Meanwhile, on the markets themselves, the reaction from many people was less than positive. Questioned by RTBF, some customers were disappointed, saying they would just buy animals such as hens in specialised shops, but that it would be more expensive.

At one Brussels market, Delto Poultry’s Veerle Deltour, who has sold hens from her Menen business for 60 years, said she did not understand the new restrictions. She told the RTBF her hens were ordered from specialists and treated well.

Wallonia’s policy, under the remit of environment minister Céline Tellier, is to allow each commune to decide how to proceed, she added. Liège’s famous La Batte Sunday market has notably now forbidden all live animal sellers.

Flanders is likely to propose stricter laws too. This news is welcomed by Austraet, who is also on the Ecolo voting list in the forthcoming elections.

She told RTBF that animals were “treated like objects and suffered stress”, that no one knew under what conditions they were taken to market; and that, because of impulse buys, many animals ended up abandoned in refuges, or, worse still, left in parks.

Written by Liz Newmark