Recently the Verkhovna Rada ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals. It was supported by 355 MPs out of 405 registered in the parliament. None of them voted against, none of them abstained and it was a nearly unanimous decision. Certainly, this convention is important. The clarification for “The bill on ratification of the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals” No. 0032 reads that this convention “developed in the framework of the Council of Europe in order to ensure the protection and humane treatment of pets.” It has already been ratified by 22 European countries: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, Finland, France, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Sweden. Now Ukraine has joined this list.
What does it mean? It means that any person, keeping a pet animal, is responsible for its health and welfare, providing a necessary care and taking into consideration the ethological needs, including the need to receive adequate attention appropriate to the species and breed. The document also regulates the trade, commercial breeding and keeping of animals, work of animal shelters, surgical operations, and possible cases of euthanizing. For example, the document reads that “children under 16 years of age cannot purchase an animal without the full agreement of parents or persons exercising parental responsibility.” Article 10 of the convention stipulates that surgical operations aiming at changing external appearance of pet animals or other non-medical purposes such as tail or ear cropping, making animals mute or removing teeth or claws are prohibited. The convention also describes specific norms concerning the number of homeless animals, conditions of capturing, keeping, and euthanizing homeless animals. Article 12 stipulates that, when a party considers that the numbers of stray animals present a problem, it must take the legislative and/or administrative measures which it considers appropriate to reduce these numbers in a humane way.
All of these articles are topical for Ukraine where not only stray but pet animals are often badly treated. Dog hunters feel fine in Ukraine and animal advocates and ecologists accuse municipal services and city councils of mass killing of stray animals. Recently Den published a report from a private animal shelter Sirius whose director told enough stories about animals brought to the shelter with terrible wounds and injuries.
This convention is extremely important for Ukraine, but, unfortunately, taking into consideration continuous and persistent unwillingness of MPs to ratify the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption it sounds like bitter irony. It looks like MPs are much more concerned about the fate of animals than Ukrainian orphans. Thus, the recent eighth attempt to ratify the Hague Convention failed again. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine recommitted the drafts “On Ukraine’s joining the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption” (tabled by the president of Ukraine) and “On amending Ukrainian legislative acts regarding Ukraine’s joining the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption” to prepare it for another first reading.
It should be reminded that the Hague Convention is the key international document regulating the procedure of intercountry adoption and allowing to monitor the destiny of adopted children. It is aimed not at the encouragement of intercountry adoption but at protecting children from illegal intercountry adoption. The convention is designed to “ensure that intercountry adoptions are made in the best interests of the child” and “to establish a system of cooperation amongst Contracting States to ensure that those safeguards are respected and thereby prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children.” The national adoption is preferred to the intercountry adoption. Instead, the convention allows having regulated relations between the countries that have already ratified it in the sphere of intercountry adoption and make the Ukrainian legislation in this sphere meet the international standards. However, it looks like not all the MPs realize at full the meaning of this document. For example, members of Svoboda party constantly and unanimously vote against the law arguing that “Ukrainian orphans should be adopted by Ukrainian families” who, by the way, are not queuing for teenagers and children suffering from diseases. The communists also vote against and the members of the Party of Regions vote inactively, though the draft was tabled by the president. Every new failed attempt to ratify this convention makes it more and more difficult to believe that it can ever be ratified by the present Verkhovna Rada.