Lower house to debate animal protection bill at upcoming sitting

The Sejm, lower house, will work on a bill aimed at raising animal protection in Poland during its Wednesday and Thursday session, Sejm Deputy Speaker Ryszard Terlecki told PAP on Tuesday.

The law amendment filed by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party to the Sejm on Friday envisages a total ban on fur farming with the exception of rabbits, and all use of animals for entertainment, including their use in circuses. Also foreseen is stricter control of animal shelters and the establishment of a council for animal affairs under the agriculture minister.

The proposed legislation also imposes restrictions on the ritual slaughter of animals.

The bill was announced last week by PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński, who said that Poland needs new animal protection laws, and voiced hope for the act's support above political divisions. Kaczyński said that the proposed laws were motivated by humanitarian considerations and were designed to raise animal protection in Poland to western-European standards.

On Monday, the head of the PiS party's Executive Committee, Krzysztof Sobolewski, said that the draft law was not part of coalition talks, and that PiS was counting on cross-party solidarity. According to Sobolewski, Senate Speaker Tomasz Grodzki hailing from the opposition Civic Coalition "has a similar view on animal protection" as PiS.

Borys Budka from the opposing Civic Coalition (KO) said his group planned to support the animal protection laws but will propose several changes to them. Budka explained that the amendments were necessary to offset the effects of the new regulations on the sectors they will affect.

Budka said KO had reservations as to planned restrictions regarding ritual slaughter meat, and mentioned the need for financial compensation for affected sectors. He added that KO was also concerned about the staff layoffs the new laws entailed.

He also warned that the fur farming ban may affect poultry breeders, who used fur farm residues for fodder.