Different standards of animal welfare across the European Union

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Pavel Jakes

The story in The Times newspaper of a Czech carpenter, Pavel Jakes, 52, who went to shoot birds with an air rifle in Spring Water Park near Bury in Greater Manchester, UK, tells us that there is a wide disparity in the standards of animal welfare across the European Union in a clear violation of the union’s objectives. Czechoslovakia joined the European Union in 2004 and yet their animal welfare laws are still behind the norm in Europe. How can I justify that disturbing statement?

Well, Pavel Jakes’s barrister at his trial for having an offensive weapon in a public place, claimed in defence that, “It was his pastime and his pastime which he followed in his native Czech Republic”. Therefore, it was entirely normal as far as Mr Jakes was concerned. He could see no wrong in walking into a public park in England to shoot birds from trees in camouflage clothes and using a camouflaged air rifle.

Pavel Jakes

Pavel Jakes. Photo: Cavendish Press.

Mr Jakes was seen crouching or lying in grass in the park by a woman who was walking her dog. She noticed that he was armed with what appeared to be a rifle. She said that Mr Jakes looked nervous. Soon afterwards the police arrived having been called out. The police firearms unit heard a gunshot and noticed birds scattering before they found the gunman. They discovered his air rifle in brambles. When they searched his home they found a gas powered air rifle which is regarded as a lethal weapon under the Firearms Act and therefore subject to restrictions. On his person they found 74 pellets for the air rifle that they found in the brambles.

The judge let him off leniently with an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months together with 180 hours of unpaid work. Normally the sentence would have been 18 months in jail.

The moral of the story, as mentioned, is that there is something deeply disturbing with respect to animal welfare in the European Union namely a huge disparity across the members of that troubled union. Applicants to become a member state of the union have to demonstrate that their laws are synchronised with those of the union but I’ve always contended that on animal welfare they are not and it isn’t just the Czech Republic who are at fault. Urgent efforts are required to deal with this disparity. The institutions of the European Union have conveniently brushed under the carpet the disparity in animal welfare laws. It is another failure in the management of the European Union. Brexit might have been avoided but for this poor management.