Big words indeed. And bold aspirations. There are plans to make the Tuscan city of Lucca more animal friendly, to integrate, through town planning and management, domestic animals into the residents’ lifestyle. This is going one step further than the usual: town administrators being concerned with hygiene issues, the transmission of disease from animal to human et cetera, and going the extra mile and putting pets at the heart of urban planning.
The initiative appears to come from Francesco Di Iacovo, professor of agricultural economics at the University of Pisa (veterinary science department). And they are working in collaboration with the city council and Lucca Crea, a company behind an annual comics festival. The objective: to improve the way animals and humans interact “for the benefit and happiness of all” (Philip Willan of The Times newspaper).
The professor says that animals are part of society but are largely ignored when it comes to urban planning. He hopes to improve on that with a scheme to make the city more amenable to animals. In short,he wants to transform Lucca into the first European city with an integrated policy on human-animal cohabitation.
How do they achieve this? There are some suggestions in The Times newspaper in which they state that planners should consider how animals move around on public transport and whether they might be dropped off at school or an old peoples’ home to provide therapy. And there will be plans to organise what kind of places including shops and café’s can accommodate them. I love to see this sort of consideration given to domestic and community cats, and dogs, who need our attention.
It is estimated that there are about 60 million pets in Italy upon which an estimated €2 billion is spent on food. There are an estimated 7.5 million cats, 7 million dogs and 30 million fish (as companion animals) in Italy.
The professor has started a five year study to come up with a comprehensive plan which he describes as a charter for animals of the city and which can be copied in the future for other cities. The project is EU-funded.