Find out if your church is a good student…or not (Schaerbeek)

Which municipality can claim to have the best animal welfare policy? The association GAIA carried out a classification and researched in Wallonia and Brussels.

Three years after the municipal elections, GAIA decided to take stock of local animal welfare policies. And this in order to determine what efforts still need to be made in the various units of the country.

So for six months, the famous association polled the kingdom’s councilors and mayors on ten major issues, ranging from putting in place a full program to deal with stray cats to banning firecrackers. Based on these criteria and the responses from the municipalities, GAIA compiled a ranking of the country’s good (and bad) students.

1Brussels, an (almost) exemplary region

It’s a fact: Brussels-Capital is the most animal-friendly region according to GAIA. And for many reasons.

First of all, of the 19 institutions in the capital, only one municipality (Molenbeek-Saint-Jean) does not have a specific officer for the animal cause. In comparison, 15% of Walloon entities and 20% of Flemish municipalities still have no alderman for animal welfare.

Also, among all the municipalities that responded to the GAIA questionnaire, in Brussels we find the best student in the country. This is Anderlecht, whose score (97%) is almost perfect.

Another positive point: two Brussels municipalities are in the top 3 of the animal protection association’s ranking published on Tuesday. Schaerbeek (94%) scores slightly worse than Anderlecht and Courcelles (95%).

Evidence that the entire Brussels region appears to be concerned about animal welfare is that no fewer than five of the eight municipalities (Anderlecht, Schaerbeek, Ixelles, Etterbeek and Ganshoren) that answered the GAIA questionnaire received a score of have more than 90%. In the rest of Belgium, only the towns of Courcelles, Oudsbergen, Brasschaat, Sint-Katelijne-Waver and Herentals can boast of it.

2Wallonia: Courcelles and Rumes, the opposites

In Wallonia, the results published by GAIA vary greatly from one commune to another.

So if Courcelles can be considered the most animal-friendly entity in Wallonia, Rumes obviously still has work to do. With a score of 34%, the Picardy entity is (by far) the worst student in the region. And that, even if Nandrin and Frameries do not fare much better with 41%.

In Wallonia, ten cities fall short of the average. In addition to Rumes, Nandrin and Frameries, these are Estaimpuis (49%), Esneux (49%), Durbuy (47%), Philippeville (47%) and Clavier (46%).

Finally, an interesting observation: of all the large Walloon cities, it is Bastogne (80%) that has the most respectful attitude towards animals. Liège (79%) scores almost as well, in contrast to La Louvière (59%) and Tournai (55%) who still have work to do.

“Several cities with a rather low or average score have already stated that they want to work on developing better animal welfare policies,” notes GAIA.

3Walloon Brabant, a little more respectful

If we generally take the average of the results of the municipalities participating in the GAIA survey, it becomes clear that one Walloon province performs slightly better than the others: Walloon Brabant.

As the only province in the south of the country not to list any failed municipalities, BW has an average of 68% interest in animal welfare. Next come Namur (67%), Hainaut (66%), Liège (66%) and Luxembourg (63%).

And the other cities?

“While this survey aims to inform citizens, it is also proving to be a guide for cities and communities and must be viewed as a dynamic process, an interim assessment that will allow elected officials to improve ahead of the next election,” says the animal rights society.

The regret remains that we cannot analyze all the action plans of the Belgian municipalities. As the questionnaire is not official, GAIA has not received any replies from many institutions including Arlon, Verviers or Ciney.

“What should we conclude from this? Is animal welfare the least of your concerns? Do some municipalities only answer campaign polls?” asks Ann De Greef, the association’s executive director.

On the upside, cities and towns that didn’t take part in the survey will have a second chance to do so in 2024, as GAIA will conduct a similar survey again before the local elections. History, to undoubtedly draw the final balance of six years of local politics.

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