Animal welfare regulations

The government lays down rules for the treatment of animals. These rules protect their health and wellbeing.

Cruelty to animals

Cruelty to animals is a crime. ‘Cruelty’ can be physical abuse or failing to take care of an animal properly, such as neglecting or starving an animal.

You can report cruelty to animals to the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) and the police. They are responsible for tackling this form of crime.

Invasive procedures on animals

In general, it is forbidden by law to mutilate or remove any part of an animal for non-medical reasons. Some procedures are allowed, like ear tagging cattle and pigs.

Rules for biotechnology research

Scientists can change the genetic make-up of animals (organisms). This is called genetic modification or biotechnology. This type of animal research is only permitted if it:

  • is in the public interest;
  • does not excessively damage the health and welfare of the animals used, or cause unnecessary pain;

  • does not raise serious ethical objections. Alternative research methods, if they exist, are always preferable to methods involving animals.

Animal cloning also falls under biotechnology. Cloning is only permitted for scientific purposes, not for other reasons, such as meat production.

Animal testing

Animals are sometimes used in tests to measure the quality and safety of medications, chemical substances and food. There are strict rules on animal testing. It is against the law to carry out experiments on primates or test cosmetics on animals.

Animal welfare rules and regulations

Rules and regulations on animal welfare in the Netherlands are set out in:

  • the Animals Act;
  • the Decree containing rules for keepers of animals;
  • the Decree concerning permitted veterinary procedures.