Animal Charity

FOUR PAWS mourns its Founder and President Heli Dungler 


It is with great sadness that the global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS announces the death of Founder and President Heli Dungler

06.01.2020 –  It is with great sadness that the global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS announces the death of Founder and President Heli Dungler, who died suddenly and unexpectedly yesterday, at the age of 56. Heli Dungler has decisively shaped animal welfare over the past 30 years and expanded FOUR PAWS into a global organization.

“His death is a severe blow for us and fills us with great pain. Our thoughts and our deepest sympathies are with his wife, his daughter and all his relatives during these difficult hours”

says Josef Pfabigan, board member of FOUR PAWS and long-time friend and colleague of Heli Dungler.

Heli Dungler was born in 1963 in Waidhofen an der Thaya in Lower Austria. In 1984, he started his career with Greenpeace, Austria. During this time, he nurtured a desire to actively promote animal welfare. In 1988, he founded the animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS in Vienna and initially focused on animal protection issues such as fur farming, battery farms and circus animals. For decades, through negotiations with decision-makers around the world, he campaigned for higher animal welfare standards in agriculture, for legislative changes in the keeping of brown bears and for the protection of big cats and stray animals. Thanks to his tireless work, today FOUR PAWS is a global animal welfare organisation, represented in 15 countries and revealing suffering, rescuing animals in need and protecting them worldwide.

"Through his passion and tireless efforts, FOUR PAWS was able to save the lives of many thousands of animals," says Josef Pfabigan. "The world has lost a very special animal lover and visionary. The employees of FOUR PAWS, his relatives and friends mourn the loss of a very special, charismatic and humorous person. We will honor his memory by continuing the work he loved so much."

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FOUR PAWS believes that the issue of the illegal pet trade is a crucial one and is now delighted to see the ENVI Committee reiterating the need to address it. FOUR PAWS therefore welcomes the vote, which would lead to an official call for action to the European Commission, should the Parliament decide to support the Motion in its plenary vote in February.

Severely compromising consumer protection, public and animal health, and animal welfare, the illegal pet trade touches upon various pieces of legislation. Underlining the importance of Identification and Registration (I&R) for animal, breeder, seller and owner traceability, the Motion calls the Commission to fully utilize the Delegated powers under Regulation (EU) 2016/429 (Animal Health Law), which provide the legal basis for EU-wide, mandatory and harmonized I&R systems. Particular attention is paid to the registration of operators of all breeding and selling establishments, as mandated by the Animal Health Law. This is critical for detecting the source of disease and transparency in the pet supply chain.

The Motion also urges the Commission to build on the recommendations of the EU Coordinated Control Plan on online sales of cats and dogs (2019), which reported serious discrepancies in the online trade, including inconsistencies between traders’ status and activity. To that end it suggests the deployment of partnerships between authorities, I&R databases, classified websites and animal welfare organizations for specific measures against misleading advertising and illegal online trade. Additionally, the Motion welcomes the work of the Voluntary Initiative Subgroup on Health and Welfare of Pets in Trade under the EU Platform for Animal Welfare and calls for the allocation of sufficient resources to facilitate progress and dissemination of the outcomes produced.

Evidence shows that the illegal pet trade is skyrocketing online, as confirmed by animal welfare organisations, veterinarians, competent authorities and enforcement services. It is therefore essential that attention is paid to online trade channels, by applying measures for increased animal, breeder and seller traceability, hence, FOUR PAWS is calling for the European Parliament to support the ENVI Committee in its Plenary Session.

FOUR PAWS is an international animal welfare organisation with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Heli Dungler in 1988, the organisation strives to help animals in need with sustainable campaigns and projects. The work is based on substantiated research and scientific expertise as well as intensive national and international lobbying. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals that are directly under human influence: stray dogs and stray cats, farm animals, companion animals and wild animals including bears, big cats and orang-utans kept in inappropriate conditions. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Kosovo, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA and Vietnam, FOUR PAWS aims to help animals in need directly and quickly.