General overview

Supervision of animal health is based on Veterinary Organisation Act that establishes the bases of organisation of veterinary activity.

Veterinary activity is a system of measures, applied for protection of animal and human health and for guarantee of animal welfare, including activities in the field of animal health, animal product hygiene and animal protection.

In the field of animal health Infectious Animal Disease Control Act is very important, that contains both common (for example commitment to identify and register animals) and concrete (for example directions for activities to be taken during epidemic) measures of precaution and control of infectious animal diseases. In prevention, suspicion or presence of animal epidemic there is need for compact co-operation with Veterinary and Food Laboratory, performing necessary laboratory examination.

In case of suspicion or presence of infectious animal disease activity is based on the infectious animal disease control rules, established by the Ministry of Agriculture. According to infectious animal disease control rules the spreading of infectious animal disease has to be blocked and the source of infection has to be eliminated. The infectious animal disease control rules are obligatory for all animal-breeders, handlers of animal products, persons in the spreading area of infectious animal diseases, supervising officials, authorized veterinarians, licensed veterinarians and veterinary laboratories and other persons, connected with the infectious animal disease control due to of their jobs.

The control and compensation of all especially dangerous and part of dangerous infectious animal diseases are financed through the state budget, as established by the regulation of Government No 260 of 1 August 2000  and regulation of the Ministry of Agriculture No 69 of 23 November 2000.
Agriculture and Food Board collaborates with other countries, administrations, ministries and organisations (OIE, the European Council, WHO etc.) regarding animal health issues.

According to The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Republic of Estonia is free from rabies, foot and mouth disease, peste des petits ruminants, rinderpest and with negligible bovine spongiform encephalopathy risk.

According to European Commission Decision 2010/695/EU Estonia is officially tuberculosis-free and officially brucellosis-free (Brucella melitensis) and according to European Commission Decision 2014/441/EU Estonia is officially enzootic-bovine-leukosis-free.

A prohibited act with respect to an animal is:

1) Forcing an animal to to efforts beyond its capabilities. This refers first of all to transport animals – horses and donkeys. Overloading of animals and the use of animal species for transport or riding that are not suitable for that is not permitted. Exceptional cases may be the Cups of heavy transport horses, where the presence of a veterinarian is required; who would control the health of the competition horses and stop the competition if necessary.

2) Arranging animal fights. Animal fight is a fight between animals or between an animal and a human, arranged on commercial, entertaining or other purpose, due to which the animal may perish, gets injured or suffers. The most well known fights are cockfights, bullfights and dogfights. Arranging animal fights is forbidden in Estonia.

3) Abandoning an animal. This is the most difficult and painful problem in Estonia. People often take puppies or kittens to amuse children when going to summer cottage in spring, but later they have no possibility or wish to keep the animals in their apartments in autumn. They find that the only solution is to drop the animal out of the car and forget it. Such activity is legally punishable and every citizen has the duty to inform the police or local veterinary centre about such cases, adding as much data about the person who abandoned the animal (registration number of the car, personal description etc.) as possible. When taking a dog or a cat, the person has to bear in mind that the lifetime of the noted animal is 10 – 15 years and every keeper of an animal is taking the responsibility to care for the animal. If this turns out to be impossible, the alternative solution is euthanasia, performed by a veterinarian or the animal can be handed over to a hospice, where it would be possible to find him a new owner.

4) Leaving an animal a helpless state. When driving we often notice carcasses of perished animals on the roads. It rarely happens that the animal who has been hit by a car, dies momentarily without suffering; it happens even more seldom that the driver of the car which hit the animal will bother to stop and check the state of the animal on the road. No one should indifferently pass an injured or abandoned animal for whatever reason. The solution is to inform the owner of the animal immediately and if he cannot be identified, then depending on the animal species and the case to inform an environmental service by phone no 1313 (injured or wounded wild animals), a veterinarian (injured wild and domestic animals) or local government (stray domestic animals). The phone number of a local veterinarian would be usually available in the closest farm. It should still be considered that the young of wild animals and birds that can be met in the forest and in the field in spring- and summertime, are not usually being abandoned and in helpless situation. Their parents are somewhere nearby and it is prohibited to touch such young or take it home.

5) Breeding activity, causing suffering to animals or

6) any other activity of similar consequences, which is not caused by medical treatment of an animal or any other veterinary procedure or emergency situation.

Last updated: 15.12.2020