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Three bovines.

Animal Welfare Ombudsman

The Animal Welfare Ombudsman promotes and improves the welfare of animals in society through monitoring, initiatives, proposals, statements and other forms of advocacy. Their responsibilities also include supporting and promoting cooperation between different bodies and actors to improve the welfare of animals.

The Animal Welfare Ombudsman participates in the activities of the following animal welfare councils:

The Animal Welfare Ombudsman also participates in the activities of other working groups related to her responsibilities.

The Animal Welfare Ombudsman is an autonomous and independent authority. The post of Animal Welfare Ombudsman is based on the Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government. The post is placed in the Finnish Food Authority, and its office is located in Seinäjoki.

The Animal Welfare Ombudsman promotes the welfare of animals in society at a general level. The Animal Welfare Ombudsman does not comment on individual cases or carry out animal welfare control. If you observe any poor keeping or handling or ill treatment of animals, please contact a municipal veterinarian or the provincial veterinary officer or the police.

The Animal Welfare Ombudsman’s area of responsibility covers all groups of animals with which people have contact, for example, farm animals, companion and hobby animals, laboratory animals and wild animals when they are the target of human activities.

Animal Welfare Ombudsman Saara Kupsala

Photo of Animal Welfare Ombudsman Saara Kupsala.
Photo: Kari Likonen

Animal Welfare Ombudsman Saara Kupsala took up her post on 1 September 2020. She will hold the fixed-term post until 31 December 2023.

Saara Kupsala is a Doctor of Social Sciences. She defended her doctoral thesis at the University of Eastern Finland in 2019. In the thesis, she examined Finnish attitudes and perceptions regarding animals used in food production. Kupsala has also completed a Master of Social Sciences degree (University of Helsinki, 2010) and a Master of Arts degree (Lancaster University, 2002).

Kupsala has studied issues related to animal welfare in her doctoral thesis and in various research projects for more than ten years, and she has also written several publications on the topic. Before taking up the post of Animal Welfare Ombudsman, Kupsala worked as a researcher in a University of Helsinki project, in which she studied meanings given to lunch foods in the transition to more sustainable food services. She has also worked as a visiting researcher at the Hanken School of Economics, conducted her doctoral research on research grants, and worked as a junior researcher at the University of Eastern Finland and as an external researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute. She has conducted a social science investigation for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, in which she examined the shifting position of animals in Finnish society.

Animal Welfare Ombudsman in the years 2013–2015

The post of Animal Welfare Ombudsman was first established in Finland in 2013. Sari Salminen, licentiate of veterinary medicine, occupied the post from 12 August 2013 to 31 December 2015. The fixed-term post was established on the basis of the Programme of Jyrki Katainen’s Government (2011). While in the post, Sari Salminen wrote on her work and on animal welfare topics on a blog (in Finnish).

Banner picture: Minna Paananen.