A Significant Step Forward for Animal Welfare Legislation!

My posts often contain my opinions and attitudes about our egregious animal welfare legislation and how desperately I advocate for change. This is HUGE news and a giant step forward for animals everywhere…and especially so in New Zealand. Hopefully the rest of the world will follow suit now:

This article appeared in The Independent (U.K.) on May 17, 2015. Written by Sophie McIntyre:

Headline: Animals are now legally recognized as ‘sentient’ beings in New Zealand

(Sunday, 17 May 2015) – The New Zealand Government has formally recognized animals as ‘sentient’ beings by amending animal welfare legislation.

The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill was passed on Tuesday.

The Act stipulates that it is now necessary to ‘recognize animals as sentient’ and that owners must ‘attend properly to the welfare of those animals’.

“To say that animals are sentient is to state explicitly that they can experience both positive and negative emotions, including pain and distress,” said Chair of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee, Dr Virginia Williams, according to animalequality.net.

“The explicitness is what is new and marks another step along the animal welfare journey,” she added

In addition, new material has been added to the section of the Act pertaining to animal testing for other research purposes.

The Government now demands that checks be made as to whether there has been ‘assessment of the suitability of using non-sentient or non-living alternatives in the project’ and ‘replacement of animals as subjects with suitable non-sentient or non-living alternatives’.

“Expectations on animal welfare have been rapidly changing. The bill brings legislation in line with our nation’s changing attitude on the status of animals in society,” according to the President of the New Zealand Veterinary Association, Dr Steve Merchant.

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This is so significant. The absence of viewing animals as sentient beings has been a major part of the problem in animal welfare policies. Now maybe we will see considerable strides in how our world interacts with the animals with whom we share this planet.

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Questions: How long do you think it will take the rest of the world to incorporate the sentient nature of animals into legislation and policy-making decisions? How do you feel about New Zealand’s recent act (animal welfare amendment bill) and what effect do you think that will have on other countries? Will the U.S. be far behind?

 

 

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12 thoughts on “A Significant Step Forward for Animal Welfare Legislation!

  1. This is wonderful! Unfortunately I see major resistance to adopting this attitude here. There’s too much money in CAFOs, and with so many people here living with food insecurity, or scraping to get by, it will be easy for these interests to convince the public that adopting such a stance would dramatically decrease quality of life for the lowest paid workers.

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    • That’s unfortunate. In the animal agriculture business is where change is the most needed! I have to believe though, that every little step forward will eventually culminate in desired change. We may not see it in this lifetime but the wheels are turning in the right direction so all we can do is hope … and speak out when we have the opportunity to do so.
      It breaks my heart seeing so many pigs, cows, chickens, etc stuffed into tight little spaces. They have absolutely no quality of life at all. It’s overwhelmingly sad.
      I recently took an Animal Welfare course from Edinburgh University and it talked about the changes that CAFOs could incorporate into their operations that would improve the quality of life for these captive animals. But money talks and when you talk about introducing change, you’re also talking big money to do it so there’s a very major hurdle to get over right there. We have so far to go…
      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comment!

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      • I hope you’re right. I’m still shocked that CAFOs are legal and acceptable. Think there’s been some good progress made educating the public as to how their food is produced, but I have to assume that the main consumers of two hour long documentaries are middle class, and it’s going to be hard to get lower wage earners on board when many of them are going hungry to start with. Of course, if we charged more in tax to the very wealthy (like other countries do), and increased social services (like other countries have) the conversation would be entirely different. I do strongly believe that we have to take care of our human populations first, which has been disappointingly difficult in the post GFC political climate. Recognizing animals as sentient beings and improving their living conditions will happen eventually, I believe that one day the science will be irrefutable, but you’re right about how long it might take.

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  2. You are so ahead of the game. I think we all should follow New Zealand’s example but unsure when Canada and the U.S. will wake up never mind countries like Thailand etc… We really need to step up

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    • I’m in the U.S. I wish we were as progressive as New Zealand when it comes to animal welfare. This is a huge step and I can only hope that our country and all the other countries around the world will, as you say, step up! Thailand will be a tough one for sure. They and China have such a horrendous problem with the dog-meat industry, it makes me cry!

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    • Hey Clee, No hurray for us yet. I’m in the U.S. and the agricultural industry here still operates on the “good ol’ boy network” I’m afraid. Let’s hope the US finally develops a heart when it comes to animal welfare and animal rights legislation. We are definitely far behind. Will be interesting to see how New Zealand incorporates this new act. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I think animal lovers would be pleased with this step. I’m one that believes animals were put on earth to make life easier for us humans, by way of food, clothing, and to make work lighter. I don’t think animal cruelty is good and so this seems like a step forward. There are many people who treat animals better than they treat people and that’s something I have a problem with. Things vary greatly here in the states from state to state about the protection. We don’t have a universal procedure or system with regard to the manufacturing end of things. We have the food and drug division that does inspections for food safety, but to my knowledge that’s it.

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    • I’m here in the U.S. too. We can only hope that we get some progressive thinking people in Congress that can by-step that good ol’ boy network and make some much needed changes when it comes to animal welfare. We have so so far to go. Thanks for stopping by Sandy.

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  4. All I can say is I can’t believe it took them so long, and–sad to say–NZ is probably ahead of the rest of the world on this.

    I really wish we weren’t at the top of the food chain.

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    • I know. And I can’t believe we (the U.S.) haven’t been able to do this yet either! The laws are so heartless for animals. I know what you mean about not wishing to be at the top of the food chain… Thanks for stopping by

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