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.
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.
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?