WE know the nature of the bond between people and companion animals has changed. Evidence suggests children are now more likely to grow up with a pet than both parents.
Higher percentages of pet owners consider their pets to be family.
Spending on pet accessories in Australia last year came in at about the $ 800 million mark, which doesn’t include pet food, veterinary care, grooming, boarding or training costs.
In disaster situations, more and more people are likely to refuse rescue assistance if it means leaving their pets behind.
As people grow to value the role animals play in their lives and spend more money on them, the question remains: Does the law adequately refl ect the strength of the humancompanion animal bond?
A growing number of lawyers are choosing to focus on animal law – those legal issues which impact on animals – which differs from animal welfare or animal rights.
Animal welfare focuses on the humane treatment of animals and there is generally widespread support for animal welfare measures.
Animal rights focuses on opposing the use of animals by humans, including eating them and experimenting on them.
The Animal Law Toolkit is an excellent resource for those wanting to dig deeper, available at www. voiceless. org. au
When it comes to companion animals, researcher Dr Fiona Borthwick from the University of Wollongong suggests that 40 years ago, legislation focused on registration and impounding procedures.
Life was simpler then, the main issue being stray dogs. Now, the focus has shifted to the social and legal responsibilities of pet owners to the community and the environment.
The growing call to regulate the breeders of companion animals refl ects the concern animal lawyers and other advocates have in ensuring animal welfare remains part of the equation.
National legislation for compulsory and enforceable breeder standards can’t come soon enough to stop those keeping constantly pregnant female animals in cramped conditions for unregulated breeding operations.