New Zealand shows the way on animal rights
NICE work New Zealand, for setting an example to the world with a landmark animal welfare ruling.
The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, passed in New Zealand last month, makes it easier to prosecute people in animal cruelty cases and places bans on animal testing and research in that country.
It is the first time this protection has been extended to all animals, going beyond protection for chimpanzees, orang-utans and dolphins.
The Bill means animal welfare laws can be better enforced and the sentience of animals be recognised — that animals feel positive and negative emotions including pain and distress. It is another step forward in humankind’s animal welfare journey towards more informed attitudes on the status of non-human animals.
Practices that were once commonplace for pets and farm stock are no longer acceptable or tolerated.
Recognising sentience, the capacity for feeling or perceiving, is important. Pet owners and scientists have known it for years — animals have feelings.
Animals, like humans, are sentient beings.
When animals suffer, you can see it in their eyes. For humans to treat animals as objects or things, as opposed to living beings, is clearly wrong on every level. By defining the phrase, “physical, health and behavioural needs”, the New Zealand Bill is offering greater protection to many thousands of animals.
In line with international practices, the definition includes freedom of movement for animals, so as not to restrict in a way that causes suffering or injury and provide sufficient space to display normal patterns of behaviour like being able to turn around easily and walk.
The need to define this most basic of things suggests we have a way to go when it comes to the treatment of animals — lead on New Zealand.
For humans to treat animals as objects or things, as opposed to living beings, is clearly wrong on every level.