In my blog postings, I spend a lot of time speaking about the Animal Welfare Act and the need to differentiate between types of animals. I typically state this is to allow better enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and a better use of resources. Also, I provide examples of how other countries, primarily the United States defines animals. However, I do not go into much more detail as for my reasoning. I would like to take time now to go through my reasoning.
Why Define Classes of Animals For Animal Welfare
Examples of Countries Where Animals Are Defined
Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 animal is very loosely defined that can include invertebrates.
The states of Iowa and Tennessee, for example, define animal. The State of Tennesee is unique that it defines animal twice. Once for the animal abuse register and the other a more broader definition for its animal welfare. I suspect the more narrower definition of animal for the animal abuse register is to provide a narrower definition of animal in order to limit the application of enforcement of the law to non-livestock and non-wildlife. Under the more narrower definition for the animal abuse register, the definition of animal is limited to companion animals (dogs and cats) and other animals typically kept as pets.
Michigan State University Animal Legal and Historic Society has put together a model animal welfare law. The model law is a proposal for a law that becomes law when adopted.
Likewise, Australia takes the time to separate animals into various classes, including going as far to define domestic animals and defining pets. Manitoba in Canada differentiates between companion animal and commercial animals. Even Myanmar differentiates between animals raised by man (e.g. pets and livestock) versus wild. Finally, Switzerland has a quite a comprehensive animal welfare law that differentiates between types of animals: domestic and wild animals. Unlike other animal welfare laws, the Swiss law is so detailed that it provides subgroups of domestic animals that includes dogs and rabbits.
I do not believe UK animal welfare law is progressive or forward thinking. Instead, it is very similar to a lot of Canadian animal welfare laws whereby the Canada’s Humane Society calls their animal welfare laws outdated.
I struggle with the United Kingdom’s Animal Welfare Act. The struggles lie where some animals, dogs in particular, “work” for humans and “work” with humans. By “work,” I mean some animals perform functions such as protection, companion, and putting themselves in harm way to protect their human counterpart. Thereby deserving more protection and a higher level of protection, I based on their function. This idea is very similar in providing health and safety protection for a human.
One Size Does Not Fit All
I do not believe, just because the United Kingdom has an Animal Welfare Act with many sections that it provides comprehensive protection and I do not believe it does not necessarily make it forward thinking. Many countries outside of the EU have quite a comprehensive animal welfare laws that go further as to protect service animals for the disabled, protect family pet in domestic violence situations, and police dogs.
Analysis & Conclusion
Several other countries outside of the EU have comprehensive animal welfare laws that provide protection against domestic abuse, protects service animals for the disabled, and protect police dogs. Some have even been able to implement an animal abuse register. Therefore, I do not believe the Animal Welfare Act is fit for purpose. Instead, I believe, if an animal abuse register will come to fruition in the United Kingdom, then the Animal Welfare Act will need revising. The revision will need to define animal into at least three separate categories: domestic, wild, and livestock. Based on their “working” conditions and the potential harm that can occur when in our care. Furthermore, I believe any animal abuse register should follow other registers with particular attention being paid to data protection issues while providing longer sentences for those who abuse animals and I do not believe the animal abuse register should cover any animal that is considered wild or livestock.