What America, Canada and Switzerland Can Teach United Kingdom About Animal Welfare

Animal Abuse Register logo

Introduction

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

United Kingdom

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 animal is very loosely defined that can include invertebrates.

United States

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.

Elsewhere

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.

Special Responsibility

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similar to a lot of Canadian animal welfare laws whereby the Canada’s Humane Society calls their animal welfare laws outdated.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.

 

Warning: Brexit Will Impact The Animal Abuse Register

Animal Abuse Register logo

Warning: Brexit Will Impact The Animal Abuse Register

Since  David Cameron announced the EU referendum on leaving the EU, the topic of Brexit dominates the media. After the referendum and now with formal talks to leave the EU starting, It is impossible to escape hearing something about Brexit. Any other topic relating to Brexit or any other newsworthy topic does not get the attention it deserves. The focus on Brexit leaves a large vacuum on other important topics like Brexit impact on animal welfare and the potential impact of Brexit on the animal abuse register

In the article, I am going to cover three issues: Why the lack coverage, possible impact on the animal abuse register and what the future can hold for the animal abuse register.

What Impact Will Brexit Have On Animal Welfare

As I understand it, EU regulations regarding animal welfare only cover transporting of animals within the EU. This means farm animals, not domestic or wild and animals used for testing are primarily covered by EU legislation. This means unless the animal is being used to test cosmetics or is a farm animal then most likely EU regulations do not apply.

Brexit Potential Impact

Currently, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is the court of last hope that will take appeals from the UK Supreme Court and Europen Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will rule on any matter regarding human rights issues. In a post-Brexit world, there are plans to streamline this by making the UK Supreme Court the final authority.

Post-Brexit Animal Abuse Register

I have extensively written regarding my vision for the animal abuse register and I have written a few position papers on various issues relating to the animal abuse register. For the sake of brevity I will not cover them here and if you want to read them then click on the above links.

When I look at the work various states in the United States have done on the animal abuse register and animal rights laws, especially companion animals, I am dismayed at how far behind the United Kingdom is on this topic. Below are a few examples where the United Kingdom lags:

 

StateStatuteDate AdoptedDescriptionlink
ArizonaC. R. S. A. § 15-11-901Not available Requiring Pet Stores to provide vertrinarian certificate of health at time of sale and allows customer to return pet within 2 weeks if animal is illhttps://www.animallaw.info/statute/az-pet-sales-title-44-trade-and-commerce-chapter-11-regulations-concerning-particular
 Colorado C. R. S. A. § 18-6-800.3  1989Animals (e.g. family pet) included in definition of domestic abusehttps://www.animallaw.info/statute/co-domestic-violence-animals-and-domestic-violence-definition
 Colorado  C. R. S. A. § 35-80-101 – 117  1994 Regulating the sale of animals and ensuring no animal under 8 weeks is sold. Failure to comply can result in criminal charges https://www.animallaw.info/statute/co-pet-shop-article-80-pet-animal-care-and-facilities-act
 Colorado C. R. S. A. § 15-11-901 1994Creation of a trust for animals for the care of animals and their offspring for up to 21 years after the owner dies.https://www.animallaw.info/statute/co-trusts-pets-article-11-intestate-succession-and-wills
 Iowa  IA ST §§ 236.3, 236.4, 236.5  1979 Allows a judge to issue an order against a domestic abuser to stay away from family pethttps://www.animallaw.info/statute/ia-domestic-violence-chapter-236-domestic-abuse 
 Iowa  IA ST § 717B.1 – 717E.3  Not AvailableSimilar law to Tennessee. Iowa provides a definition of animal but includes exclusions for livestock, fish, animals raised for fur, and other exclusions. Finally, law provides various criminal penalties depending on the offence https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ia-cruelty-injury-animals-other-livestock
 Indiana  IN ST 9-21-17-21; 16-32-3-1 – 5; 22-9-6-5; 22-9-5-9.5; 22-9-5-20; 35-31.5-2-295; 35-46-3-11.5; 3-11-9-5  Not AvailableLaw defines service animal and provide for criminal charges for anyone who harms a service animal. In addition, this provides further legal protection for those who use service animals.https://www.animallaw.info/statute/assistance-animal-assistance-animalguide-dog-laws#s35_46_3_11_5
 Lousiana  LSA-R.S 46:1951 – 1959; LA R.S. 21:52; LA R.S. 32:217; LA R.S. 14:39  Not AvailableSimilar to Indiana’s law that defines criminal penalties for injuring a service dog and provides owner of a service dog further legal protectionhttps://www.animallaw.info/statute/la-assistance-animal-assistance-animalguide-dog-laws#s1955
 Lousiana LSA-R.S. 46:2135 1982Law allows issuing of a restraining order for domestic violence to protect animals from abuse.https://www.animallaw.info/statute/la-domestic-violence-chapter-28-protection-family-violence-act

The above table is just a sample of laws states have implemented to further protect animals from cruelty and the sample demonstrates the United Kingdom is lacking. Furthermore, Michigan State University has a marvelous resource on animal laws in the world.

Analysis

I believe all animals need to be protected from abuse and cruelty. Nonetheless, I am a realist and realise animals such as dogs play a vital role in our daily lives. A dog, for example, works with the police, the military, as a service dog and a pet. Now when you compare a dog to a pigeon what is more vital for society to function. Granted, both have a vital function in our lives. However, I believe animals that have a role to help us function and to protect us should receive more protection. Brexit will not greatly impact animal welfare laws and I do not believe Brexit will kill the push towards the animal abuse register.  Instead, I believe Brexit does open the opportunity for the United Kingdom to expand on animal welfare. In particular, the United Kingdom can begin exploring defining

When I look at the issue of Brexit I do not believe it will not greatly impact animal welfare laws and I do not believe Brexit will kill the push towards the animal abuse register.  Instead, I believe Brexit does open the opportunity for the United Kingdom to expand on animal welfare. In particular, the United Kingdom can begin exploring defining

In particular, Brexit can allow the United Kingdom can begin exploring defining an animal as it relates to service and defining criminal charges based on crime and definition instead of a “one size fits all” approach. I believe a “one size fits all,” approach makes it more difficult to allocate limited resources and it makes it difficult to put in place deterrents to prevent animal cruelty.  The best approach I believe is defining animal-based on function and base sentencing on function along with the severity of the crime and intent is a better approach. By leaving the EU, the ECHR, and ECJ I believe it will make it easier for the government to expand on animal welfare laws by offering more protection without the of the added expense and the added time (usually in years) of going to the European courts.

I believe the two quickest wins can be including protection for the family pet in domestic violence cases and providing service animals, like seeing eye dogs, further protection. This protection can include harsher sentences for anyone who harms a service animal and strengthening protection under the Equality Act.

So, do I fear Brexit? No. Instead of seeing the possibilities Brexit can provide, especially if this government keeps its promises about leaving ECJ and ECHR. Finally, I see Brexit may make it easier for the animal abuse register to come to fruition and provide the protection all of the desire to protect our pets from cruelty.

 

 

 

How updating the Animal Welfare Act 2006 Make Britain Safer?

Maxine Berry Interview

How updating the Animal Welfare Act 2006 Make Britain Safer?

Intro

Imagine a place where bullying, abuse, and violence disappears? What does it look like? How does it make you feel? Do you feel technology can protect us by knowing if someone has a violent past? Will you feel more secure if the police knew where violent people live and was using that information to make our communities safer? Sound too good to be true? Maybe, but there is a something that can help to make Britain safer and decrease violence in society.

In order to make us safe and to protect us we must be willing to take a risk. Brexit offers the opportunity UK to control and make us safer. So, how can we become safer by reducing abuse and violence? The answer is simple an animal abuse register.

Animal Register: The Basics

How can an animal abuse register reduce abuse and violence in this country? In order to understand how an animal abuse register can make Britain safer it is important to understand the very basics. First, the term animal abuse register creates a lot of questions, such as: what is an animal? Animal Welfare Act 2006 defines animal in section1 but whilst it does a marvelous attempt in defining animal it raises questions about application to invertebrates and how can it be successfully funded to allow enforcement? Maxine Berry through her Justice for Chunky petition calls for a register to protect our pets, companion animals. The state of Tennessee animal abuse register, as defined by Tennessee’s legislation establishing the register, an animal is defined as a companion that is not livestock and not wild. This means only those animals kept as companions, such as dogs or cats, will be covered.

This raises the next question; how will the register operate? A more detailed explanation can be found here. The register will only include those who have either been convicted of qualifying charge or pleads guilty to a qualifying charge. As a part of sentencing the individual will be placed on the register, by the courts, for a qualifying period based on the severity of the charge and if they have been previously charged for another qualifying offence. Once placed on the register, it will then become the responsibility of the convicted to provide up to date and accurate information. Failure to comply can result in serving further jail time. While on the register the individual will be barred from owning or caring for a pet. Also, it is proposed while on the register the individual will not be allowed to work with the vulnerable, the old, or the young.

Information Access:

Maxine Berry Interview
Maxine Berry being interviewed before submitting justice for chunky petition to DEFRA

As for who can access the information? Brighter Tomorrow, owned in part by Maxine Berry, envision the information being held on a database and when required the information is searched with an indication if the person is on the register. Only those who have a right to the information (sellers and employers) and pays a fee can access it. Nonetheless, Brighter Tomorrow is open to the idea of a public register, like Tennessee, but the government needs to make money to fund it. By limiting access and paying a fee makes the register self-funding. Plus it protects the information held on it. Otherwise it will be no better than the current Animal Welfare Act 2006.

At this stage I hope you are still with me and not sleeping. If you are get a cup of coffee or a hot milky tea. Glad you are back and want to learn more. I realise the above is not the most interesting or exciting; however, it provides important information on the framework and how the register will operate. For those of you who are familiar with the Police National Computer (PNC), maybe asking, why the register if we already have this? There are two fundamental reasons. First the PNC is not accessible to the public. Second the PNC is about holding crime information such as vehicle information and it is meant to solve crimes. Whereas the registry is about providing an additional tool that contains information about the individual, the crime, and sentence. The registry will provide an additional tool and provide accessible information to the public.

Why Change the Animal Welfare Act 2006?

After discussing the foundation of how the register will operate, I am sure the big looming question is why change the Animal Welfare Act 2006? First reason, from what I understand, there is a lack of funding for enforcement. As stated earlier the Animal Welfare Act 2006 covers all animals and can cover invertebrates too. Thereby making it difficult to set priorities, difficult to enforce, and limits funding for enforcement. This means does enforcement focuses on protecting pets, badgers, horses, or pigeons? Where are enforcement officers sent? Who is charged under the Act? It leaves a lot of questions that need to be answer and because of broad focus very difficult to enforce.

Another reason for the register, it provides vital information about those convicted of animal abuse that anyone can access. It also provides a funding mechanism when more information is needed from employers and the general public. Depending on the funding model selected it is possible the register can be self-funding.

dog roaming
dog roaming free.

Third reason for updating the Animal Welfare Act, regards how animals are treated in the Act. In America, for example, there is a growing trend to change the reference from pet owners to pet guardians. This semantic change may seem minor but it is very powerful. A failure of the Animal Welfare Act is animals are treated like property (e.g. X-Box, home computer, stove, etc.) and the shift to guardian means unable to manage own affairs. Changing from owner to guardian allows a necessary change in the law. It allows for tougher sentencing because harm to animal means harm to something that cannot care for itself and not simple property damage.

Next reason for changing Animal Welfare Act 2006 is sentencing is too lax. Maximum sentence is six months and most do not even see jail. The diminishes the serious nature of animal cruelty and make it seem like a “slap on the wrist.”

DEFRA has been asked to review our vision  and has not acted upon it. Stories like Chunky happen on a daily basis and highlights how the Animal Welfare Act 2006 fails our most vulnerable. The registry provides a way forward and offers a route to bring UK in line with other countries that value animals.

The immediate focus is getting the registry along with the appropriate funding for enforcement, changes to sentencing, and change to Animal Welfare Act 2006 to bring about effective change. This is a long and at a point where public support is crucial. I ask our supporters to attend the MPs surgery, write their MP, email their MP, Facebook message them, tweet them, and to do the same for DEFRA.

I am convinced the registry can make a positive and long-lasting change in the UK. The change will mean better lives for everyone. For us to have a better life, with less violence and abuse, comes a very little cost and with minimal disruption. All we need now is continued support from the public and support of our government.

Conclusion

Finally I believe the Animal Welfare Act 2006 has merit and should be retained. Nonetheless, I believe by reforming the Act and focusing on companion animals it can lead to more prosecutions and have a lasting impact on crime reduction.

Thank you for reading and I hope you will support the cause.

We can be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/JusticeforChunkyCampaign/

Further Related Articles

Tennessee Animal Abuse Legislation

Vision for Animal Abuse Register with Cost and Benefit Analysis

Justice for Chunky Petition

How to Make a Brighter Tomorrow for Your Pet: Supporting the Animal Abuse Register

Tikkun Olam: Making a Better Britain Through the Animal Abuse Register

5 Things the Animal Abuse Register Will Provide the UK

Why Does Britain Need the Animal Abuse Register?

Get new posts by email

What are 5 Things the Animal Abuse Register Will Immediately Provide the UK?

sunrise at albert docks

What are 5 Things the Animal Abuse Register Will Immediately Provide the UK?

Introduction

Being a pet owner opens up your world by increasing your awareness of the world around you and makes you realise you are responsible for the care of another living thing that does not have a voice. It cannot tell you it is sad, it cannot tell you it is in pain, and it cannot care for itself. It relies on you to help it and to feed it. Similarly, being a pet owner makes you aware there are millions of people out there who cannot or live in oppression thereby living in fear of voicing their concerns. In a way, I believe, being a pet owner forces you into another world that forces examination of your feelings and how you can nurture your pet. So, how can you protect your pet and ensure they live in a safe world? The answer, an animal abuse register can easily improve their lives in five different ways.

Giving a Voice to Children, the Vulnerable and the Forgotten:

A purpose of the register is protecting the public from those who can harm them and in particular, protect those who struggle to speak for themselves, for example: children, the elderly, those who are unconscious, those who cannot make decisions for themselves; or those suffering from mental illness. This means as a part of the register, a check will need to be completed before employment can be offered for certain professions or before a professional body can accept an application for professional registration (e.g. teachers, nurses, doctors, psychologists). It will protect those who cannot speak for themselves are protected from those who can do them harm and protect them from those who may prevent them from speaking out.

Identifying Families at Risk:

Animal cruelty tends to be a crime committed by younger people and serve as a gateway to more serious crimes. The animal abuse register fundamental role is helping those in need. How? Whilst the knowledge of being put on a register may dissuade some from participating or committing a violence against an animal. The power of the register lies in identifying those who have been convicted of animal cruelty. It will allow schools, social services, Councils, and other bodies to identify those who may need support, intervention, or help. It will keep them from coming into contact with children, animals, and the vulnerable. By identifying those needing help, through conviction of animal cruelty, it will allow programs to be put in place, protect others from harm, identify those who might benefit form community based programs and keep them from further harming animals.

Making it Easier to Leave Domestic Abuse:

In the United States many states acknowledge the link between animal abuse and domestic abuse, read this great document for further information. For example, Arizona the definition of domestic abuse includes animals. This allows the family pet to be included domestic abuse protection orders and it makes it easier to leave a domestic abuse situation. Furthermore, the recognition by several states in the United States regarding the link between animal abuse and domestic abuse demonstrates the United Kingdom is lagging behind other developed Western countries in this area of legislation.

In answer to the question, how can an animal abuse register stop domestic abuse? The register is the first step in improving the laws for domestic abuse. Many times in a domestic abuse situation, the abuser will either threaten the family pet or abuse the pet in order to gain control by using fear. Having an animal abuse register will make it easier for someone who is experiencing domestic abuse to feel safe if they leave because all of their needs are being addressed. Also, the register will increase the criminal sentence for animal cruelty, thereby protecting the public from the abuser.

Helping police and law enforcement reduce crime:

It will be a tool whereby police can access information regarding those who have been convicted of animal cruelty. Unlike the Police National Computer, it will contain the name, address, and other relevant information of those convicted. It will work alongside other databases to help fight crime. Also, in some cases, it will help to deter people from committing animal cruelty thereby helping protecting animal and the vulnerable from abuse.

It will bring about a positive cultural change in the attitudes about animals and bring about a cultural change about the attitude about violence:

The current law lacks proper funding for enforcement and only provides six months in jail for the most horrific acts of violence. Having a register that includes proper funding for enforcement and tougher sentences sends a message about violence against animals not being tolerated. Also it sends another subtler message, violence is any form is not tolerated. I believe the power to transform UK society lies in the register ability to empower people. It gives information to people to decide about relationships, it provides a layer of protection, and provides a strong deterrent. By having a register, a little more control will be given to us and as a country the register will bring about a positive change.

Gandhi said a country is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. The animal abuse register is a way for the United Kingdom to care for its most vulnerable by keeping them from harm. I will admit the animal abuse register is not a panacea. It will not stop every case of domestic abuse and it will not, sadly, stop every incident of animal abuse. Nonetheless it fills a missing gap and it brings the United Kingdom in line with other countries. It offers protection and hope for the most vulnerable. By creating an animal abuse register it can be the firewall that stops someone from abusing and potentially help them to change their course in life. If the register can change one person’s life for the better or protect one-person form abuse the all of the work will be worth it.

Related Articles:

2017 General Election: What the Political Parties Do Not Want You to Know about Their Support for the Animal Abuse Register

How to Make a Brighter Tomorrow for Your Dog

Why is the Tennessee Model the best Model for the Animal Abuse Register in the UK

30 Things You Can Do Right Now to Show Your Support for the Animal Abuse Register

Link Between Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse

Get new posts by email