Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Austria enacts strict animal rights law
VIENNA -- Hens will be free to run around barnyards, lions and tigers will vanish from circus acts, and Dobermans will sport what nature intended -- floppy ears and longer tails -- under a tough animal rights law adopted yesterday in Austria.
The anticruelty law, one of Europe's harshest, will ban pet owners from cropping their dogs' ears or tails, force farmers to uncage their chickens, and ensure that puppies and kittens no longer swelter in pet shop windows.
Violators will be subject to fines of $2,420, and in cases of extreme cruelty could be fined up to $18,160 and have their animals seized by the authorities.
Lawmakers, some holding stuffed toy animals, voted unanimously to enact the law, which takes effect in January and will be phased in over several years. Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said Austria was sending a stern message to the rest of Europe and the world about respecting animals.
''Austria is taking the role of pioneer," Schuessel told parliament, vowing to press for similar legislation across the European Union. ''This new law will give both producers and consumers a good feeling, and it lifts animal protection to the highest level internationally."
It is the latest example of how the animals’ rights issue is gaining attention across Europe:
The European Commission has proposed a sweeping overhaul of EU regulations on transporting livestock across the continent to give more protection to the hundreds of thousands of animals that are shipped daily and to prevent deaths and abuse.
In March, Hungary's parliament banned cockfighting and the breeding or sale of animals for fighting, and it made animal torture -- previously a misdemeanor -- a felony punishable by up to two years in prison.
Last summer, the region of Catalonia, which passed Spain's first animal cruelty law in 1988, banned the killing of abandoned cats and dogs in animal shelters and raised fines for cruelty to as much as $24,200.
Italy is considering a law that forbids sending horses to the slaughterhouse after their competitive careers are over, and Germany plans to phase out mass farming of caged chickens by the end of 2006.
Austrians' love for animals dates to imperial times, with the famed Lipizzaner stallions pampered as a source of national pride.
Aimed primarily at poultry and other livestock, Austria's new law also outlaws the use of lions and other wild animals in circuses and makes it illegal to restrain dogs with chains, choke collars, or ''invisible fences" that administer mild electric shocks to confine animals.
The measure enjoyed the support of all four main parties in the National Assembly, where Minister of Social Affairs Herbert Haupt drew laughter by holding up a stuffed toy dog while addressing lawmakers yesterday.
Haupt, a veterinarian, had pushed for the law since the 1980s. It still needs the president's signature, a formality given its unanimous passage.
''Animals and consumers are the clear winners with this law," said Ulrike Sima, a lawmaker specializing in animal protection issues for the opposition Socialist Party. A key provision bans the widespread practice of confining chickens to small cages on farms and makes it a crime to bind cattle tightly with ropes.
Pet owners and breeders no longer will be allowed to crop puppies' ears or tails, a common practice with certain breeds such as Doberman pinschers. Sweden has banned the practice since 1989.
Invisible fences are out, too, though they are nowhere near as ubiquitous here as they are in US suburbs.
''This is a first step in the right direction," said Andreas Sax of the Austrian animal rights organization Four Paws.
Sax said the law will not do enough to improve conditions for cattle and pigs, who often are injured in cramped pens with slatted floors, and he criticized some sections he said were too vague.
The Austrian Farm Federation opposed the law, arguing that it will increase costs for farmers and could lead to more imports of poultry from countries with looser restrictions.
Chicken farmers will be allowed several years to phase in the new rules. Those who recently invested in new cages will have until 2020 to turn their birds loose to run free inside fences.
Rome bans goldfish bowls
ROME: Rome has banned goldfish bowls, which animal rights activists say are cruel, and has made regular dog walking mandatory, the city council says.
Under a new by-law, round fish bowls were banned along with fish and other creatures being given away for fairground prizes.
The moves came after a national law was passed to allow jail sentences for people who abandon cats or dogs.
"It's good to do whatever we can for our animals who in exchange for a little love fill our existence with their attention," said Monica Cirinna, the councillor behind the by-law. "The civilisation of a city can also be measured by this," she told Rome daily Il Messaggero.
The newspaper reported round bowls caused fish to go blind. No one at Rome council was available to confirm this was why they were banned, but many experts said round bowls provided insufficient oxygen for fish.
In July 2004, parliament passed a law setting big fines and jail terms for people who abandoned pets. Since then local governments have added their own animal welfare rules, many of which will be difficult to police.
The northern city of Turin passed a law in April to fine pet owners up to 500 euro ($A821.69) if they did not walk their dogs at least three times a week.
The new Rome by-law required owners to regularly exercise their dogs and banned them from docking their pets' tails for aesthetic reasons. It also provided legal recognition for cat lovers who provided food for the colonies of strays which lived everywhere from the city's ancient Roman ruins to modern office car parks.
Animal rights groups estimated about 150,000 pet dogs and 200,000 cats were abandoned in Italy every year.
Another article on the same subject:
Ariel David, Associated Press Sunday, May 21, 2006
Every dog has its day, and this could be it for every mistreated kitty, pup and parrot in Rome.
Animal monitors are on the prowl, working hard to get officials to apply strict new guidelines that, if enforced, could be the toast of the animal kingdom.
A city ordinance that went into effect late in November gives dogs the right to daily walks and protects stray cats. It slaps fines on Romans who leave their pets in a vehicle in the hot months between April and October or confine their fish to the classic, round bowls instead of a good-sized aquarium.
Breaking the new rules can mean fines of up to $600 US. More serious offences, such as using animals to beg, can lead to the pet being confiscated.
"Many beggars always have puppies. They buy them on the illegal market for a few euros," said Francesca Cantalini, a monitor for Rome's animal rights office. "The puppies are often sedated, so that they don't move around, and when they grow up who knows what happens to them."
She spoke while combing the streets around Rome's central train station for beggars using animals. She soon spotted a woman in a dark headscarf kneeling on the pavement, a white puppy in her lap attracting sympathy and shiny coins from passers-by.
Cantalini called police, trying to catch the attention of a passing patrol and pleading on her cellphone for half an hour. The police never showed up, and soon the beggar moved on, lifting the tiny mongrel from the pavement and taking it with her.
The case demonstrated a major shortfall in the new rules: monitors need police intervention to hand out fines or confiscate animals, said Giampaolo Vassallo, Cantalini's teammate.
"The hardest part is getting the police involved -- it can be very frustrating sometimes," he said after failing to rescue the puppy.
Ilaria Ferri, head the Italian chapter of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said that as a result of this shortcoming, the city ordinance would amount to "good intentions that will stay on paper," just like Italy's many national laws on animal rights. She pointed out that each year Italians abandon some 350,000 pets, mostly cats and dogs, despite a law that makes it a criminal offence.
Rome officials insist the new rules can be a useful tool to educate owners on how to respect animals. "It's like an instructions booklet for all pet owners," said Roberta Pinto, director of the city's animal rights office. "It sends the message that animals are living beings and have rights," she said. "Of course, it will take a lot of work to modify certain bad habits." Pinto said her office is working to co-ordinate the monitors' efforts with municipal police and to train officers in the new rules.
Other no-noes in the ordinance include displaying animals in pet shop windows or offering them as prizes at fairs. Electric and choke collars are banned, as are trimming cats' claws or dogs' tails and ears for esthetic purposes.
The ordinance also gives legal recognition to Rome's "gattare," the "cat ladies" who feed thousands of strays, and grants them the authority to care for the city's colonies of cats. Municipality officials said the law was too recent to provide any figures on how many violations had been committed.
Although police intervention is sometimes crucial, Cantalini and Vassallo said the measure was reserved for the more serious cases of mistreatment.
The two usually spend their days going door-to-door, talking to the owners of pets seen languishing on tiny apartment balconies or tied to short chains. "We'd rather educate than punish people," Cantalini said. "We talk to owners about their pet and try to check back with them often."
The monitors demonstrated this approach when they spotted a man begging on Via Frattina -- one of Rome's glitziest shopping streets -- while surrounded by a small menagerie of four dogs.
The man gave his name as Laszlo and proudly displayed the membership card of an animal protection group he belonged to in his native Hungary. Now he is homeless, living with Panna, a large white shepherd, a portly boxer named Ginzburg as well as Zaza and Bahur, two brown mutts.
"Obviously he lives with his dogs and takes good care of them. They are much better off with him than in a crowded dog pound," Cantalini said. The pets are all in good health and even have a vet, she explained while chatting with Laszlo. "Don't worry," she said while petting Zaza. "We'd never take them away from you."
New animal rights party launched
A new political party campaigning for animal rights has launched in the UK.
Animals Count is calling for an end to live transports to Europe and a total ban on hunting. It plans to contest assembly elections in Wales next May. The party is linked to a Dutch one which made history last month by getting two candidates elected as MPs.
At its launch in London, party chairman Jasmijn de Boo said "First slaves were liberated. Then women and children. Now it is time to do the same for animals."
The party, which held a launch attended by 200 people at Kensington Town Hall, has pledged to avoid the violent tactics often associated with the animal rights movement. Its manifesto will prioritise banning hunting and ending the live transport of animals to Europe.
Ms de Boo, 31, said many people may not see the point of her party's stance, but added "soon they will be taking us seriously". She said the main priorities include ending intensive farming systems with poor welfare consequences and ending transportation of animals to continental Europe. She also said her party would like to see an independent scientific inquiry into the validity of animal research and call for a ban, without loopholes, on all hunting.
BBC political correspondent Norman Smith has said Animals Count could possibly take voters away from the Green Party, potentially splitting the ethical vote. But he said it would be a real "slog" to achieve political representation and this would be time that could be spent lobbying traditional parties on animal rights matters.
When this issue arose at a question and answer session, Ms de Boo refused to rule out running against the Green Party in certain constituencies, although she said a formal policy on the matter was yet to be formulated. She added that the party's stance on such issues on "human" issues such as education, public services and the economy were also yet to be fleshed out. Earlier Ms de Boo, told BBC Radio Five Live there were huge numbers of potential supporters.
"There are more than 3.3m people in this country who support animal charities every year - they donate about £570m pounds to those charities," she said. "And I think lots of them are disappointed in the current political system. The problem is that animal issues never rise to the top of the agenda of any of the existing political parties." She said candidates would stand at elections for the National Assembly in Wales.
"We intend to contest the Welsh Assembly elections in May 2007, and one third of the seats there, 20 seats, are open to proportional representation, so I think it is definitely possible to get an MP in the Welsh Assembly. "Then we will later extend the work into England and Scotland."
In the Netherlands, the Party for Animals, founded in October 2002 with a smiling dairy cow as its logo, became the first animal rights party to win seats in a European parliament.
Marianne Thyme, one of the Party for Animals' two elected MPs, offered some advice to her British counterparts. "People who want to start a party for the animals must not be afraid to be a small group," she said. "They have to realise that they are pioneers and that nine out of 10 will not understand what they are doing but, fortunately, a lot of people don't want to be nine out of 10 anymore."
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION: ENSURING
ALL ANIMALS COUNT IN 2007
Animals Count http://www.animalwelfareparty.org
Unlike Canada, EU surges ahead on animal welfare reform
The recent uproar over Canada's seal hunt (and the Governor General's appetite for seal heart) saw widespread charges of hypocrisy levelled at the European Union over its ban on seal products. Critics repeatedly point to Spanish bullfights or French foie gras production as evidence of Europe's poor animal welfare record. While these practices deserve criticism, the truth is that Europe is light years ahead of Canada in animal welfare policy. In fact, among developed countries, Canada is at the bottom of the league in its treatment of animals.
It is a well-documented fact that the European Union has led the world in reforming farm animal welfare, working to reduce the suffering of hundreds of millions of animals. Some examples:
In 2007, the EU banned veal crates. The crates, so small that the incarcerated calf cannot turn around for most of its 16-week life, have been illegal in Britain since 1990.
Sow stalls, which keep pregnant pigs in such close confinement they are virtually unable to move throughout their 16-week pregnancy, will be banned in the EU in 2013. Tethers, used to further restrict sows' movement, were prohibited in 2006.
The EU has agreed to ban battery cages for laying hens in 2012, stopping a practice that denies the birds virtually all their natural behaviours and keeps them so cramped they cannot even flap a wing.
All these systems and practices remain in use in Canada, where farm animal welfare is governed by an entirely voluntary, unaudited set of "recommended codes of practice."
Moreover, the EU is committed to further advancing animal welfare reform. A protocol in the Treaty of Amsterdam legally recognizes animals as sentient beings and requires member states to "pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals." Animal welfare standards are being incorporated in EU trade agreements.
Farm animal welfare is also moving forward elsewhere. California recently banned battery cages, sow stalls and veal crates. Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Arizona and Maine have passed legislation banning intensive confinement systems. Nothing comparable is happening in Canada.
A report by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) released earlier this year ranked Canada well behind Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the EU in terms of farm animal welfare. The report found that all these jurisdictions spent millions of dollars on animal welfare, while Canada's latest five-year agriculture plan virtually ignores the issue. The CFHS, a mainstream organization representing most of Canada's SPCAs and humane societies, said Canada's record was "shameful."
The same could be said of Canada's treatment of animals generally. In 2008, all Canadian animal welfare organizations loudly opposed Bill S-203, the federal government's hopelessly weak animal cruelty legislation. Despite this opposition, the bill passed, leaving Canada's animals without the kind of legal protection they have in other countries. The legislation's predicted ineffectiveness has been borne out, with several horrific animal cruelty cases resulting in little or no penalty for the perpetrators. This included the acquittal of a man who killed five dogs with a hammer and the case of man who threw a kitten off a balcony and then ran over it with his car – the charges were dropped. The CFHS says Michael Vick, the American football player charged for involvement in a dogfighting ring, would not have been convicted had his crimes taken place in Canada.
Less than one-quarter of one per cent of charges under the animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code result in convictions. An International Fund for Animal Welfare survey of animal cruelty laws in 14 countries ranked Canada last in a comparison of effective animal protection legislation.
Despite all this, defenders of Canada's commercial seal hunt continue to point at Europe's bullfighting and foie gras. Yet a closer look reveals that there is considerable European opposition to both practices. Fifteen European states, including Germany, Norway, Denmark and Austria, have banned the production of foie gras. Bullfighting is banned in a number of EU countries, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. Polls show most Europeans abhor bullfighting. Even within Spain there is opposition – Barcelona banned the practice in 2004. Foie gras and bullfighting are staunchly defended by entrenched minority interests, but everyone can see which way the wind is blowing.
To people who really care about animals, all the finger pointing and accusations of hypocrisy criss-crossing the Atlantic are meaningless. What matters is progress in ending animal suffering.
Sadly, in Canada, we are not making much.
December 3, 2009 Europe has legally recognized animals as sentient beings according to the Lisbon Treaty, which went into effect December 1. Article 13 of the treaty states, “…the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals…”
June 7, 2011: Carmina Gooch’s ongoing correspondence with her MLA, Jane Thornthwaite, pertaining to animal welfare, farm and food animal reforms, subsidies, cruelty matters and the SPCA, led to a meeting with the Honourable Don McRae, Agriculture Minister, and other government officials. The need for animal protection law is paramount and studying the history can help us move forward with successful initiatives for today and in the future. All animals are important members of society and cannot be isolated from social change, politics, culture, and economics.
HSE - 20110602 PM 001/dmm/1330 THURSDAY, JUNE 2, 2011
J. Thornthwaite: In the gallery I'd like to greet my constituent Carmina Gooch and her partner Terry Roberge, who came to visit the Minister of Agriculture with me today. Would the House please welcome them.
February 9, 2012 There is no government agency overseeing the well-being of animals used for agriculture, entertainment or commercial purposes in B.C. despite a rise in cruelty investigations. Government must respond and make it a priority to protect our animals. We have sent them the following: Australia's Labor Party has voted to establish an Independent Office of Animal Welfare.
February 2012 A Comparison of Canadian and EU Animal Welfare Standards (created by Animal Alliance Canada in December 2011)
Comment/Update: The Netherlands Partij voor de dieren (Party for Animals) wins again as does Germany’s Tierschutzpartei (Animal Welfare Party)
November 19, 2014 WTO is Biggest Threat to Global Progress on Animal Welfare
November 26, 2014 It's time for a charter of rights for animals
November 30, 2014 Canada given 'D' rating in animal protection, welfare
May 16/16 Ontario Green Party members voted overwhelmingly in favour of four separate policy resolutions related to animal protection, including one that adopts key measures in Animal Justice’s Animal Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is an Animal Bill of Rights, which recognizes that nonhuman animals are sentient and deserve legal rights, including the right to be represented in court.