It is urgent that governments make decisions in favor of animals not only to protect their lives, but also that of human beings; epidemics can be prevented with action.
The lack of biosecurity on farms and the wildlife trade around the world is creating the perfect opportunity for viruses to mutate and spread with increasing momentum. The NGO World Animal Protection argues that these are just two of the big problems that governments are failing to protect people and animals.
As a result, the organization recently launched the second edition of the Animal Protection Index (API) 2020, which identified a surprising lack of legislation on animal welfare.
Countries were ranked from A (being the highest score) to G (being the weakest score) according to their policy and legislation. In Latin America, for example, Mexico has been ranked as C, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Peru and Colombia as D, while Argentina was below with an E, along with Venezuela. This is due to an outdated animal protection law and a low presence of the state when it comes to animal welfare. Unfortunately, no country has obtained an “A”, something that worries researchers.
In addition, World Animal Protection states that urgent improvements are needed in the 50 countries that were evaluated. One of the most striking results obtained is that countries such as Morocco, Iran, Algeria and Belarus still lack the basic legal framework necessary to protect animals.
Animal welfare in Latin America: main problems and areas to be improved
Specifically in Argentina, the organization has discovered that, although there is Law 14346 that prohibits abuse and cruelty towards animals, it does not explicitly recognize their ability to feel. That is why in 2016, the court ruled a habeas corpus in favor of the freedom of Cecilia, a chimpanzee who was in terrible conditions of captivity at the Mendoza Zoo. In order to help her, the justice was asked to consider her a subject of law. Finally, after a year, the claim was approved, laying the foundations to recognize that animals are bearers of rights and that they should be considered as persons before the law.
Another important point that World AnimalProtection highlights is the fact that the harsh confinement conditions in which farm animals live are not prohibited. Argentina is not yet adjusting to international standards that substitute pain practices and that allow animals to have a dignified life in which they can develop their natural behaviors.
Animals such as pigs and chickens in intensive farming systems are kept in crowded conditions, which leads to poor hygiene and prevents them from displaying natural behaviors, causing stress and subsequently weakened immune systems. This causes enormous suffering for both wild and farm animals and creates a deadly hotbed of disease.
On the other hand, Mexico has obtained the highest score within the entire American continent, which means that it is in an average legislation on animal welfare, with several areas that must be worked on. For example, the index showed that in Mexico there is room for improvement, especially in the world of entertainment.
In addition, it found that even though almost all Mexican states have separate animal welfare legislation, which means that almost all animals in Mexico have some level of protection, state legislation on animal welfare is inconsistent, with some states providing more protections for some categories of animals than others. Similarly, while all states prohibit animal fighting, there are some exemptions; Only two states (Jalisco and Coahuila) prohibit bullfighting, and cockfighting is allowed in all states.
Regarding Chile, the organization found that despite the fact that Law 20380 for the Protection of Animals (the main legislation related to animal protection in Chile) recognizes that animals are sentient beings, they are still defined as “movable property”In the Chilean Civil Code. The report also highlights that good animal welfare practices are implemented with respect to pig production, which is why it is asked to extend them to other species of farm animals so that all can be protected. Similarly, it is recommended that the Chilean government enact legislation with specific requirements for wild animals in captivity and for the humane treatment of stray animals.
At the same time, it has been detected that Colombia has shown progress in several areas related to animal welfare thanks to the enactment of Law 1774 of 2016 that modified Law 84 and added a paragraph to the Civil Code, recognizing animals as sentient beings . However, much remains to be done in terms of bullfighting, cockfighting and the exploitation of animals for the fur industry.
Changes to be implemented around the world to ensure the lives of animals and humans
Globally, serious animal welfare concerns range from intensive agriculture, exploitation of animals for entertainment, and the wildlife trade. The latter, a proven threat from disease outbreaks such as the most recent global epidemic, the coronavirus.
The API evaluated four fundamental aspects:
- The recognition of animal sensitivity and the importance for the prohibition of animal suffering.
- The existence of animal protection legislation.
- The creation of government support agencies.
- Adherence, compliance and support to international standards of animal welfare.
The report, in addition to evaluating legislation and government policies, makes a series of recommendations for each country to formally recognize animals as sensitive in the legislation, given the scientific evidence that has shown that all vertebrates, cephalopods and decapod crustaceans are sensitive.
The API urges various countries to ban fur farming, which is inherently cruel and causes pain and distress to animals, religious slaughter, a ban on the use of animals for entertainment, and a cessation of illegal wildlife trade, such as the pangolin, considered a possible transmitter of the coronavirus, among many other aspects detailed throughout this information.
Kelly Dent, Global Director of External Engagement at World Animal Protection stated that “Good animal welfare practices help prevent disease, and the recent coronavirus outbreak proves it. By keeping animals clean, healthy, and providing enough space for them to exhibit natural behavior, the threat of zoonotic diseases will ultimately be combated..
“We call on all governments to immediately improve their animal welfare standards and indeed become current and critical debates on food, public health and sustainable development.“.
World Animal Protection released a 30-second video earlier this year to highlight the ways we are not protecting animals, asking the question: Does the life of an animal mean nothing?
A question we must ask governments that currently lack the most basic animal welfare policies.
Human life is as important as animal life.