New Zealand Says “Animals Are Sentient Beings”!


Last month a landmark bill was passed in New Zealand and it will be making animals everywhere a whole lot happier. The ‘Animal Welfare Amendment Bill’, which as it’s name states, seeks to protect animals by recognising them as ‘sentient beings’.
That sounds pretty awesome right? Imagine if animals were all treated and protected as beings who matter all over the world, if we worked together to make our earth the best it can be for all its living inhabitants. Doesn’t that sound like the kind of world you wish to live in? Well New Zealand has put its best foot forward when it comes to this matter and has made their feelings clear that animals are important too! I for one say well done New Zealand! Now if only the rest of the world will follow!

To give us a clearer picture of what ‘sentient’ means, Dr. Virginia Williams, head of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee says,

“To say that animals are sentient is to state explicitly that they can experience both positive and negative emotions including pain and distress.”

This new amendment makes animal testing, hunting of wild animals and capture or ill treatment now illegal. Of course animal rights activists are rejoicing over this new set of laws, and as seeing all living creatures as sentient. A fact which we’ve really known as far back as history can take us. Protecting these animals is a major roll more countries should be doing. There are 11 countries so far who have recognized animals as either sentient beings, or as being capable of feeling pain and suffering, and have implemented animal welfare acts. Chinaintroduced a law protecting 420 endangered animals recently, which is commendable in it’s own right, but protecting absolutely all creatures- now that’s worth the gold star!

Here is a small excerpt from section 1 of the bill, titled ‘Care of Animals’ which explains that previously acceptable behaviour towards the treatment and care of animals will now have specific procedures and standards.

“Purpose

The purpose of this Part is to ensure that owners of animals and persons in charge of animals attend properly to
the welfare of those animals.

This Part accordingly—
owners of animals, and persons in charge of animals, to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the physical, health, and behavioural needs of the animals are met in accordance with both— good practice; and scientific knowledge; and requires owners of ill or injured animals, and persons in charge of such animals, to ensure that the animals receive treatment that alleviates any unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress from which the animals are suffering; and imposes restrictions on the carrying out of surgical procedures on animals; and provides for the classification of the types of surgical procedures that may be performed on animals; and specifies the persons or classes of persons who may perform each class of such surgical procedures; and specifies certain minimum conditions that must be observed in relation to the transportation of animals.”

This is just one of many of it’s policies in the Animal Welfare Act. To find out more the whole Act can be read here.

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