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Universal declaration on animal welfare supported

New Zealand Veterinary Association
Media Release
20 May 2008

Universal declaration on animal welfare supported

The New Zealand Veterinary Association is urging the Government to sign a proposal for an international animal welfare declaration, to combat cruelty and neglect.

The Association has signed the proposal for a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, which recognises that animals are sentient beings deserving of consideration and respect.

“Animal welfare is the prime concern of veterinarians, so we had no hesitation in supporting the declaration,” says NZVA president John Maclachlan.

“We believe that New Zealanders will agree with the principles of the declaration and want to see our Government and other countries getting in behind it.”

Dr Maclachlan hopes that the declaration, which is the world’s first international agreement on animal welfare, will ultimately be adopted by the United Nations.

“Having governmental and United Nations recognition of the declaration would give greater prominence to the health and welfare of animals and send a strong message that cruelty and neglect are unacceptable.

“In New Zealand animals are a vital part of our economy, but they also enhance our lives by providing companionship and recreation. We owe it to them to look after their health and welfare.”

Veterinary associations around the world have signed the proposal. In May last year, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which involves the Chief Veterinary Officers from 169 countries (including New Zealand), passed a resolution supporting the development of a declaration.

Dr Maclachlan says because the internet and email communication are making the world a smaller place, messages like the importance of caring for animals can reach people in far-flung parts of the planet.

“Animal welfare may be a new concept for many people in the world, but today’s technology means a universal declaration is capable of effecting real change.”

He says while New Zealand has high standards of animal welfare and legislation to protect animals, in developing countries animal welfare make take a back seat to other issues.

“A Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare will help to raise awareness of the need to treat animals with respect.”

Ends.../

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