The Most Important Animal Welfare Event In NZ
The Most Important Animal Welfare Event In NZ
The NZ Companion Animal Council Conference to be held at the Stamford Plaza, Auckland, on October 7 and 8, is being described as “the most important animal welfare event ever”.
The conference brings together leading players in the animal welfare and animal control fields from New Zealand and overseas. International speakers include Joyce D’Silva (UK), William Gomaa (USA), and Antoine Goetschel (Switzerland, by video).
In addition an impressive array of local speakers will appear, including the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Green Party MP Mojo Mathers, with lively legal and political debates fully exploring the proposed animal welfare policy in New Zealand.
The conference is timed to coincide with the reading and submission period for the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill and the current round of consultation entitled ‘Animal Welfare Matters’ being undertaken by the Ministry for Primary Industries.
“I believe this is a critical time in the history of animal welfare in Aotearoa,” says Bob Kerridge, Patron of the NZ Companion Animal Council and organiser of the conference.
“We applaud the current review of the Animal Welfare Act. The last review of the Act was 14 yeas ago so it is long overdue. And we’re right behind the worthy sentiments that have prompted the Ministry for Primary Industries to call for public consultation on the review.
“I would like to see an Animal Welfare Act emerge from this review that is resolute in its desire to prevent all forms of animal cruelty and abuse, and is undiluted by any political or economic provisos that may in any way compromise the welfare of animals.
“The job now is to ensure those sentiments are turned into legislation that will guarantee the welfare of the animals in New Zealand who share their lives with us. The purpose of this conference is to raise the issues that must be faced if we want to achieve a more effective and compassionate piece of legislation at the end of the process.”
Mr Kerridge, who is Executive Director of SPCA Auckland and founder of the NZ Companion Animal Council, says this year’s conference is the most important one ever staged.
“Our current Animal Welfare Act, even with the proposed amendments, does not address the horrors of intensive farming techniques, cruel hunting practices, or the daily abuse inflicted on many thousands of companion animals. Nor does it impose punishments necessary to deter animal abusers. New Zealand lags behind many of the countries we like to compare ourselves with, such as the UK, Switzerland, and even Australia. Now is the opportunity for us to catch up, and perhaps even lead the way.
“We want to confront New Zealanders with our collective failure to protect these highly vulnerable members of our society, and we want to put the safety and wellbeing of all animals firmly on the political agenda.
The annual Blessing of the Animals service will precede the conference at St Matthew-in-the-city at 12.30pm on Sunday 6 October 2013.
More info: www.nzcac.org.nz
The Importance of Sentience
11.45am, Day 1, Monday 7 October 2013
Joyce D’Silva, Ambassador for Compassion in World Farming, UK
Sheep can recognise the faces of at least 10 people and 50 other sheep for at least two years and mourn absent individuals, according to the Babraham Institute in Cambridge. Researchers at McGill University, Montreal, have found that mice exhibit empathy for other mice in pain, especially mice they already know.
Cambridge University scientists have found that cows experience euphoric excitement when they learn how to open a gate leading to a food reward. Lame chickens can learn to choose feed laced with painkiller to alleviate their discomfort. Elephants make graves by breaking branches to cover their dead.
The evidence for sentience in animals in vast and compelling, but our failure to recognise this sentience still underpins the brutal factory farming systems used throughout the world and in New Zealand. When will our lawmakers accept the reality that animals are sentient beings, and therefore capable of feeling? And when will this be reflected in animal welfare laws that protect animals from suffering?
Joyce D’Silva is the former CEO of Compassion in World Farming, the UK organisation that successfully campaigned to have the concept of animal welfare based on sentience included in the European Union Treaty.
More info: www.ciwf.org.uk
Sentient Beings and the Dignity of Presence
12.45pm, Day 1, Monday 7 October 2013
The Animals’ Voice – Securing Interests Through Law
10.15am, Day 2, Tuesday 8 October 2013
Antoine Goetschel, Attorney-at-Law, International Consultant in the Animal in Law and Ethics, Zurich, Switzerland (by video link)
Switzerland has some of the toughest animal welfare laws in the world. It was the first country to ban battery cages, but the law goes much further than that. In Switzerland, horses must not be tied up and they must be kept in close proximity to at least one other horse. Puppies may not be separated from their mothers before 56 days after their birth. Hamsters must be kept in groups. Cats must have contact with humans or other cats every day.
How does New Zealand’s animal welfare laws stack up against those of other countries such as Switzerland? Are we a world leader or lagging behind? This presentation will include an honest and hard-hitting appraisal of New Zealand’s international reputation, and what we need to do to create meaningful and humane animal legislation that leads the world.
Mr Goetschel argues that although animals are worldwide legally regarded as property, a balance must still be found between the owner’s fundamental right of property and the animal’s right to freedom from unnecessary suffering, pain, damage, and fear. Animal welfare must be valued in the same way we value the fundamental constitutional rights of property, freedom of commerce, of teaching, and of religion.
Antoine Goetschel is an animal welfare lawyer who represents the interests of animals in criminal cases as Zurich’s official Animal Welfare Attorney, the first position of its kind in the world. Mr Goetschel established the Foundation for the Animal in the Law, the largest public library of texts on animal welfare law and animal ethics in the German-speaking world. Mr Goetschel is also a world-renowned animal welfare author, speaker, campaigner, and theorist.
More info: www.afgoetschel.com/en
Trap-Neuter-Return – The Contemporary Approach for Community Cats
12.00noon, Day 2, Tuesday 8 October 2013
William Gomaa, Associate Director of Law and Policy at Alley Cat Allies, Washington DC, USA
Stray cat population control is a hot topic in New Zealand right now so William Gomaa’s presentation on the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) approach to controlling stray cat populations is extremely relevant.
The presentation will reveal compelling international evidence supporting effectiveness of TNR policies in humanely managing stray cat populations and will address ongoing misunderstandings around the issue, including how NZ law clearly differentiates between ‘stray’ and ‘feral’ cats.
William Gomaa is an attorney who has worked at Alley Cat Allies on animal law issues for over six years leading a team focused on expanding humane approaches for cats. He has helped successfully draft and enact state and local legislation improving policies for cats, and has led campaigns to put in place those policies. Will is a frequent speaker to animal control agencies and humane societies on how to implement effective approaches for cats.
More info: www.alleycat.org