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Government Must Make High Animal Welfare Standards a Reality

21 August 2012

Government Urged To Make High Animal Welfare Standards a Reality

The review of the AWA is an opportunity for New Zealand to achieve the best animal welfare in the world, says leading animal advocacy group SAFE. The group says that, like the nation’s ‘100% Pure’ brand, the country’s reputation for high animal welfare standards is presently more aspiration than substance, as there are holes in the regulatory system, little enforcement and a serious lack of funding.

“All of these can be addressed as part this review and SAFE urges the public to have their say on the key animal welfare issues by making a submission during the review of the Animal Welfare Act,” says SAFE Executive director Hans Kriek.

As part of the review, SAFE is calling for the establishment of a Commissioner for Animals, a new office outside the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), which could independently represent animal welfare. “There is a clear conflict of interest within the MPI, whose goal is to increase agricultural profit, often at the expense of the animals it is supposed to be protecting,” says Mr Kriek.

“It’s akin to the fox being in charge of the hen house,” he points out. “Responsibility for animal welfare should be removed from the Ministry as a priority.”

“Animal welfare also needs to be backed up with proper funding. The use of animals generates over $21 billion for our economy each year yet the total devoted to animal protection is only $6 million, less than 003% of the income derived from animals, risking the integrity of the whole system. No matter what changes are made to the Act, you cannot expect results without financial support. Sixty million dollars was spent on high performance athletes in the Olympics, and that’s how we got our best-ever result,” says Mr Kriek.

SAFE believes that the increasing use of factory farming practices, such as indoor cubicle farming for dairy cows and colony cages for egg production, makes a mockery of our animal welfare legislation and potentially damages our international reputation.

SAFE has set out key steps for the country to become a world leader in animal welfare, including proper funding, enhanced regulation, proper sentencing and bans on certain unacceptable practices. “If the MPI followed these steps, New Zealand would truly be a world leader in animal welfare. We don’t want to be second, or one hundredth in the world, we want to be first,” says Mr Kriek.

It’s time for laws that work for animals and the Animal Welfare Act review provides New Zealand with an opportunity to match its aspirations,” says Mr Kriek.

Find out more about SAFE’s key recommendations, and make a submission: www.animalwelfare.org.nz

Final date for submissions: 28 September 2012

SAFE’s recommendations for world-leading animal welfare:

1. Establish an independent Commission for Animals: a representative in government who can advocate on behalf of animals.

2. Empower the animal welfare committee: give the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) independence, more funds & powers, and full time and skilled staff.

3. Animal welfare is a high priority: give it proper, significant funding.

4. Enforce minimum standards: make the codes of welfare directly enforceable as regulations, to ensure breaches of standards can be prosecuted.

5. Close factory farming loopholes: invoke exemptions under 73(3) only in truly exceptional circumstances, and only for a phase-out period of no more than five years.

6. Real justice for animal cruelty: provide express guidelines and sentencing principles for judges on animal welfare cases.

7. Overhaul the ethics committees that oversee animal experimentation: give the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) independence, proper funding, mandatory criteria and accountability.

8. End cruel practices: ban mulesing, tail docking, induced moulting of poultry, dubbing of poultry, cow inductions, and the boiling alive of crabs, rock lobsters and crayfish.

9. Give meaningful protection for wild animals that are hunted: give wild animals the same legal protection as domestic or farmed animals.

10. Ensure live exports never resume: amend the Act to explicitly ban the live export of animals for slaughter.

11. Ensure no cosmetic testing on animals: amend the Act to explicitly ban the use of animals for cosmetic testing.

12. Keep exotic animals out of circuses: amend the Act to explicitly ban the use of animals in circuses.

13. Keep dolphins out of captivity – let’s make it law: amend the Act to explicitly ban the keeping of cetaceans in captivity.

ENDS

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