Animal Welfare and Legislation

Summary:

Animal welfare has been more arid more widely accepted as a scientific discipline during the last 25 years and our knowledge of animal functioning; including the extent to which they are sentient has increased. One result of this has been that the public have demanded more legislation to protect animals and this has been passed in increasing numbers of countries but there are still many countries that do not have adequate laws protecting animals. One of the key ways to improve animal welfare in the long term is for all those who use or have responsibility for animals to receive adequate education and training about the biological functioning of those animals, including ways in which their welfare might be made better or worse. To date, retailers' codes of practice have had the major effect on the welfare of farm animals although both laws and codes are needed. Further scientific studies on animal welfare are also needed and it is important to develop better methodologies for the enforcement of laws and codes and to provide adequate manpower to do this. Where the impact of different factors on animal health, or any other aspect of animal welfare is being reviewed, careful analysis should involve not only risks but also benefits. Legislators are not just risk managers and a balance has to be struck betweenrisks and benefits in every area of legislation.

Donald M. Broom
Centre for Animal Welfare and Anthrozoology, Department of Veterinary Medicine.

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