Sunday Tasmanian; by columnist Anne Boxall, Sunday 2nd September, 2012, Pet Column
There is no debate over whether the human race’s treatment of animals is ethical or not.
It’s unethical and we know it. The question is just how much injustice do we want to partake in?
This is the question Australian journalist and published writer Anna Krien raises in her work Us and Them – On the Importance of Animals (Quarterly Essay No 45, March 2012). It’s a powerful read which tests our personal limits as to what’s okay and what’s not in the treatment of animals as well as highlighting our contradictory relationships with them.
Krien’s work doesn’t attempt to provide a set view. “I don’t write for people who already know what they think, or to affirm what they believe and don’t believe” she says. Instead, Krien challenges us to mull over ideas and information to know our own minds…“don’t handball this.”
Much of the information is confronting, especially that around live cattle export and animal testing. Close to seven million animals are used for research and teaching in Australia and their lives aren’t happy ones. Who’d have thought that Sydney has its own baboon colony for the purpose of animal testing?
Knowing these things is important if we want to make informed decisions but information isn’t always readily available to the general public.
People whose moral compass leads them to seek the decent treatment of animals need to be able to rely on effective animal welfare legislation and enforcement.
In this state Tasmania), a review of the Animal Welfare Act is currently being undertaken with changes proposed to reflect growing expectations for the humane treatment of animals. Proposals include reviewing penalties for animal cruelty offences, improving the capacity to investigate and prosecute offenders and addressing community concerns over puppy farming.
It’s very encouraging to see regulation of breeders as a focus of the review, along with the development of animal welfare guidelines for breeding dogs, with enforceable standards to follow.
The Animal Welfare Act is designed to prevent neglect and cruelty and ensure the welfare of animals, although it seems not all animals are equal under the Act and some troubling exceptions can apply. It’s a good question – how much injustice towards animals do we want to partake in?
A discussion paper seeking feedback on the proposed changes can be found at www.dpipwe.tas.gov.au This is an excellent opportunity to let legislators know your mind when it comes to protecting animals, which changes you support and those you don’t, along with identifying issues not raised in this review that need addressing. The period for public comment runs until 16 November 2012.