Last Tuesday, New Zealand joined France in setting a precedent for the rest of the world to follow by legally recognizing animals, like humans, are sentient beings- basically meaning animals are able to feel and perceive things.
Dr Virginia Williams, chair of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee stated,
“To say that animals are sentient is to state explicitly that they can experience both positive and negative emotions, including pain and distress. The explicitness is what is new and marks another step along the animal welfare journey.”
This is a huge leap in the way animals are perceived and treated.
Donna Walzl, Nelson SPCA manager, said the changes were “wonderful” and that “it’s great to finally see it brought into legislation. It’s awesome.”
Walzl also said pets that came to the SPCA’s attention often exhibited human-like emotions.
“You can see that they do have separation anxiety and that’s showing emotion. It’s almost a human emotion,” she said, adding that, “Hopefully there will be some sterner penalties out there and that obviously creates a bigger deterrent for people to do those things.”
Of course there will be those that will argue what the term “sentient” really means and will split hairs about stepping on ants and killing flies and spiders…just to prove a point.
But let’s be happy because the amendment is clear enough to give animal welfare inspectors authority to issue compliance orders, among other things and also provides penalties for “moderate offenses” in a more effective and clear manner.
New Zealand has been making great strides in animal welfare and environmental issues, joining the fight against Japanese whaling to granting the rights of personhood to the Whanganui River…imagine a river has rights in New Zealand!
New Zealand Veterinary Association president Dr Steve Merchant said, “Expectations on animal welfare have been rapidly changing. The bill brings legislation in line with our nation’s changing attitude on the status of animals in society.”
Now…it’s time for the United States and the rest of the world to follow!
I hope you enjoyed this and share it so that it goes around the world!
Animals DO have a voice and need to be heard!
* By sharing something very special and personal to me, I hope you see things in a new light. I hope you were touched somehow, edified in some way. Blogging is a very powerful means to change the world…to get “your” story out there…to touch someone else’s life.
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