In another foray into the crazy world of mixing up animal welfare and animal rights, the New Zealand legislature passed a law recognizing all animals as sentient beings.
The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, passed last month, aims to make it easier to prosecute people in animal cruelty cases, as well as banning animal testing and research, said an article in True Activist, an animal rights news site.
Animal rights activists have celebrated the decision.
“To say that animals are sentient is to state explicitly that they can experience both positive and negative emotions, including pain and distress,” said Dr Virginia Williams, chair of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee. “The explicitness is what is new and marks another step along the animal welfare journey.”
“Expectations on animal welfare have been rapidly changing, and practices that were once commonplace for pets and farm stock are no longer acceptable or tolerated,” he said. “The bill brings legislation in line with our nation’s changing attitude on the status of animals in society,” New Zealand Veterinary Association president Dr Steve Merchant told the True Activist.
This latest move begs the question, is there a line to be drawn? Does the law apply to, say worms – as PETA would have? How about bed bugs?
On a more serious matter, what will this legislation do regarding hunting? The jury is still out on that one.