New Austrian law tops global legislative achievements

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2004:

VIENNA–The Austrian parliament on May 27 unanimously passed
a new national humane law widely acclaimed as perhaps the most
sweeping and advanced in the world.
The Austrian law “forces farmers to uncage chickens, bars
pet owners from clipping their dogs’ ears or tails, outlaws the use
of lions and other wild animals in circuses, and makes it illegal to
restrain dogs with chains, choke collars, or devices that
administer mild electric shocks,” wrote William J. Kole of
Associated Press.
Added Kate Connolly of The Daily Telegraph, “It also
stipulates that it is illegal to place animals in the care of minors,
or to display pets in shop windows.”
Pre-sedation is required as a condition of performing kosher
or hallal slaughter.
Pushed for 20 years by Herbert Haupt, who is now minister
for social affairs, the new law was endorsed by all four major
Austrian political parties. It provides for fines of up to $18,000
for violations. It is to take effect in January 2005.
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel called the new law “a
pioneering example,” and pledged to seek similar legislation at the
European Union level. Schuessel is a Christian Democrat, a party
with parallel organizations in many other EU nations and strong
influence in the European Parliament.

A somewhat similar bill was introduced into the Israeli
parliament on May 23 by Shinui members Etti Livni, Roni Brison,
Reshef Cheyne, Yigal Yassinov, and Ilan Shalgi. The Israeli bill
“details care for dogs, cats, and livestock,” wrote Nina Gilbert
of the Jerusalem Post, who focused on portions about pigs–a species
not eaten by observant Jews and Muslims. Rated little chance of
passage, the Israeli bill seeks to strengthen a largely unenforced
law adopted in 1994.
Austrian animal rights campaigner Martin Balluch attributed
the extension of the new Austrian law to a battery cage ban, over
strong farm lobby opposition, to the media success of 50 “open
rescues” conducted between July 15 and August 1, 2003.
The Austrian open rescue teams “found that 79% of the battery
farms we visited were stocked illegally, with five or even six hens
per cage” which according to EU law should have held just four,
Balluch wrote. “All of the farms had ill and dying birds in the
cages, 47% had dead chickens in the cages, and 71% had very bad
hygienic condtions.”
Open rescue, a civil disobedience tactic used by Australian
animal advocate Patty Mark since 1993, consists of openly
trespassing on factory farm property in order to remove sick and
injured animals for veterinary care, and publicizing the incidents.
Balluch thanked Mark for inspiration and encouragement.
“If there is no damage done, only rescue of animals, and if
the TV footage shows ill and crippled little birds [or other animals] being lovingly held and given aid, then all the sympathy is with the
rescuers,” Mark explained in the April 2003 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE.

Arizona veto

The U.S. federal Animal Enterprise Protection Act, in effect
since 1992, potentially imposes harsh penalties for open rescue.
The American Legislative Exchange Council has for several years
promoted an “Animal & Ecological Terrorism Act” in state
legislatures throughout the U.S., which would reinforce the federal
law and attempt to prevent photography and videography of farms, in
the name of fighting terrorism and promoting bio security. The
introductory rhetoric makes clear, however, that the real target is
anyone who might expose bad conditions.
A version of the ALEC bill took effect in California on
January 1, 2004. The Arizona legislature passed a version in May
2004, but Governor Janet Napolitano vetoed it on May 12 as
“overbroad, unnecessary and susceptible to a host of unintended
negative consequences.”

Turkish TNR bill

At the opposite end of the former Ottoman empire from
Austria, the Turkish Parliament is reportedly close to adopting a
new national animal protection law which as drafted will replace the
traditional but ineffective control of street dog numbers by
poisoning with neuter/return.
Fethyea Friends of Animals founder Perihan Agnelli explained
in mid-May 2004 to the International Companion Animal Welfare
Conference in Warsaw, Poland, that the draft law has been approved
in principle by both the upper and lower commissions which recommend
legislation to the Turkish Parliament.
The draft law thereby has the formal support of the majority
Justice & Development Party, whose leaders regard it as a synthesis
of Islamic teachings and scientific principle.
Agnelli introduced neuter/return to southern Turkey in 2000,
after being asked by the mayor of Fethyea to supervise the annual
pre-tourist season removal of street dogs from the city.
Neuter/return had previously been tried in some suburbs of Istanbul,
with less success because of official noncooperation.

Progress in China

The Beijing Youth Daily on May 9 reported that the Beijing
municipal government was considering a bill stipulating that “no one
should harass, maltreat, or hurt others’ animals”; that animals
in transport should be protected from shock, pain, and filth; that
farm animals should be given adequate food, water, and living
space; that animals must be killed, regardless of purpose, “in a
way that can bring them the least pain”; that animals must not be
killed within sight or sound of each other; and that animal
experiments potentially resulting in injury or death must not be done
below the senior level of high school.
The draft bill also would have banned animal fights “arranged
for gambling, entertainment, or other commercial purposes.”
Only days earlier the Beijing Wildlife Park abandoned a much
publicized effort to promote bullfighting and rodeo. Officials were
shocked at the intensity of local opposition they encountered, even
as a concession offering visitors the chance to feed live chickens to
lions and tigers drew little notice.
“This shows that ordinary people’s voices can be heard in
China,” Beiing Humane & Animal Environmental Education Center
founder Zhang Luping told Los Angeles Times staff writer Mark Magnier.
In less than a week, however, the draft animal welfare bill
was withdrawn.
Ling Peili of the Beijing legal affairs office told Irene
Wang of the South China Morning Post that the draft bill was posted
to a public web site prematurely. Ling Peili indicated that humane
legislation would probably not get priority attention for at least
five years.
Added Wang, “Professor Qiao Xinsheng of the Zhongnan
University of Economics & Law in Wuhan said that China’s position as
a developing country made it unrealistic to adopt animal welfare
Agreed China Youth Daily commentator Xi Xuchu. “Most of the
people slaughtering domestic animals for meat in China now would
violate the regulation.”
Commented University of Houston political scientist and
animal advocate Peter Li, “Strong opposition came from wildlife
parks, wildlife farmers, and of course factory farmers,” with
local government support.
“If Beijing should pass such a law,” Li explained, “other
provinces and cities are likely to follow. A proposed national law
is likely to be on the national legislative agenda.
“If such a law should be adopted [before infrastructure and
public awareness exist to help enforce it], Chinese officials are
afraid that the west would pressure China to abide by its own laws to
improve animal treatment, thus giving the west an additional handle
to barbeque China. By postponing legislation, China can still claim
the status of being a developing country to ward off criticism and to
resist what it sees as western (mostly European Union) imposition of
animal welfare requirements for importing Chinese animal products.
“The Beijing legislative body is aware that enforcement of
the law if passed could be daunting,” Li continued. “Business-es or
individuals could openly ignore the new law,” since as yet they “do
not face the kind of societal pressure that businesses in the west
are facing” from organized animal welfare groups.
“If a law has a great likelihood of being violated on a big
scale,” Li said, “the government would choose to back down in order
not to lose credibility.
“Despite the fact that this proposed act was killed,” Li
concluded, “the fact that such a bill could even be drafted and draw
ideas from animal welfare rules in the advanced western countries is
a good sign. Yes, it is tabled for another five years,” Li
concluded. “Being tabled forever is unlikely.”
Movement toward animal welfare regulation in Beijing
continued to have momentum. On May 27, the official Xinhua News
Agency stated that “China intends to include articles on animal
welfare in the latest draft revision of regulations on laboratory
animals, which ban the abuse of animals and encourage ways to
minimize their pain. The revised regulations encourage use of
substitutes for animals in scientific research, to avoid unnecessary
unease, pain, and harm to animals.”
He Zhengming, deputy secretary general of the Chinese
Society for Laboratory Animals, called the draft bill a step in the
right direction, but “admitted that it is premature for China to
formulate a [general] law devoted to animal welfare,” the Xinhua
News Agency said. Nonetheless, the draft laboratory regulations are
under review by the Ministry of Sciences & Technology, apparently in
the belief that scientists, as some of the best-educated Chinese,
may be among those most likely to help set an example to the nation.
The Xinhua News Agency on June 15 announced that “Beijing is
considering inserting animal welfare into revised regulations on
animal epidemic prevention. The revisions include sections
prohibiting abuse or abandonment of animals.”
According to Kong Fanrong, identified as “a department
director at the Legal Affairs Office of the Beijing municipal
government,” who is “in charge of drafting the regulations,”
pro-animal content will be added to the rules governing the treatment
of animals in transport, at marketplaces, and at slaughter.
“Mang Ping, an animal welfare legislation expert, said it
would be practical to insert animal welfare into relevant regulations
before a special law comes out,” the Xinhua News Agency reported.
On June 7 the China Daily reported that revisions of the 1989
national wildlife legislation are also in progress. Beyond
strengthening prohibitions of poaching and wildlife trafficking, the
revisions are to consolidate regulation of wildlife in captivity,
increasing the ability of government to supervise the care of animals
in zoos and circuses.

Japan vs. aliens

Japan on May 27 adopted an Invasive Alien Species Act,
banning the import of animals and plants who might compete with
native species. The law is to take effect within a year after the
Japanese environment ministry completes a list of species to be
prohibited. The law simultaneously introduces overdue regulation of
the booming Japanese exotic pet trade, and may create a “hit list”
of feral wildlife to be extirpated.

British fox hunting

Andy McSmith, political editor of The Independent,
predicted on May 23 that “In July, the [British] House of Commons
will again be presented with a bill to ban hunting with dogs, with
just a few hours’ debate. It will then go to the House of Lords,
which has consistently overturned the ban,” already repeatedly
approved in the Commons.
“This time,” McSmith wrote, “the anti-hunt lobby insists
that the Commons will invoke the Parliament Act to force the measure
through, making hunting illegal before the 2006 season begins.
This, McSmith said, “will trigger an extraordinary court
battle. Several leading lawyers have long believed that the 1949
version of the Parliament Act is invalid,” McSmith explained,
“because it tightened up the earlier 1911 Act. Lawyers have argued
that there is no provision in the 1911 Act that allows it to be
amended. If they could prove their case, they would not only save
fox hunting, but also overturn other measures forced through using
the Act, including one that lowered the age of consent for gays,
and another allowing direct elections to the European Parliament.”
The Countryside Alliance, leading the defense of fox
hunting, claimed that 55,000 Britons would practice civil
disobedience with a fox hunting ban is finally enacted, decades
after public opinion polls first showed that the majority of British
voters favor a ban.
About 40,000 of the 80,000 members of the Royal SPCA voted in
a June election to fill five open seats on the RSPCA governing
council, choosing from among six candidates. Results are to be
announced on June 26. Several of the candidates are reportedly
likely to join a faction already within the governing council which
would like to surrender the “Royal” title conferred by Queen Victoria
in 1840, in order to be rid of Queen Elizabeth II as patron, in
protest of her endorsement of fox hunting and captive-reared bird

Canada stalls again

Efforts to update the Canadian national humane law, dating
to 1892, stalled in May 2004 for the fourth time since 1999 when
Prime Minister Paul Martin ended the 2004 legislative session early
by calling for a federal election. The proposed new Canadian humane
law, previously blocked by the national Senate, is expected to be
reintroduced when the next Parliament convenes.

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