New Zealand has set an incredible precedent by legally ruling on what nature lovers already know to be true: that animals are sentient and have feelings in the same way that we do.
This marks an incredibly shift in public perception, where previously only some animals were given the benefit of protection.
The Animal Welfare Bill that passed last month will prosecute people in animal cruelty cases and ban animal research and testing. All hunting and capture of wild animals will be illegal.
“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,” said Dr. Steve Merchant, president of the New Zealand Veterinary Association. “The bill brings legislation in line with our nation’s changing attitude on the status of animals in society.”