“There is little that separates us from sentient beings-we all feel pain, we all feel joy, we all deeply crave to be alive and live freely and we all share this planet together” - Gandhi
Field biologists such as Poole and Goodall, spent decades studying the behaviour of animals in their natural habitats and do not doubt that elephants, chimpanzees and other creatures feel intense human like emotions-including happiness, sadness and anger.
Our government stated publicly that animals are not merely commodities; they are sentient beings-in other words-able to perceive or feel things and can therefore suffer.
According to Wikipedia, Animal Welfare is-the physical and psychological well-being of animals.
Today animal welfare is a significant focus of interest or activity in veterinary science, in ethics and in animal welfare organisations.
The Protection of Animals Act was passed in 1911 and has since been updated several times.
The Animal Welfare Act of 2006 came into force in April 2007. It includes general laws relating to animal welfare. Under this act it is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal including all animals on common land.
The Welfare of farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007.The “farmed“ animal in this regulation refers to animals bred or kept for the production of food, wool, or skin or other farming purposes. The regulations state that farmed animals must be cared for by staff with the correct knowledge, skills and ability. The well-being of the animals must be checked on at least once a day. If their welfare is not dependant on daily checks; they must still be checked with appropriate regularity to avoid any suffering.
There are a number of alternatives to testing on animals. Some of the newer technologies entail improve scans such as magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI). This enables researchers to actually investigate disease through human scans rather than performing animal testing.
The RSPCA aims to replace animal experiments with humane alternatives. Until that aim is achieved they work to help ensure that the minimum number of animals are used and that the animals experience the minimum suffering.
Various organisations lobby on behalf of animal welfare.
Compassion in World farming (CIWF) was founded in 1967 by Peter Roberts, a dairy farmer who could see first hand how the demand for supposed cheap food was having a devastating effect on farm animals and human health.
Factory farming developed after World War 2 to maximise the production of meat, milk and eggs. Animals were bred in their thousands for fast growth and high yield with little thought for their well-being.
Animals kept in this way such as battery hens, sows in stalls and calves tied up for the production of veal suffered physical and psychological harm due to cramped conditions and isolation. In the 1990’s, CIWF lobbied successfully to ban calves crates and sow stalls.
The Farm Animals Welfare Act was founded in 2003 and supports research and education encouraging better welfare of farm animals. Their aims include working towards projects such as- removing the need for painful mutilations, use of cage, crate and other close confinements, preventing overcrowding and excessive stocking densities, reducing live animal transportation and the cessation of breeding of animals with inherent welfare problems.
Humane Slaughter in 1911 were a group of people concerned about methods used to slaughter animals for food and the ways in which cats and dogs were destroyed. In 1028 they merged with the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA).
As a result of thousands of petitions and evidence from their survey, the Slaughter of Animals Act 1933 was introduced.This stated that a humane stunner must be used on cattle, calves and pigs in bacon factories. HSA helped with the development of the first handheld, low voltage electric stunner for poultry. TheSlaughter of Poultry Act 1967 was later introduced.
As pet owners we must ensure that the animal in our care has somewhere to live, plenty of water, a good diet and is protected from and treated for any illness or injury. Pets should also be allowed to demonstrate normal behaviour patterns and be housed either with or away from other animals-whichever is appropriate for them.
There are numerous animal sanctuaries and rescue centres across the UK, most of whom either operate a rehoming or non destruction policy. Some take in a range of animals whilst others specialise.
Animals are taken in by sanctuaries and rescue centres for different reasons including-
- Their owner has gone into hospital/ a nursing home or passed away.
- Small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs etc who bought as pets then brought in simply because they are no longer wanted.
- Some animals have been abandoned, even left at the entrance or no longer wanted due to behavioural or health conditions or perhaps simply due to old age.
- Stray cats or dogs are brought in who may be pregnant and produce litters which are then put up for adoption.
- Some animals have been rescued from situations of great suffering, neglect and cruelty. For many animals this is their last chance.
Aware that animals are without the power to help themselves, there are many unsung heroes working away in the background whose main aim is to improve the physical and psychological well-being of our fellow animal creatures.