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New Zealand just took a huge a step forward for animal welfare by legally recognizing them as "sentient" beings.New Zealand just took a huge a step forward for animal welfare by legally recognizing them as "sentient" beings.

New Zealand Officially Recognizes Animals As 'Sentient Beings'

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New Zealand just took a huge a step forward for animal welfare by legally recognizing them as “sentient” beings.

The amendment to New Zealand law on behalf of the The Animal Welfare Amendment was passed on Tuesday. The new bill states that animals, like humans, are “sentient” beings — meaning they are able to perceive and feel things.

“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.”

The bill also includes banning cosmetic testing on animals, which was recently put into law last month.

It also provides for a penalty scheme to enable moderate offending to be handled more effectively, and gives animal welfare inspectors the power to issue compliance notices, among other capacities.

Nelson SPCA manager Donna Walzl said the changes were “wonderful” and that “it’s great to finally see it brought into legislation. It’s awesome.” She added that, “Hopefully there will be some sterner penalties out there and that obviously creates a bigger deterrent for people to do those things.”

The new bill is one of many positive strides that New Zealand has made recently when it comes to animal welfare and environmental issues. Last fall, they joined the fight against whaling in Japan, and in 2012, they granted personhood to Whanganui River.

“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,” said New Zealand Veterinary Association president Dr Steve Merchant.

It looks like it’s time that the U.S. follows its example.

Via AnimalEquality.net


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  • Whitebeard

    This is great news. I hope my country follows suit. I wonder though how this will effect the NZ dairy industry considering the horrendous unending grief and pain inflicted on these beautiful animals so we can take their milk. I guess the industry will hope no one makes the connection, or perhaps they will hope that we all keep believing the bull that dairy is necessary, or even a healthy option.

    • fearnot

      Bull is right..you are one of the who think you know what is best for everyone.. guess what.. you don;t

      • Rachel Leigh

        what do you feel is best for the animals?

    • TheLight

      People > animals

      • MaryFinelli

        People ARE animals. That is a basic biological fact.

      • Mark Caponigro

        That’s just about the most absurd and simplistic assertion I have ever seen, anywhere.

      • Whitebeard

        People R animals

      • Whitebeard

        I think the light needs to shed more light on the proof for this amazing yet simple formula. Sounds a bit like the assertion that white man > everyone which was a convenient way of justifying slavery.

    • kiwikid

      Whitebeard, I grew up on a dairy farm in New Zealand and have seen first hand that there is a huge amount of care taken by farmers to ensure the cows are kept as calm and stress-free as possible. Grain isn’t typically fed in NZ, the cows feed on lush grass with hay supplemented in the winter, which means we produce top quality milk – but not at the expense of the welfare of the cow. It is a very different story in NZ compared to what we hear of the US dairy industry. I don’t drink milk for health reasons but if I did, I would choose NZ milk over that produced anywhere else in the world.

      • Whitebeard

        I know from experience that care is taken in order to keep the animal s alive and producing milk, I don’t even doubt that similar applied to some so called ethical slave owners. It is still fundamentally wrong and there is no denying the huge amount of grief, brutality and violence at every step of the process. I am not the only one who sees this as fundamentally immoral even after working on the farms and once believing the cows were treated acceptably. There are no more excuses for this. We have to rise above this or violence and exploitation of others remains part of our society. I worked on a farm and accepted the idea that the animals were happy. I gave it some serious thought and now am a little ashamed I was unable to see what is now obviously blatant exploitation and cruelty. It is amazing what our minds will allow us to believe when living amongst a culture of violence.

        • laurelladesborough

          While you may see cruelty and violence in some areas, I cannot speak to that. However, in the case of the cattle sent to Indonesia for slaughter, the Aussie officials who interviewed the slaughter house workers were told that they were paid to do x,y and z to the cattle by the AR folks. And, in the US we have had cases where the animal rights radicals have performed or paid others to perform unnecessary acts of cruelty so they could be filmed and used as evidence. While not all videos are faked, there are faked cruelty videos and that is a fact. I was even told by two videographers that fishermen on the Amazon were paid to kill river dolphins so that an animal rights group could video the event and then collect donations based on “saving the Amazon river dolphins.” This was all the way back to 1992 so this is not news. If what we see in the news is actual facts, that is one thing, but there are too many individuals who are faking stuff for their agendas.

          • Whitebeard

            Anything is possible but to me it sounds very much like very convenient propaganda. Who might have the money to perpetuate such propaganda? Under resourced animal rights campaigners or the multi billion dollar industries that profit from us continuing to believe that their industries practices are acceptable?. Who knows who was paid to say what. Really though this is just excuses to ignore the obvious cruelty inherent and unavoidable in mass production of death and exploitation. Personally every animal rights campaigner I have met (and that is very many), genuinely respect animals and would never even think of asking someone to be cruel to an animal. It makes about as much sense as saving your indoor plants from a fire because you are concerned about their suffering. It might make for useful diversion but that is all it is.

      • Carole

        That i am sure is true in the small dairy farm but in commercial dairy farming with hundreds of cows this is not true

    • RhovanionGirl

      You do realize that those horrible conditions aren’t the norm right? Even if the farmers didn’t give a crap about the animals (which most do!) they would still work to ensure they were happy and healthy because then those cows would produce more milk which = more money.

      • Whitebeard

        My brother was a dairy farmer. I worked on his farm for years. He is a pretty decent person but he still believed it was acceptable to impregnate a sentient being (a mammal like us) every year, remove its calf shortly after its birth and then take her milk, do this for about six years after which she is sent to the place they all go, a modern slaughter house (please dont tell me they are anything short of hell on earth as I have seen it for myself). I have also heard the cries of grief from the cows as they search for their stolen calf. When I was younger and more easily led, I believed these animals did not experience real grief, but now I realize this was just a forlorn hope of those doing the exploitation. The fact is they do suffer in the same way as humans. At least I expect any mother to know how brutal and cruel this process is. No matter how you look at it and how kind the farmer thinks he is , anyone who gives it serious thought would agree, this is cruelty and exploitation of the worst type. I used to be fooled by the idea that animals must be happy or the farmer risks losing profits. After lengthy investigation of real farms, I know this is a callous lie perpetuated by the industries. Please have a think about this.

        • RhovanionGirl

          I don’t need to “have a think about this” I’ve been on a ton of farms. Frankly I’d rather change the condition of Canadian beef farms before dairy ones. I’m not saying it’s a perfect system, or even a good one. But it’s not going away for I applaud the farmers who do their damnest to make the conditions as good for the animal as possible. And I’ve seen a HUGE number of dairy cows that are left with their calves and don’t care for it (humans fault, we’ve basically bred a cow that doesn’t know how to care for their offspring because we remove the calves….but I’d rather separate the two then see calf stepped on or not fed)

  • laurelladesborough

    Well, I wonder if this legislation is going to enable the animal rights radicals to move on animal owners, take their animals, “for their own good,” and then “euthanize them” because they are suffering as pets! Sounds like a plan! The radicals won’t be satisfied until humans have no more contact with animals. When that happens, the animals will be “encouraged” to disappear from the planet. Of course, that is likely the goal. Are these radicals really alien spawn from another world??? One has to wonder about that.

    • TheLight

      The plan is to stop people from eating meat and using animal products. There will be rebellion in the streets on the day that consumers go to the grocery store and there is no meat to buy because it has been made illegal.

      • Whitebeard

        I dont think so. We came to terms with women getting the vote, the repudiation of domestic violence and the abolition of slavery. All seemed harsh at the time but most now see it as part of living in a civilized society.

    • Katty

      sorry what did you say? I was out persuading animals to leave the Earth! Are you a comedian? this is pure comedy gold! ha ha ha ha ha what a joke! AAAAAAAAAAAA OMG a monkey just tried to make contact with me, so I killed it, as I am vegan …and thats just what we like to do..thats OUR agenda- you found us out you sneaky sneaky clever…. ps did you pay that monkey?????

  • laurelladesborough

    I hope more people in NZ wake up to the astonishing silliness of the animal rights radicals…and their ultimate goal of NO animal uses!!

    • Robert Kent

      Lol…..There is a big difference between animal consumption and mass animal cruelty to feed the likes of KFC and Maccas….Eat meat but do not support cruelty is all that is asked of you. Is that so hard?
      Please educate yourself 🙂

      • Clare Newbury

        Well said!

      • laurelladesborough

        Robert Kent. I grew up on a farm. I know what it means to care about animals and provide what they need for good health,etc. But, IMO and IME there are far too many animal rights types out there talking about animals when they know very little about appropriate animal husbandry, which varies according to the species and to the region in which the animal lives. As for the animal rights agenda, I have been observing them since 1984 and what I see is not good. Lies, misrepresentations, faked videos, (including the faked videos of cattle slaughter in Indonesia which were made when the animal rights folks PAID the slaughter house guys to abuse the animals!) So, IMO it is going to take individuals who are not of the animal rights persuasion to point out the facts re animal husbandry and animal welfare.

        • Katty

          This sounds very scientific- did you observe a random sample of “animal rights people”- I hope you managed for observer bias as well- as got a feeling it may be an issue; but as you “grew up on A farm” we should all definatley agree with you. Paid to abuse the animals!!! do you know how paranoid this sounds- most bizarre

        • Whitebeard

          laurelladesborough I am a strong animal rights campaigner and have worked extensively in dairy farms, beef farms, and turkey farms. I have also visitied abattoirs and watched transportation of the animals. Have also watched the videos and movies. It all stacks up and there is no need to pay anyone to do cruel acts. It naturally happens when humans are put in power over he lives of others. This has been shown in studies. If there was not rampant cruelty in these situations it would be unbelievable. I think what it comes down to is that some people are so accustomed to violence they think that animals are simply property to be exploited as we wish regardless of the inevitable consequences.

  • Robert Kent

    Kiwis kick arse 🙂
    Well done you Legends

  • E pluribus unum

    Plants are sentient beings too…

    • MaryFinelli

      There is no credible scientific evidence of that. If you are concerned about them, however, it’s all the more reason to be vegan since far more plants are killed to supply a diet inclusive of animal products than are killed for a vegan one.

      • E pluribus unum

        Sure, your last point is correct, but don’t be so defensive expressing it.
        Plants have been studied, and even if there’s a great deal about them we do not understand we do know that when a tree is in distress, other plants will join roots and exchange minerals to keep the tree alive and well.

        That’s better than welfare since I don’t think the other plants complain this one tree is a little slower 😉

        Now my point wasn’t meant to be an attack to vegans or justify in any way slaughtering.. but I do like to eat meat so I won’t be jumping around the subject.

        When done like real farms used to do, free range animals with a decent life, it’s ok to me… and not amassing 10 thousand chicken with cut heels in individual cages… or pigs that can’t sit down… or any other animal for that matters…

        • Whitebeard

          I would only request that you stop using excuses that are clearly absurd. Most vegans were once meat eaters that have simply discovered how barbaric it is, and that it is unnecessary. You clearly realize that the argument about plants feeling pain has no rational basis but you decided to use it anyway as a hopeful way to justify your desire to keep eating meat. Nothing is ever achieved by lying to yourself. Unfortunately for you, there are no excuses for eating meat, other than to simply admit the enjoyment you get from eating it is more important to you than the life and suffering of the exploited animals. Once you come to terms with that you can start a journey and engage in intelligent thought on the topic. One day you may discover that you care about such exploitation and cruelty and want to take some meaningful action. In the mean time simply admit you are not yet able to extend your compassion to animals.

      • E pluribus unum

        I suppose you define “credible” what you also define “doesn’t go against what I currently believe”…

        That’s ok, there’s plenty of idiots like you

  • Ricky P. Taylor

    I should think the same law would be applicable to human fetuses.

  • FMBC

    Much love to you New Zealanders!!! This is wonderful news.

  • starbust

    This is great news. And at the same time, I am seeing a Foster Farms AD smack dab in this article. wtf? =?

  • Suzana Megles

    This is wonderful. I hope New Zealand doesn’t have cafos where the farm animals are packed in cages, crates, and factory barns. All suffer terribly as a result. All living beings need fresh air, sun, movement and interaction with their own. Someone mentioned that their cows are treated compassionately. Well, ours in the US are not. They are just milking machines – day in day out. Their calves are removed shortly after birth – no maternal bonding whatsoever. That’s why I’m a vegan. I hope New Zealand provides fresh air, sun, pasture for their cows. If not, then they are suffering just like ours.

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