In May last year, the New Zealand Parliament unanimously passed the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill (principle act being, Animal Welfare Act 1999), which legally recognised animals as sentient beings. The Bill had included a penalty scheme and banned in animal cruelty cases, animal research and testing, and made all hunting and capture of wild animals as illegal.
This was an unprecedented legal ruling that will mark a huge paradigm shift in our assumptions and expectations on animal welfare.
“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.
For centuries, we have taken for granted that animals exist for the primary purpose as our food, but we’ve also forgotten the fact that, we, humans, are also part of the food chain.
While this law may have been passed, it will be some time before history is changed. And slowly but surely when the time comes, it will be a more welcoming one.
The important takeaway message behind this ruling is that animals can no longer be legally or morally regarded as property; they are persons, like you and me.
And you and I shall not become complacent with the current situations, until all animals are free.