Biggest Advance in Companion Animal Welfare?

China desperately needs animal welfare laws.

China desperately needs animal welfare laws.

The biggest advance in the recent history of companion animal welfare and the welfare of other animals could take place in the not too distant future. China has no laws prohibiting animal cruelty. Although there is a “Wildlife Law” that appears to be designed to protect the commercialization of wildlife and there is some protection for laboratory animals.

Examples of animal cruelty in China (see also cat meat):

  • In December 2005, Zhang Liangliang, a 3rd year postgraduate student in mathematics at Fudan University adopted and then tortured over 30 cats and kittens. He was not prosecuted because there were and are no laws under which he could be charged. Even if he could have been charged he probably would not have been convicted because of entrenched attitudes, even amongst judges.
  • In 2006 a woman, a nurse, named Wang Jue, killed a kitten by stomping on the kitten with her high heeled shoes. She had an accomplice who made a video of it – a crush video. She was not prosecuted.
  • In response to a rabies scare, in 2009, 37,000 dogs where clubbed to death in Shan Xi province alone by local public security bureau officers. Many were pets with a rabies vaccination out for a walk. Horrendous. Legalized animal cruelty on a grand and barbaric scale if you ask me. This would be illegal under the proposes law.

However, China has now prepared laws that protect companion animals and other animals. It is the first law of its kind in China and long overdue. The draft was written by Professor Chang Jiwen. In contrast, Beijing Professor Zhao Nanyuan, says that pro-animal legislation is “anti-human”!

Sentient Beings?

Professor Nanyuan says that animals are not sentient and the change has been forced on China by Western countries, which he says produce “foreign trash” (presumed to mean trashy ideas and attitudes). You can see that animal welfare polarizes people. You can also get a glimmer of the old (and remaining) attitude of mainstream China in Professor Nanyuan’s thoughts. Is China ready for change?

I think China is ready to change but not immediately. This desire to change is not because the government, necessarily, wants to improve animal welfare. It is because there is a desire to become acceptable international trading partners. China wants to fit in.

The laws are written up but not yet in force. The big step is getting them into law and then to enforce the law effectively. However, to actually draft the law is a major step forward.

Number of pets in China – why this could be the biggest advance in animal welfare

The reason why this is such good news and big news, in the important sphere of animal welfare, is because, at an estimate, there are over 53 million domestic cats in China and probably an equal number of feral cats, inline with America. I’ll be honest in that the figure of 53 million is probably an underestimation.

These cats are currently unprotected. Overnight, a change in the law would protect 53 million companion cats. That is why I have called this article the “Biggest Advance in Companion Animal Welfare”. The title is obviously based on world events, which is the way it should be.

In fact, the proposed creation of genuine animal protection laws benefits almost 300 million pets in China. There were an estimated 271 million pets in 2002. I have projected to 2013.

The proposal to introduce a Prevention of Cruelty to Animals law in the People’s Republic of China is an important advance in world animal protection legislation.

Some detail

Here is some more detail. Although I won’t go into too much detail because:

  1. it is a specialist subject and laborious to read through and
  2. the draft may not become law.

The first reality check is that the draft legislation does not establish a duty of care towards animals as is the case in Europe, UK, USA and Australia, for example. It is solely concerned with preventing “overt” animal cruelty. “Overt” means outstanding or severe. So, the proposed laws are pretty crude but a starting point. Animal welfare laws should create a general duty of care because it sets the tone and tenor of our relationship with animals; a vital ingredient to animal welfare.

We are told the change came about due to “public pressure”. Chinese polls indicate that 80% of Chinese people in China support animal welfare legislation. So, the Chinese people want change. Great. Some of them have read my articles! There are many articles highlighting the need for change in animal welfare in China.

There are many stray cats and dogs especially in Beijing. The draft law would make the abandonment of companion animals an offence and makes provision for the setting up of animal shelters. This is a big step.

I won’t go on. If you would like to read more, this is a nice document. It is long, though, and a slow read.

I am pleased that China is, oh so slowly, changing its culture. The current or old culture, I am not sure which, says that animals are not sentient beings and that they can be killed, hurt and eaten in any way the human desires.

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Comments

Biggest Advance in Companion Animal Welfare? — 4 Comments

  1. The idea that animals are not sentient beings is perfectly ridiculous and flies in the face of easily provable physiological and psychological responses. Any living creature is equipped with a wide range of senses which are essential for survival. The sense of pain and touch hardly need mentioning because the basic need to avoid injury is obvious, but feeling fear is important in order to avoid life-threatening situations. Being sentient is essential for survival and nature has ensured over millions of years of natural selection that these traits are encoded in the DNA of all creatures. In portraying these hard facts as “foreign trash” Professor Nanyuan seems to be suggesting that he too as well as all animals are non-sentient beings and thus exempt from Darwin’s theory of The Origin of the Species. This “foreign trash” sounds very much like the ranting of Chairman Mao, and similarly only to excuse barbarities and cruelty.

  2. Yes this is good news and I’m thinking that just like other countries there must be people in China who love animals and hate their country’s abuse of them.
    Professor Chang Jiwen is obviously a compassionate and caring man while Professor Zhao Nanyuan is a very cruel and ignorant man, how on earth can anyone say animals are not sentient beings?
    A step in the right direction, but not far enough as it will take a long time until China catches up with our UK pet welfare and meanwhile animals go on suffering there.

    • I agree – a man who says animals can’t feel pain should be burn’t with a flame until he screams – and reminded he is an animal. F*****g idiot. The world will be better without a man who thinks like that. I imagine there are many.

      • LOL. He is a professor, which is disturbing and what he thinks is a reflection on the core problem in China. A lot of Chinese people do think that animals are vegetables. It goes further than China. Vietnam comes to mind. The attitudes will be a big barrier to change and making new law work. That said new law can change attitudes.

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