Dire situations of small animals cry out for laws

Updated: 2013-08-27 07:57

By Zhang Lei (China Daily)

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Dire situations of small animals cry out for laws

A proud owner displays her Chinese Li Hua at a cat show in Beijing. Provided to China Daily

A lack of consensus

Wang believes that legislation to prevent the torture of animals is much more urgently needed than an animal welfare law. In international terms, Chinese law lags behind countries such as the UK, which enacted laws preventing the abuse of animals in 1849.

An Xiang, an animal protection activist and public interest lawyer in Beijing, said, "The reason that this law has not yet been established is that there is no real national consensus on the matter. Many people are ambiguous about the issue."

Despite the dilemma, hope is not just coming from the grass roots level. As the animal welfare movement infiltrates every level of society and feelings grow stronger, with every act of animal abuse attracting criticism at the national level through both old and new media, the government has started to take a number of cautious steps.

The template for an animal protection and anti-abuse law was drafted in 2009 by Chang Jiwen, director of the social law research department at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Although it has yet to be adopted, the draft prompted many delegates to discuss the issue at the National People's Congress.

In January 2011, the central government issued a ban on animal circuses and certain types of abuse, such as the use of violence to make animals perform tricks, at zoos. The Ministry of Agriculture has twice issued stringent rules on the quarantine procedures for dogs and cats.

According to the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association, the country will publish its first general rule on animal welfare later this year. Although not mandatory, most of the clauses will focus on the prevention of unnecessary suffering inflicted on small animals.

In May 2012, China's first regulation on dogs with a bearing on animal welfare at the county level was passed in Yangxian county, Shaanxi province.

"All these acts show that at the central governmental level, the process designed to formulate animal protection rules is speeding up. A consensus on animal welfare has been established among government leaders and this will prompt a greater number of demands for legislation relating to small animals," said Li Hua, president of Animal Guardians, a non-governmental animal rights group in Hong Kong. Li is convinced that a substantial number of government officials are in favor of introducing tough legislation.

"We believe reasonable and legal animal protection activities will accelerate the legislative progress. The relevant ministries and commissions have already taken steps. Although it may not look as though legislation is forthcoming, relevant research work has already been carried out," said Li.

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