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What we must do

By Fusako Nogami (ALIVE)

29 March, 2000

Since the revised animal welfare law will come into force in December 2000, there are four main things that we have to do immediately.

We have to ensure that the standards that will be created or rewritten in accordance with the new law will be more effective than the old ones.

Since dangerous animals cause a variety of societal problems, the work on new standards for animal traders is expected to start very soon. Among the standards related to the raising and keeping of animals there are the four standards concerning dogs and cats (1973), exhibition animals (1974), laboratory animals (1976) and production animals (1985), and in 1995 a standard based on the law concerning the disposal of animals was established. All these standards concentrate on the control of animals and appear rather dated. A revision is therefore desirable.

The government has been inviting citizens to express their opinion via its webpage on a number of issues. The text of the new standards is also likely to be published there, and positive suggestions from citizens involved in the animal welfare movement is essential.

We have to ensure that the regulations on prefectural level will be more complete.

Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture are currently working on new regulations for the protection and control of animals, and there are some local authorities that are thinking of emulating the Hokkaido regulations. Since tackling everyday animal problems are the responsibility of the local government, we have to approach local politicians and functionaries with our requests. Local lobbying will therefore be an important part of our future activities.

We have to ensure that the local authorities apply the new law.

Even when the new law comes into force we cannot expect animal abuse to disappear over night. In the absence of any proper definition, both the local authorities and the police will often be at a loss over whether some act constitutes cruelty or not. ALIVE will extend its publicity campaign for the treatment of animals consistent with their natural behaviour and physiology, collect evidence of cases of animal abuse, and try to foster a sense of understanding in police and the courts.

We have to ensure that the omitted items are included in the revision after five years.

We regret that the laboratory and production animals, which are sacrified in overwhelming numbers for our human society, have been left without any protection at all in the current revision. Animals are maimed, poisoned, and subjected to stress in experiments of all sorts behind closed doors. Experiments are therefore an area which most requires scrutiny and where animals most require protection. Current thinking that accepts any animal sacrifice in the name of science, and the lack of concern for these animals, is one of the leading factors that ruin the moral foundations not only of medicine but all of human society. Only by introducing regulations as they currently exist in Europe and North America can we pass as an international society. Let us campaign forcefully for a revision in five years.

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