Mexico’s Congress recently passed a ban on animals in circuses. China is working on a law that, for the first time, recognizes animal welfare. And recently India passed a ban on the import of animal-tested cosmetics. Animal welfare education, legislation, and policy is growing around the world.
And, for the first time, countries are being ranked on their commitment to animal welfare.
The Animal Protection Index, from World Animal Protection (WAP), ranks 50 countries “on their commitment to protect animals in their legislation, improve animal welfare and recognise animal sentience.”
Rankings are on a scale of A to G, with those countries receiving a G rating the ones identified as needing the most improvement. Each country is rated in five different categories: recognizing animal protection; governance structures and systems; animal welfare standards; providing humane education; promoting communication and awareness.
The only countries receiving the highest rating (A) were the U.K., Austria, Switzerland, and New Zealand. Most of the countries profiled received much lower rankings.
Each country profile includes a summary of how that country rates in each category, the details of that rating, and how the information was verified by WAP.
As World Animal Protection said:
“To create a truly sustainable world, we must take care of animals, people and the planet. Positive, lasting change for animals can only be achieved if animal welfare is at the heart of the policies, legislation and behaviours of the people responsible for the lives of animals.”
For those who care deeply about animals as individuals, the ratings criteria only provide the barest standards, such as,
“There are laws that apply to animals used in farming including rearing, transport and slaughter.”
(This criteria says nothing about what kind of laws, how well the laws are enforced, to which animals specifically such laws apply, whether or not animals should be farmed at all, etc.)
Still, having any kind of assessment is an important and positive step for animal protection. And having basic humane education as one of the criteria is vital.
To get more details on animal protection laws in the U.S., check out the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s annual ranking of U.S. states.
One of the unique strengths of comprehensive humane education is that it considers the needs and interests of animals as individuals and encourages us to question and reflect on how our choices can help nonhuman animals rather than harm them. Having tools such as the Animal Protection Index facilitates humane educators and changemakers in acquiring accurate information and in helping others think more deeply and compassionately about their relationships with animals and about the kind of world we all want.
h/t The Dodo.