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UPDATED: October 23, 2009 NO. 42 OCTOBER 22, 2009
Does China Need an Animal Protection Law?

Beijing once drafted China's first local regulation on animal welfare protection, but local residents opposed it. Why? Because it was totally out of sync with China's national conditions.

We can learn from Western legislation on animal protection, but we should not slavishly copy them. It's important to take into full consideration China's cultural traditions, dietary habits and realistic animal breeding conditions. Otherwise, such laws will be resisted by society. At that point, not only will animal welfare still be unprotected, but judicial dignity will also be damaged.

Good for society

Deng Huilin (www.cnhubei.com): Some people argue that if the proposed animal protection act was passed, many people would become criminals overnight. Is it that many Chinese are committing crimes against animals? This law centers on the prevention of animal abuse and desertion.

Opponents like to connect animal welfare with the level of economic development, but there is nothing in the proposed law that demands money from the poor to support animals. Neither does the law ask the government to spend money on animals that was originally intended for people. Indeed, when animals' owners are asked to take more responsibility, it will actually save the government money.

Drafters believe if the animal protection act is ratified, China will cease to be a net importer of animal products. China is a big animal producer, so why is it a net importer of animal products? There are two major reasons. First is the low quality of Chinese products. The second reason is that Chinese animal products are not in most Western countries because its animal protection does not live up to these countries' trade standards. That is, cruel treatment of animals will bring us fewer profits than if we treat animals kindly. Moreover, the cost of treating animals well is far less than some have estimated.

The proposed animal protection act demands that animal owners or breeders take responsibility for their animals. People may choose not to raise pets if they don't want to be responsible for their welfare. Isn't that the basic moral standard? If someone is unable to keep a pet in good and safe conditions, why does he or she have to have a pet?

Luo Xi (Shanghai Law News): Due to the lack of relevant legal regulations, recent years have seen many cases of animal abuse, from which the torturers escaped without legal punishment. One thing is certain: What these torturers are doing breaks the moral bottom line and is unbearable to the majority of the public.

According to international criteria, animals are divided into six categories: farm, laboratory, companion, work, exhibition and wild animals. China only has the Law on the Protection of Wildlife. The five other categories of animals are not under legal protection. Moreover, the Law on the Protection of Wildlife only covers a small scope and is short of practical clauses. Thus, it is relatively ineffective in helping even wildlife.

Actually, animal protection is not only a matter of human morality, but it also matters for human beings' sustainable development. It is important to care for the natural environment shared by both human beings and animals. It is unacceptable to cruelly treat animals that share our sentimental feelings in this civilized world. How shortsighted it is to totally center on our own welfare. Animal protection laws are a symbol of social progress. They reflect mankind's more progressive and deeper understanding of nature.

Zhou Huan (www.jx.xinhuanet.com): Although China has promulgated a series of laws and legal regulations to protect animals, such as the Law on the Protection of Wildlife, the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law, the Animal Husbandry Law and Regulations for the Administration of Affairs Concerning Experimental Animals, undoubtedly, the country lacks a comprehensive law that will effectively protect animals. Thus, animal welfare in China is much worse than it is in the Western world. As a result, we see frequent cases of animal abuse. This tells us that keeping animals safe requires not only high morality but also rigid protection laws.

When respect for life becomes a common moral standard in modern society and a legal principle in the civilized world, the relationship between mankind and nature will surely become closer and more harmonious. Therefore, to care for animals and protect animals, and to respect life in all forms, we need to start with a comprehensive animal protection law.

Wang Xiaomin (www.jfdaily.com): Research shows that those who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit crimes than those who have never abused animals. The former also have a stronger tendency to abuse children, the elderly and partners. At the same time, the better their living conditions are, the emptier these people feel and the more likely they are to abuse animals for their own amusement. When animal abuse has become fun for them and even the means to enliven their empty lives, it won't take long for them to become interested in abusing their human counterparts. The many cases of cruel and abusive homicide seen in recent years fully reflect this. It is terrible to envision a society in which animals are casually abused. Therefore, even if it's for our own safety, it is time to make animal abuse illegal.

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