Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My "Animal Welfare" column

Animal care, well-being, and welfare is a much debated topic around the world.  There are as many takes on the subject as there are people, and it seems that we can't all agree on what type and level of care the world's animals should have, if any.  It is because we can't agree that there is no universal standard, agreement or laws on how to best care for our fur covered, four-legged, winged, and finned brethren.  It seems to be a difficult subject for us human beings; a subject that has left many exhausted, frustrated, and feeling rather helpless.  How do we, as a society, decide on what's best?  Is there a Universal answer?

In the United States we have the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that is enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture.  The Act was created in 1966 and has since been amended several times.  Although the Act was a major turn for the good in animal welfare, it is still wrought with issues that the Act does not cover.  For example, the Act covers some warm-blooded animals, but excludes the cold-blooded ones, and it doesn’t cover animals that are to be used as food or for clothing to name a few.  

With so many exclusions and loopholes, there are still many animals in human possession but not being cared for properly.  I have seen countless videos where the living quarters are cramped, the animals are starved, the animal’s various body parts are purposely and painfully altered for the benefit of the possessor.  I have also seen countless animals being hoarded, neglected and/or abused in people’s homes (another exclusion in the AWA.)  

I believe that our differences in opinion of how animals fit into our society stem from our early socialization experiences.  For example, if a person was brought up on a farm and taught that the farm animals were there to feed the family, then we grow up learning that animals are there to serve humans.  Although this example is basic, it may help us understand why we have so many varied viewpoints on what is best not only for us, but for the animals in our world as well.

I am writing all of this because the topic for my semi-monthly column is “animal welfare” and I will be delving into the many issues and controversies regarding animal welfare.  I want to express clearly that I understand that there are different positions and that I understand that we have different opinions, but I hope that my column can help us all understand that the world isn’t only about us humans, and it is egotistical to think that it is.  Further, I hope that I can raise some awareness and start some great discussions here on our blog.  I mentioned the AWA and the USDA because those are the laws that I am most familiar with.  Through this column I hope to learn about other laws and how they affect various viewpoints as well.  Perhaps through learning and understanding we can head in the direction of a Universal law regarding the treatment of animals.

Thank you all for your support in this endeavor, I hope to hear from many of you in the next year as we explore the realm of animal welfare.

TS Beading


Astrid Nicole Etcetera said...

Very nice article. Thanks for reminding us that our views and opinions are often based on our own life's experiences. Those raised around cows will have a different assessment of animals in our lives than someone raised with a pampered pooch that lived a life of luxury.

Debra said...

Looking forward to more on this subject. Thanks for taking the time to bring these things to our attention.

Expressions by BJ said...

I'm totally in sync with this. More people need to learn about laws (and variations in states) of animal welfare. I like to know the laws, because I've been in and seen quite a few situations where I've had to find out how the laws apply.
It pays to learn about the animal welfare that governs your state, should you ever be challenged by it.
Animal rights & welfare knowledge doesn't just benefit the animals, but us also.
This is a great addition to our blog.

TS Beading said...

Thank you Astrid, Debra, and BJ. I always hope that at the minimum I can help raise awareness of issues.

JLynnPro said...

Fantastic post, Tsilos. I look forward to more of these, too. The one you did on animal and human welfare was amazing!