The kernel of the idea started life back in the early 1990s when I was working for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA as was, now World Animal Protection) as its European Director and International Legislative Advisor. Over the years, we assisted many countries across the world with the formulation and enforcement of legislation. In the process, we witnessed the difficulty that national governments had in identifying model laws, analysing these, and drafting their own law projects. Worse still, when we travelled for work we often met animal protection organisations in different countries that were working on their own draft law projects, sometimes even commissioning lawyers (some of whom knew little or nothing about animal protection issues!) to undertake this task for them.
Many of these draft laws found their way to WSPA for consideration and comment. Then it was our task to analyse these, which we did through comparison with a variety of laws from across the world that were considered to be of a high standard (and other relevant sources). All the drafts we received were lacking in some way or another... and the duplication of work and effort was really concerning.
We did what we could to help – for example, preparing guidance notes, and these helped somewhat, but did not completely meet the needs of the legislative drafters.
Many years later, now with World Animal Net, I was fortunate enough to meet Sabine Lennkh. I think the first time we came across each other was in connection with a Chinese animal welfare law project (which has still not been accepted). Then, our paths crossed again in Africa, when I was working on a number of animal protection projects in the continent, some of which involved legislation – and Sabine was living in the Seychelles and working on a law project for the country (she was at the time the Deputy Chair for the Seychelles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). We discussed the idea of a Model Animal Welfare Act, and agreed that this would be an excellent tool – especially for the many ‘developing’ countries which would shortly be working on animal welfare laws (in particular, due to the need to implement the OIE’s new international standards on animal welfare).
Now finally, the idea has come to fruition and here it is!
We hope that the Model Animal Welfare Act will prove to be a useful guide and information source for countries seeking to introduce or improve their animal welfare legislation, and that it will:
- Support countries working to introduce the new animal welfare frameworks needed to effectively implement international standards;
- Provide countries with the opportunity to design modern, comprehensive animal welfare legislation on a very high level;
- Help countries and animal protection organisations to analyse existing legislation against international ‘best practice’; and
- Enable animal protection organisations to carry out effective advocacy on the introduction or improvement of animal protection legislation in their countries.
I have to say that I probably wouldn’t have suggested the project if I had known the time and commitment that this would take! Throughout these three years, Sabine has worked tirelessly, on a voluntary basis, always cheerful and willing – and always meticulous and professional (spotting all my typos, repetitions and legal faux-pas!). We also had wonderful help and support on this project from World Animal Net’s Akisha Townsend Eaton, JD.
We would also like to place on record our gratitude to the incredible reviewers who spent their time and expertise analysing the project, and sending in their many suggestions for improvement. We greatly appreciated the generous sharing of their considerable expertise and experience in this field, and think that their work has enriched and improved the final product considerably.