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Jan 9, 2006
Focus: Civil Rights
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Location: United States

2006: 130 Years Since the First Cruelty to Animals Act

 

Since the 19th Century…

 In 2006 it will be 130 years since the approval of the “Cruelty to Animals Act” in the United Kingdom. Some other acts regarding nonhuman animals had previously been passed in the 19th century.

The “Ill-treatment of Cattle Act” was introduced back in 1822, although this law only opposed harming nonhuman animals in as much as they were resources or property that could be damaged. In 1835 The Protection of Animals Act was approved. It banned some uses of animals for entertainment such as cock and dog fighting, as well as bear, bull and badger baiting, leaving nonetheless many other uses of them untouched.

 The 1876 “Cruelty to Animals Act” was focused on the use of nonhuman animals in experiments. It was a result of strong anti-vivisectionist campaigning during the years before, as well as of the reaction against this of the pro-animal experimentation lobby. The final outcome was disappointing: no real curtails to the use of nonhumans in experiments were approved.

 
…to the 80’s

 1896 is not the only date to remember this year: in 2006 it’ll be 20 years since the ratification of the 1986 Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, which replaced the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876. This controversial law divided the organisations concerned about the interests of nonhuman animals in the UK. Although some of them supported it as they considered it better than nothing, others strongly opposed it, arguing that it didn’t mean any significant improvement for nonhumans, but rather was giving legitimacy to their use as resources. In actuality it has not brought about any notable improvements in the situation regarding the use of nonhuman animals as laboratory tools.

1986 was a year in which legislation regarding animal experimentation passed not only in the UK but in all of the European Union (which was then still known as the EEC), with the European Directive 86/609, on the “Protection Of Animals Used for Experimental or Other Scientific Purposes”. This directive has since then aroused debates in the continent similar to the ones that took place in the UK regarding the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act.

 
And also in the US

 Similarly, in the US this year it will be four decades since the approval of the Animal Welfare Act, in 1966. Just as in the case of the British laws, this act set some standards for the use of some nonhuman animals. Since then, this act has been amended on several occasions. But again, it has failed so far to draw any significant limitations to the use of nonhumans.

Therefore, the conclusion is that these acts introduced regulations to how nonhumans should be used, and prohibited only some of the uses of nonhumans, but none of them recognised other animals as right holders.

 

The Situation Now

 Nowadays, nonhumans are still massively subjected to suffering and are killed for various human purposes. Their numbers haven’t reduced, but have actually dramatically increased. It thus seems a good occasion to look back and reflect on what have been the achievements as well as the blunders in the struggle to defend nonhuman animals.

Regarding this, in spite of the very short effects that the mentioned laws have had, it would not be accurate to say that the endeavor to defend nonhumans from human exploitation so far has only been a failure. In one respect the achievements have been remarkable, but they have had to do with the efforts directed to changing the minds not of legislators but of the public. The number of people who have abandoned using nonhuman animals, irrespective of such use (i.e. slavery) being fully legal, has been significant, for example vegetarianism and veganism have never been so widespread. This seems to be, then, a proper focus for our future efforts. Besides, laws can only be approved insofar as they have enough support among the public –as long as the public keeps on viewing nonhuman animals as means for us to use then no significant legal change will ever be achieved.

From: http://speciesism.org/

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Posted: Jan 9, 2006 11:16am

 

 
 
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