International animal welfare organisation World Animal Protection has released an Animal Protection Index. Similar to the United Nation’s Human Development Index and the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index, the Animal Protection Index ranks the animal welfare policies and legislation of 50 countries based on 15 indicators.
Of the 50 countries, only four received an A rating: the UK, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Austria. Coming in second with B ratings were Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, and Chile.
The United States received a D ranking, along with Kenya, Romania, Indonesia, and Peru. Several north African countries received an F along with Pakistan and Myanmar, while the worst ranking countries with G’s were Belarus and Iran.
The 50 countries selected for ranking are the world’s largest producers of beef, poultry, pork, sheep, and goat, and milk and eggs.
The 15 indicators used can be summarised by five themes, including:
- Recognising animal protection
‘Recognition of animal sentience and the importance of animal protection as a societal value within the country, including government support for the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, prohibition of cruelty and protection for different categories of animals.’
- Governance structures and systems
‘Government commitment to improving animal protection. This includes whether there is allocation of responsibility, accountability and resources within government.’
- Animal welfare standards
‘Whether the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)’s animal welfare standards have been incorporated into law or policy, the extent of engagement with the OIE on animal welfare issues, and whether the government publishes reports on progress in improving animal welfare.’
- Providing humane education
‘Whether issues of animal care and protection are included in the national education system at primary and secondary level, and comments on whether animal welfare issues such as humane handling form part of veterinary medicine education.’
- Promoting communication and awareness
‘Whether there is government consultation and engagement with relevant stakeholders on animal protection issues, such as the development of new legislation and policy and the licensing of scientific research using animals.’
The Animal Protection Index is an interactive, navigable resource with a wealth of information. Using the Index’s ‘Compare’ feature, you can select up to four countries at a time and see each one’s score break down for each of the 15 indicators, as well as how they contrast in various areas.
You can also select an individual country to view their full report, complete with research and analysis. World Animal Protection hopes that the results will move governments to ‘factor these issues into current critical debates on food, public health, and sustainable development.’
As the world grows and globalises, as developing countries build their infrastructure and developed countries refine theirs in light of things like climate change and humanity’s effect on the planet, it the perfect time for animal welfare to be built into legislation. Such action will prevent the need for reactionary measures such as shelters and sanctuaries by stopping abuse before it occurs.
US President Barack Obama said, ‘I think how we treat our animals reflects how we treat each other.’ Of late, humanity has not been treating itself, its habitat, or its fellow beings very well. In going forward as a species, it is time to not only acknowledge our responsibility to the land we live on, but also those with whom we share it.