I am convinced that it is of great importance for us, as individuals and as a society, to shape a healthy relationship with animals; one that will do them justice and one that will provide us humans with a good conscience. If we reject this relationship, be it on purpose or out of ignorance, moral neglect will pursue that will negatively affect long term human relations.
So how do we treat animal protection in general, particularly when there is no consistent behavior or thinking among the majority of the population? It does not help to point the moral finger to holes in the system when there is possibly no system in existence.
The two cornerstones for the protection of animals are animal ethics and animal welfare legislation. One is the necessary basis for the other in terms of application. Coherent and consistent legislation for the protection of animals is dependent on ethical foundations. These principles must be made by theologians and philosophers. Clear ethical concepts are the basis for a legal system. The reason why animals should be better positioned in law is fundamental. It is easy to advocate animal protection in general and to raise them humanely, but when it comes to intricacies an ethical foundation is essential.
One of the most important recognitions of modern times is animal dignity. It is therefore crucial that we perceive animals in their entirety and grant them not only welfare rights, but also integrity, in other words appreciating their intrinsic value. It involves much more than simply preventing suffering and pain. If one takes the concept of dignity as a basis, not only relatively straightforward questions on livestock production and slaughtering are addressed, but others such as the keeping of pets, the use of animals for therapeutic purposes and the their use as "love objects".
By incorporating the "Würde der Kreatur" (dignity of creation) in the Federal Constitution in 1992 and subsequently in the Animal Welfare Act, Switzerland has made a promising start in this context. Other countries have since followed.
In recent years, I have observed a growing interest to improve the legal position of animals and I am offering my experience and knowledge more and more to international lobbying groups. Here, I advocate for the substantive and structural improvement of the legal status of animals in the constitution, in law and in law enforcement.
GAL is an independent and globally pioneering authority on animal health and welfare in law. The association was established by me in Zurich in 2016.
GAL's global approach includes the idea of "One Health" for a healthy planet with healthy people and animals living in harmony. Animal health is understood as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.
GAL focuses on realistic, sustainable and expansive steps to move forward and strives to act in practical and beneficial ways. In collaboration with national and international institutions, GAL supports respective legislators in taking the next steps to develop key measures that will help ensure the legal protection and welfare of all categories of animals: Pets, livestock, laboratory, sport or wild animals.
GAL's work is based on 4 pillars: prevention, legislation, enforcement and information/education.
More information at www.globalanimallaw.org.