New Zealand’s animal welfare reputation drops with new index

Clearly presented information on the harm humans do to animals around the world can be hard to come by. We are grateful for a great new informative resource looking at the plight of farmed animals globally, which has just been released. Voiceless, an Australian animal protection institute, has produced the Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index (VACI). The index ranks 50 countries, which produce about 80% of the world’s livestock, based on their treatment of land-based farm animals.

The index expands on the work done in 2014 by World Animal Protection (WAP). The WAP index examined animal welfare legislation and regulation worldwide. This is incorporated into VACI, along with animal consumption and how many farm animals there are at any one time. Looking at these three factors gives an overview of how farm animals are faring.

The information is presented on an interactive website that allows you to look at an overall score that can be weighted by the three areas, or to look at each individually. The website is clear, easy to use, and has a lot of information on how the information was put together, and why. Along with the index, there are reports that give an insight into what is happening in each country.

New Zealand’s results show that our country ranks 37th out of 50 for ‘producing cruelty’ and 45th for ‘consuming cruelty’ (1st is the least cruelty, 50th is the most cruelty). We rank third in the ‘sanctioning cruelty’ category that looks at animal welfare laws. Whilst third appears a good result, it is more aspiration than substance, as there are holes in the regulatory system, little enforcement and a serious lack of funding for animals. Factory-farmed animals are kept in miserable conditions where they cannot express their normal behaviours, contrary to the stated principles in the Animal Welfare Act. Animals and their products generate billions of dollars each year. Of that money, the Government spends less than 0.1% on animal welfare.

New Zealand’s overall ranking is 30th out of 50. The highest rated country is Kenya, as it has a very small amount of animal production and consumption per capita. The worst placed is Belarus; it has high levels of production and consumption, and very minimal animal welfare laws.

The index shows the achievements made for animals, like the banning of sow stalls and phasing out of old-style battery hen cages. However, we can also see we cannot become complacent. New Zealand is a big producer and consumer of animals, and with farrowing crates, factory farming, rodeo and more animal cruelty still allowed there is still much progress to be made.

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13 November 2017