Thanks to an extensive campaign, some of the worst loopholes in the Animal Welfare Act have been closed. Previously, a clause in section 73 stated that the rules could be broken in “exceptional” circumstances. NAWAC used this clause on a regular basis, including as justification for the continued use of battery cages, sow stalls, and farrowing crates.
In 2012, the government sought to expand these loopholes, by introducing a new section 183 to replace the old loopholes. The new section 183 would have allowed the use of the loopholes in virtually any circumstance, for any period of time. Thanks to a campaign led by SAFE, the government reversed this decision and decided that the loopholes must be closed.
The law is still failing animals, however. Though sow stalls are being phased out, battery cages are staying with the new name ‘colony cages’ and are protected through flexible definitions. Farrowing crates are still allowed indefinitely, but SAFE believes that the law requires them to be phased out, and will continue to campaign on the issue.
The government also uses flexible definitions to allow continued cruelty. Cruelty can be considered “necessary” for a rodeo to continue to exist. A hen’s “normal patterns of behaviour” can be claimed to be quite limited – normal behaviour might include turning around, but not “extensive locomotion.” This allows the government to approve keeping hens in crowded colony cages. SAFE believes these definitions fall below the intent of the law.