An animal’s welfare is considered when it is well taken care of. That is, it was treated in accordance with a country’s laws.
Animal welfare takes into consideration an animal’s health, humane handling, and humane slaughter if it’s an animal meant for consumption.
In the Philippines, Republic Act No. 8485 serves to promote animal welfare in the country.
Essentially it addresses animal welfare by making sure establishments and facilities concerning breeding, maintaining, keeping, treating or training of all animals either as objects or as household pets are supervised and regulated.
It also aims to prevent animal cruelty.
According to the Republic Act, the killing of animals other than typical animals used for consumption (cows, pigs, goats, sheep, chicken, rabbits, carabao, horse, deer, and crocodiles) is considered unlawful except when (1) it’s part of a religious ritual, (2) the animal harbors a communicable disease according to a vet, the animal needs to be euthanized, (3) the animal owner’s life and limb are compromised by the animal, (4) when done for the purpose of animal population control, (5) when it is used in an authorized research, (6) and any other reasons determined by a vet.
The Republic Act also ensures that all establishments that use animals as a source of income must first secure a certificate of registration from the Bureau of Animal Industry. The certificate requires that establishments for animals are adequate, clean, and sanitary.
The Five Freedoms by John Webster
According to John Webster, an animal should be granted five freedoms: (1) Freedom from thirst and hunger, (2) freedom from discomfort, (3) freedom from pain, injury, and disease, (4) freedom to express most normal behavior, and (5) freedom from fear and distress.
This brings up an important question: Do animals have feelings? The answer to this question determines the extent of considering animal welfare.
One perspective is considering the net happiness of an animal, that is, its enjoyment must be more than its suffering. Measuring this proves to be difficult because of the difficulty of quantifying animal welfare.
The Definition of Animal Welfare
Another philosophy is that animal welfare is all about keeping the animal away from harassment, and unnecessary pain.
It is a given that people need animals for food. Several things must be taken into account when doing business concerning animals used for food. One must make sure the operations are legal and sustainable at the same time.
Trust in the legal system of a country is needed to make sure all animals are used for the purposes they were intended for. Example, pet dogs should be treated as pets, and livestock should be treated as sources of food and not as punching bags.
The Concept of Animal Welfare
There is a growing trend for free range meat or meat that came from animals that have been treated with the utmost care.
This raises a question, “Is there such a thing as a humane slaughter?”
Apparently not, but we can appease ourselves in different ways. Food is food, business is business, and appetite is appetite. We all have our choices in our food, and we are free to choose what we eat. However, I think cannibalism is where we draw the line.
In the Philippines, we stick to the staples, chicken, pork, fish, and beef. Anything other than that is a delicacy depending where you are in the Philippines.
The Irony of Happy Meat
Happy meat is making big bucks in the market nowadays, creating the ironic effect of encouraging more slaughter of animals by keeping up with demands. Apparently, we love the concept of conscious eating. If the appetite whets, and the budget fits, why not bite into it, right?
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan that loves the taste of meat, this puts you in a tough spot, because meat is delicious, and the label of a pork chop that died living a good life sounds tantalizing.
The Promise of Higher Profit
With this growing trend, animal welfare triumphs in the end, because businesses are promised sales growth if they comply to raising the standards of animal production.
While the world isn’t going vegan anytime soon, animal welfare supporters are advised to better invest in the development of what is called “new vegans.” People who make the conscious choice of preferring plant-based food than meat. This claims to be a better alternative than investing in better treatment of animals in production farms, which also holds little to no promise of sustainable humane practices unless people have found a way to secure human tendencies for violence.
Veganism, or at the very least, vegetarianism is one sure fire way to reduce the chunk of the profits that meat producers make.
Animal welfare remains to be in the hands of the meat producers alone.