Tuesday 18 November 2008

Cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy

I say that cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy, but why? Because it is only through the pressure that can be exerted on a government by the enlightened, caring and educated people of a democratic country that a government will create and implement, animal welfare laws. And an enlightened people only comes from prosperity over time.

cats talking
"Hey Charlie, it's great here isn't it? But I'm worried about our brothers and sisters all over the world. It ain't that good for some is it? Na, you're right there mate........" Cats talking - photo by fofurasfelinas probably the most famous Flickr cat photographer.

{note: I use the word "cat" in the title and text as this is my area of main concern}

On a simplistic level look at the undemocratic countries and see the kind of animal welfare law that they have, if they have any at all. China is the classic example. There are no animal welfare laws and fairly widespread abuse towards cats and animals both domestic and wild including endangered animals. Perhaps the other end of the spectrum is England, which possibly has some of the best animal welfare legislation. Although there are still too many cases of unpunished animal cruelty particularly against cats in England and the United Kingdom.

There is no gain for the dictator in creating and implementing cat and animal welfare laws. Dictatorships are all about personal gain by the people running the country. They are more likely to exploit wild animals and be in breach of CITES if they are contracting parties. The classic example here is Myanmar better known as Burma (see Burma and animal welfare). This is an uncaring dictatorship. Yes, cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy.

Prosperity is important for cat and animal welfare to flourish. A poor democratic country is probably in fact semi-democratic due to corruption at government level. Corruption at the political level will thrive in a poor country because politics becomes a way out of poverty or simply to become rich. It may look like a democracy but internally it isn't. Corruption ruins democracy. And a corrupt but ostensibly democratic government will not be concerned about low priority issues such as animal welfare.

Cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy as wealth is needed to implement legislation. There are cases of a country having good cat and animal welfare legislation but poor animal welfare because of a lack of funding to implement it. A case in point is India. The British Raj started them on the road to animal welfare law which they updated but the funding is not there backed up by a failure of the people to put pressure on the government to implement the law, which, incidentally, is excellent (see cat and animal welfare in India). The people don't put pressure on the government because the heart of India is poor notwithstanding that India has a number of billionaires and has a strongly developing economy. India is ranked 137th (out of 192 countries) in terms of gross national income (GNI) per capita (src: World Bank Group). Poor people are liable to harbor outdated beliefs about animals due to a lack of education. Educating Indians is a vital ingredient in improving animal welfare in India and importantly the protection of endangered wildlife. I would expect India to be one of the best in terms of animal welfare in the future but will time run out for the endangered wildcats, my area of personal concern? The tiger is the classic and humbling case in point. We have failed. See Bengal tiger facts.

Pakistan is an interesting case. The enacting of animal welfare laws took place during the British Raj (rule over India). This ended in 1947. Nothing it seems has happened since. We know that Pakistan has been and is neither a democracy nor prosperous. This supports my argument that cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy. See Pakistan and animal welfare law.

When people become more enlightened about animals as feeling creatures this leads to animal welfare taking place on the ground without state intervention. Governments should do more to educate the people to change their views about animals. This will provide governments with a ready made workforce to implement animal welfare initiatives. In the UK there are a large number of charitable organizations that contribute hugely to animal welfare in the country.

Mexico is one of those countries that best demonstrates that cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy. It is a democracy but only just it seems. There is voting but political corruption. The government don't serve the people completely. Mexico is a middle income country as judged by the World Bank with a gross national income (GNI) per capita of 12,580 USD. This puts the country at 61st place out if 192. It is a country that demonstrates that Animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy.

Since the late 1980s Mexico has developed a full range of animal welfare laws both in relation to domestic animals (companion and farm) and wild species. Mexico also has regulations known as Official Mexican Norms. These set standards of good practice. This spate of animal welfare legislation was in part encouraged by other countries as Mexico entered into a number of international treaties.

The difficulties in implementing the legislation is due to a number of factors. Emma R. Norman and Norma Contreras Hernández in their article on Animal Protection policy cite these influences:

--low school attendance rates
--organized crime in wild species trafficing
--political deficiencies
--civil society support
--the scale of the problem

One stark problem was the fact that the Mexican government didn't have the resources to implement the first class legislation. The legislation is comprehensive so requires a well trained staff to implement it. The will, commitment and resources were not forthcoming, for example, to fight organized crime.

In Mexico, the legislation was overambitious and the scale of the animal welfare problems too large. It is relatively easy to enact laws in comparison to implementing them. Ineffectively implemented cat and animal welfare legislation is commonplace throughout the world in the less well developed countries (and the better developed countries).

If the politicians choose to ignore the electorate (because they are essential in politics for themselves) the electorate will loose faith in the government and stop voting and stop voicing its concerns. In terms of animal welfare this is the opposite of what is required. As mentioned an educated and motivated society can be utilized to raise standards of animal welfare.

Cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy but even when this criteria is in place problems occur. The problem of implementing animal welfare law can also be present in so called rich western countries. In the England the ban on fox hunting with dogs has largely failed. Firstly it was watered down through pressure by the hunting lobby. Secondly, it is almost impossible to enforce it as hunting foxes takes place in relatively remote places and the police quite frankly are no longer any good in England. They are running out of finance because of a profligate attitude towards very generous police pensions and other financial waste. The police are almost fire proof in England but are failing society. This is an indication as to how prosperity and careful fiscal management is required to implement animal welfare law.

The argument that cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy is supported by the fact that the best legislation is to be found in the founding members of the EU and in North America. These are countries in the top rank of prosperity and all are democratic.

Cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy to cats and the law

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