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Canberra set to recognise animals as ‘sentient beings’ in Australian first

Vet. David Rizkalla said: It was important to clearly define which animals were recognised as sentient. If you introduce that sort of thing to large animals, like cows. It could get in the way of the economy.

ELISE SCOTT: ‘With proposed amendments to the ACT laws, Canberra would become the first jurisdiction in the country to recognise animals as “sentient beings” — the idea that animals are able to feel and perceive the world. The concept recognises that “animals have intrinsic value and deserve to be treated with compassion” and “people have a duty to care for the physical and mental welfare of animals”…

The animal welfare amendments, to be introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly this week, would establish a suite of additional offences, including hitting or kicking an animal, abandonment, and confinement in a car that is likely to cause the animal injury, stress or death…

The new laws would also create specific offences for failing to provide appropriate food, shelter, water, hygienic living, grooming and medical treatment to an animal. For example, an owner could be prosecuted if their pet suffered an eye infection due to hair growing into its eyes, was impaired due to unclipped nails or had irritated skin due to fleas.

The bill also doubles penalties for cruelty to an animal to up to two years’ imprisonment or a $32,000 fine or both, and increases punishments for aggravated cruelty to three years behind bars or a fine of $48,000 or both. Fines would also apply for injuring animals and not reporting it — such as a car hitting an animal, including kangaroos…

Veterinarian Dr David Rizkalla… said the recognition of sentience was a good place to start enforcing animal rights. “It’s more about protecting animals from people who can harm them, than giving animals better opportunities,” he said. But he said it was important to clearly define which animals were recognised as sentient. “It could get in the way of the economy,” he said. “I think it has to be quite clear if you introduce that sort of thing to large animals, like cows. “Farmers spend money on the animal if it gets them more money, it’s a profit thing, it’s not a sentimental value, it’s an economic value”.’  SOURCE…


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