A historic decision was made in Colombian Congress last week aimed at establishing measures to tackle abuse against animals.
The initiative aims to establish punishments for those guilty of committing acts of animal cruelty.
Four legs good…
This legislation changes the way in which animals are seen in the Colombian legal system, updating how they are currently regarded as immovable property and instead declaring as them beings with feelings by law.
The new ruling was introduced by the Liberal representative Juan Carlos Losada, and is a joint initiative that included the participation of the many national and international animal organizations presenting some 450,000 citizens’ signatures supporting it to Congress, according to Colombian news reports.
“Article 1. Object. Animals as beings with feelings are not things, they will receive special protection against suffering and pain, in particular, direct or indirect pain cause by humans. In this Act some actions related to animal abuse are punishable, and a sanctioning procedure with policing and judicial measures has been established.”
Another part of the new act enables the country’s National Police to hold the animals that are victims of violence and hand out fines of two to 20 minimum wages when a person abandons a pet.
During the plenary, Congress discussed the scope of the proposal made by Senator Claudia Lozano, prohibiting the use of public resources to finance activities that promote animal abuse.
Senators said they could not prohibit bullfighting among other practices as they are cultural tradition, so that part of the proposal was dropped.
Amid the celebration of animal lovers that greeted the approval of this project, the University of Applied and Environmental Sciences (UDCA), presented a report that reveals the condition of neglect in which thousands of animals are found.
According to the report by UDCA, the main problems affecting wildlife are: abandonment, irresponsible ownership, uncontrolled reproduction, holes in regulations governing the relationship with animals, an increase in cruelty cases, practices that promote violence against animals, inadequate transport and illegal trafficking of wild animals.
In regards to cases set to recover stolen wildlife in Bogotá, the report notes that between 2013 and 2014 some 112 live animals were rescued and 211 dead animals recovered; and 44 complaints of illegal possession were recorded.
Juan David Cordoba, coordinator of the research group in Animal Welfare at UDCA, who developed the report and discussed recent figures of public policy Animal Protection and Welfare, found that in Bogotá there are currently more than 90,000 dogs and 140,000 cats in conditions of neglect.
“In Colombia, 4,500 animals are abandoned each year and 6,000 are killed in the same period of time,” he said.
Only 65 of the 185 countries across the world have special laws against animal abuse.
The UK is an example of early legislation recognising the rights of animals, because since 1822 they have issued legislation on the subject, up to the Law of “Animal Welfare” during 2006. In Germany and Switzerland, the rights of animals have reached a constitutional level.
But the most significant step corresponds to the enactment of the “Five Freedoms of Animals”, globally accepted as part of most laws on animal protection.
In Latin America; Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico, have updated legislation on the subject.
Thanks to this law, Colombia is at the forefront of animal protection in the world, although, as noted by Losada, “we still have a long way to go.”