On October 4th of 1931, the World Animal Daywas enacted by the International Animal Protection Congress in Florence, Italy.Starting from 1925, the German cynologist Heinrich Zimmermann strived todesignate a special day to strengthen the awareness of animal rights in aneffort to improve their welfare standards around the globe. The very firstWorld Animal Day was unofficially organized in 1925 at the Sport Palace inBerlin, with 5,000 attendees. Such participation indicated how people wereinterested in animal welfare. Over the centuries, the World Animal Day has beencommemorated under the public’s growing concerns on animal welfare.
From the onset of humanity, we have beendependent on animals. For example, hunter-gatherers chased wild animals forsurvival. With livestock’s labor, human could reach an apical point of agriculturalrevolution. Plus, there could be soaring advancement in science due to animal sacrificeduring clinical tests. But with human’s never-ending greed, we chose to inflictcruelty on the living creatures. Animals are being farmed and sold in varioustrades such as for food, pets, traditional medicine and entertainment. Not onlythat, the horrific conditions of animal residence are sickening both mankindand animals. As witnessed in the case of the Coronavirus, as human and animalsare tightly interrelated species of earth and mutually influencing each other, attenti0nstarted to focus on thinking back to the way we consume and handle animals. Moreover,recent socio-economic phenomena like the acceleration towards an aging societyand the surge of single-person households led to the rise of companionship withpets. Consequently, expanding the view of animal prosperity for the sake oftheir family member’s rights.
So, what is animal welfare? Many peoplemistakenly confuse the concept of animal welfare as veganism. It is one’schoice to be vegan for their creed and health purposes. Veganism can be ameasure of enhancing or supporting animal welfare but it doesn’t directlysignify the animal welfare itself. Animal advocators don’t forcefully issue adenial on meat consuming industries nor coerce others to live on vegetables. Butif consumption is necessary, they put purpose on assuaging the harm and painconflicted in the process for the animal’s well-being.
Defined by OIE (World Organization for AnimalHealth), animal welfare must be practiced based on five freedoms: freedom fromhunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury anddisease; freedom to express normal behavior and freedom from fear and distress.
Europe is known for their radical and active practiceon welfare systems. Since the 1960s, there have been discussions forlegislating policies regarding animal welfare by the Council of Europe:prohibiting densely populated breeding facilities for egg laying hens andbanning hormone shots and antibiotics to livestock. Regarding the problem, UKis a pioneering country. They set up the nation’s autonomous animal welfareclassification system RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals),granting a ‘Freedom Food’ mark on farm products which were produced by followingthe country’s own criteria. Furthermore, a cosmetic brand LUSH, which iswell-known for fighting against animal testing, can be a great example of the UnitedKingdom’s concerns toward animal testing.
The U.S. lay down laws of the Animal WelfareAct in 1966 but it is mainly targeting amendments on pets and animal testing.Compared to the EU where legislative restrictions were ordained from a nationallevel, American animal welfare acts has been primarily carried out at the consumers’level. For example, food industry giants KFC, McDonalds and Burger King settheir own criteria on their supply, using ethically produced stockbreedingproductions.
In the case of Republic of Korea, thegovernment presented a comprehensive plan for 2020 to 2024 animal safetybenefits and newly-established an animal welfare research team under theNational Institute of Animal Science. Its primitive goal is to develop andsupply systems and technologies to farm animal welfare and to melioratenegative image of animal husbandry. Currently, Korean husbandry industries aretrying to switch from their conventional way of animal breeding by creatingfacilities based on five freedoms of animals. Furthermore, KARA (Korea AnimalRights Advocates) ardently embarks on education of animal protection, adoptionof abandoned animals and research on animal welfare policies. Even lectures havebeen opened to the public to promote the image of animal wellbeing in a friendlyand familiar way.
On a smaller scale of action for animalwelfare, Sungshin’s school club ‘Sungshin Butlers’ is in charge of our Sujung campus’scat’s welfare. The Butlers launched the club to make a better livingenvironment for cats and to bring enhancement on the awareness of street cats. Asan animal advocate, one Soojung (a nickname for students of Sungshin) from theclub gave an opinion toward animal welfare. “Recently, lots of cruel incidentsrelated to animal abuse occurred. Afflicting harm on feeble creatures iscontinued, but the punishment is as light as just a slap on the wrist. Like MahatmaGandhi said, ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged bythe way its animals are treated.’ We heartily agree. I hope animal lovers wouldgather more in order to generate stronger disciplinary actions and support foranimals are achievable.”
Our interest toward animal welfare is rising,but the lack of information and reproduction of misinformation are obstacleshindering us to be ethical animal advocators. The smallest, but the surest wayto solidify animal advocacy is a profound understanding and continuousattention. Starting from this October, how about keeping World Animal Day inmind as a foothold of caring for animal welfare?
By Chaiwon Kim Deputy Editor-in-Chief (email@example.com)