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More Animal Welfare Resources Called for

by 5m Editor
12 December 2008, at 11:43am

NEW ZEALAND - The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is supporting a proposal from the Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) for more animal welfare resources.

In a briefing to the incoming minister, MAF has raised concerns about the current level of compliance with animal welfare standards, and the ability of MAF to address this.

“MAF is currently only resourced for five welfare inspectors. This effectively only lets them act as the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, investigating offences after they have occurred,” said NZVA spokesperson Wayne Ricketts.

“What we need is a fully resourced compliance unit to support veterinarians in their role of educating, monitoring and supporting farmers on welfare matters.”

Veterinarians in rural practice and the RSPCA have been assisting MAF in the production animal sector, as MAF does not have the capacity to deal with all welfare complaints.

The NZVA has put together a wish list for the new Government, which includes developing initiatives to ensure the supply of veterinarians, recognising the public good activity undertaken by clinical veterinarians in rural areas and adequately resourcing animal welfare inspection and enforcement agencies.

“This last point is vital to enable those in compliance roles to keep the public well informed about animal welfare standards, and to deal with recidivist offenders appropriately.”

NZVA animal welfare coordinator, Virginia Williams, says the Association acknowledges the complexity of animal welfare as a public policy issue, influenced as it is by scientific, cultural, ethical, conservational, economic and political dimensions.

“Our training in veterinary science, particularly in areas such as animal health and behaviour, provides a particular expertise and interest in those areas which confers an ability to assess - and therefore a responsibility to promote - humane treatment of all animals, whether companion, production or wild,” Virginia said.

The Code of Professional Conduct issued by the Veterinary Council of New Zealand (VCNZ) places the prevention and relief of animal suffering in first place on its list of roles for veterinarians in society.

New Zealand’s success in international markets will increasingly rely on ensuring that animal welfare standards are high and that compliance with these standards can be demonstrated.

“NZVA is committed to working with MAF and Government to continue to protect our export market and uphold our international reputation,” Wayne said.