Two far-east countries that are infamous for violations against human rights are making a very unlikely compassionate leap by instituting their first policies to protect animals. The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal has passed its first Animal Welfare Act and the People’s Republic of China has drafted the China Animal Protection Law.
The recently approved Animal Welfare Act in Nepal already has two initial projects in the works. The building of the country’s first animal sanctuary for rescued animals and a separate sanctuary for donkeys. Both are scheduled to open in mid October.
The shelter will house rescued animals and include a veterinary hospital and spay and neuter clinic.
The donkey sanctuary already has 14 rescued animals waiting to be transferred to the facility. They are part of a rescue mission from one of the worst cases of animal cruelty Nepal has ever witnessed – 55 other donkeys died during that tragedy.
The abuse to donkeys is widespread in Nepal because they are frequently used for labor and made to carry heavy loads on their backs. They are crowded into small sheds and given little food or water.
Animal Nepal, a network of animal rights activists, hopes the new Animal Welfare Act will, “Raise awareness against animal cruelty.” The group has been fighting for the new law for many years.
Paul Littlefair, senior program manager with the RSPCA’s international department said, “It is a very significant landmark – when it is passed it will be the first time in China’s history that the state is sending a clear message to every citizen: ‘the way we treat animals, matters’.”
The RSPCA is committed to staying in China to see that all of these initiatives are implemented. The group will also promote education to the public about many of the misconceptions they have regarding animals. Many Chinese believe the cruel practice of culling dogs is the only method of destroying rabies and are unaware that vaccines are available for both the prevention of the disease and to cure it once someone has been affected. Furthermore the organization will help oversee that the new law is enforced.
Legal experts from the government have put the final touches on the proposal and sent it to be reviewed. Chang Jiwen, who helped draft the law said, “It’s different from Western laws. For example, we won’t require keepers to give dogs shelters as most Chinese cannot afford that. Only people who unnecessarily and intentionally abuse animals will be punished.” He hopes regulations in the future will be more sophisticated and move toward Western laws.