Animal Protection and Well-being Model Law

There are many animal protection laws in the world, and the variety of them is impressive. We quickly learned that the task of drafting a Model Law, including collecting and rearranging regulatory elements thereof could take us years, due to the large variety of laws and their diversity. However, we had only a few months.

Download the Animal Protection and Well-being Model Law.

We first checked this world animal protection index website to identify the best and, thus, presumably the most complete national laws. We asked some animal protection organisations for recommendations, and one of them recommended Croatia, which indeed turned out to be comparatively complete. We screened other top laws, our own comparative articles and the Model Animal Welfare Act on 1 for additional elements missed or omitted by Croatia. We structured the text in a more consistent way and complemented it so as to close regulatory loopholes. Finally, we complemented the result with regulatory techniques collected in other regulatory sectors and jurisdictions worldwide, as we usually do to spread regulatory knowledge across sectors and jurisdictions.

The resulting Model Law does not contain all the elements used by one or the other animal protection law somewhere in the world, because inserting all these elements would render the text almost indigestible. However, it is by far the best basis for real-life law-makers to conceive an animal protection law adapted to their respective needs, because it contains many more (around the triple) elements than the best available national law (from Croatia) and the so far best Model Law, the Model Animal Welfare Act on Law-makers will have to make several hundred choices when going through this Model Law, selecting elements for their national law, choosing text options, and reflecting on the indicated possibilities to deepen certain aspects, for instance by reference to certain exemplary countries. They can do so in a few days whilst it would take months to create the knowledge base behind our Model Law.

Contrary to the Model Animal Welfare Act on, our Model Law is not aimed at optimising animal protection. The purpose of our Model Laws is not to suggest and defend a certain policy optimised in view of certain goals, but to show possibilities for regulators and law-makers. For instance, the balance between the goal of animal protection and other goals needs to be struck by the regulators and law-makers of each country and cannot be anticipated by the Regulatory Institute, because the situations are so different around the globe. For countries where many people, due to their poverty, see animals as food competitors, choices have to be made differently than in rich countries where pet owners can partly afford feeding their cherished animals with meat usable for human consumption which can be regarded as repulsive from the perspective of persons with uncovered food needs. We cannot solve the incompatibility of these views in this Model Law, but we can present a Model Law, which, on average, suggests as a basis for discussing an upper-medium level of protection of animals whilst showing possibilities to adapt upwards or downwards, subject to the wishes of the real-life law drafters.

Hence, as for so many other regulatory sectors, the level of protection (here: of animals) should be determined in a realistic way, taking into account the respective population and situation. Going to the extreme or just going too far for the respective population and situation might backfire at least in two ways:

  • Where obligations are perceived as unrealistic or overburdening, the entire law might be discarded and thus not respected; and
  • Enforcement capacities might not suffice to enforce a very stringent set of obligations.

We thus claim that, even in terms of animal protection, it might be better to go for still acceptable and enforceable obligations and make them more stringent gradually over time. This applies in particular to farmed animals.

Regarding the level of granularity of this Model Law, we had to make difficult choices. It was not possible to integrate all elements found in the many diverse laws. Readers who wish to use more elements will find some hints spread over the Model Law. At a more general level, we refer to our three dedicated articles (1, 2, 3) and to the following sources:

And evidently, we cannot cover here all the many policy aspects that might come into play3.

In view of the different implementation capacities of jurisdictions, including those of developed economies, the following colour coding is used in this Model Law:

  • Green stands for provisions which are “technically easy to implement” or “unavoidable / essential whilst being of medium difficulty to implement”; therefore, the green provisions represent the minimum all jurisdictions should follow for an effective and competent regulatory framework.
  • Red is at the opposite end and stands for “technically difficult to implement” or “rarely advantageous whilst being of medium difficulty of implementation”; we thus recommend particular caution before including the red provisions.
  • The remaining provisions are marked in yellow. They are all of medium difficulty.

The Model Law is constructed in such a way that it could “stand” with the green provisions alone, but that the sections or provisions in yellow or red can be added as extension modules.

In the above, we refer to the degree of simplicity of the implementation. However, in our view, this parameter alone should not determine whether certain provisions are to be included or excluded in a particular regulation. What is more important for us is the overall quantitative implementation and in particular, the enforcement capacity of the respective jurisdiction; even very advanced technical jurisdictions should consider this carefully. Hence the following questions need to be answered:

  • Do we have the necessary (quantitative) enforcement capacities to enforce all the provisions we deem ideal?
  • If not, which provisions shall we mainly focus on in terms of enforcement, where shall we steer our resources?
  • Which further provisions should still remain in our act because they will be (largely) applied even without enforcement?

As a result of this sequence of questions, even some provisions marked in green will need to be eliminated at the end of the day, and even in technically very advanced jurisdictions. Again, we encourage the regulators and law-makers to be selective and to adapt this Model Law to their respective needs. It is made for that purpose and does not pretend to be a one-size-fits-all solution.

1. World Animal Net (WAN) has now merged into the World Federation for Animals (WFA).

2.The links point to the German versions, because there is no official English version and the German version might be more suitable for machine translation, as it is mostly the drafting language in Switzerland. The French and Italian versions are accessible by the buttons “FR” or “IT” on the top right.

3.See as examples the One Health global initiative or this document “Unveiling the Nexus: The Interdependence of Animal Welfare Environment Sustainable Development” of the World Federation for Animals.


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