Vote for an animal-friendly candidate!

Last weekend we celebrated Animalia’s 50th anniversary event in Helsinki. Now the party is over and it is time to get back to action! A decisive day is coming up: on April 17, Finland is voting for a new parliament. This parliamentary election is of the utmost importance for animals in Finland, as whoever is voted will be in charge of renewing the Finnish Animal Welfare Act. You can read the current Animal Welfare Act  for yourself and you’ll see that there is a lot to do. 

Probably all of the existing Finnish political parties agree in general terms with the protection of animals and the Animal Welfare Act. What they disagree about are the amendments that spell out the details of animal protection. Animalia and SEY have joined forces on the website www.elainpolitiikka.fi to define exactly how the current law and its amendments need to be changed in order to protect animals in Finland more effectively. The organisations have stressed the following issues in the discussion around the parliamentary elections 2011:

1. The Animal Welfare Act and its practical implementation and control have to be improved.
– The Animal Welfare Act needs to be renewed in a way that does not only meet EU minimum standards but goes beyond these.
– More resources have to be allocated to the implementation and control of animal welfare laws.
– A post for an authorized agent in charge of animal issues must be created.

2. The welfare of farm animals must be improved.
– Agricultural politics must be directed to improve animal welfare. For instance, government support must only be given to industries that clearly improve animal welfare, such as the transition away from battery cages for egg-laying hens towards free-range laying houses.
– Minimum standards for farm animals must be increased according to the newest research information. For instance, male piglets’ routine castration without pain relief and the keeping of pregnant sows’ in gestation crates must be forbidden by law.
– Government support must not be given to image campaigns for animal products. (The agricultural ministery allocates yearly hundreds of thousands of euros to marketing animal products.)
– Standards for animal breeding that cause animal health problems must be tightened.

3. The number of animals used in experimental testing must be reduced.
– Finland must draw up an operation plan, which clearly spells out steps toward reducing the numbers of animals in experimentation as well as steps toward ending painful tests on animals. The parliament has already taken up this issue, but its actions are ineffective.
– The government must support research institutions that aim at finding alternatives  to animal testing; one such institution is the FICAM in Tampere, which needs to be supported financially.
– Animal testing on primates must be forbidden.

4. Fur farming must be forbidden with a transition period.
– Throughout the European Union the trend goes toward forbidding fur farming. This needs to happen also in Finland. During the transition period fur farmers must be re-educated, released into early pension or otherwise supported. A committee for planning the ban of fur farming by the year 2025 needs to be established.
– As an alternative to the ban of fur farming by law, the standards for the keeping of fur animals must be tightened. This led to the end of fox farming in Sweden. All fur farming in Switzerland ended after standards for fur animals were raised to the same status as standards for zoo animals.

5. The protection of companion animals needs to be improved.
– Electric collars and other impulse collars for training dogs must be outright forbidden.
– Keeping exotic animals as pets must be limited by law. Exotic species must not be allowed for sale if the buyer can not guarantee to meet all the needs of the animal.
– Microchip implants and registration must be made obligatory for companion animals, at least for dogs and cats.
– The recovery of stray animals and their registration, vaccination and sterilisation/castration system must be improved.

6. Animal welfare must be taken into account in public institutions.
– The share of plant-based food in public institutions (such as schools, hospitals, etc.) must be increased. Communities must be encouraged to introduce a weekly vegetarian day in their public institutions.
– Public institutions must favour free-range and organic eggs, as well as organic meat and organic dairy products.

If you agree with these goals, then you can do a lot to make them come true. First of all, make your own consumption animal-friendly and encourage your family and friends to do the same. Moreover, make sure your personal candidate for parliament supports animal welfare and animal rights. The best way to find out, is to ask them about their opinion and to make your own standpoint clear.

The Animalia International group has been spreading this information by distributing Animalia’s election leaflet all over the city of Helsinki. We tour the streets, shops, veterinarian offices or dog parks, universities, schools and other places. Volunteers have already distributed more than 20.000 leaflets all over Finland. Let’s give animals a voice!

Tina

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