Photo credits: Djurens Rätt/Shutterstock
On 1 April the new Animal Welfare Law came into force in Sweden. Thanks to efforts of Djurens Rätt and other Swedish animal protection organisations, from now on it will be illegal to abandon animals in Sweden without legal consequences. Also, circuses will no longer be allowed to use elephants and sea lions for entertainment purposes, but although the new law introduces the right for animals to express their natural behaviors, minks bred for fur and laying hens are still allowed to be kept in cages.
The new Animal Welfare Law was voted in the Swedish parliament last summer, replacing the existing one from 1988. Sebastian Wiklund, head of political advocacy in Djurens Rätt, welcomed the new law but remained cautiously positive, as a lot of effort will still have to be invested in its enforcement. “We are pleased that the new animal welfare law is in place. Now the work continues for the law’s intentions to become reality,” he commented. “For example, animals should be able to behave naturally; they should be kept and managed with their welfare in mind and should be able to move freely. [This law] will require a lot of changes.”
Despite the fact that the new Animal Welfare Law introduced the act allowing animals to express their natural behavior, minks farmed for fur are still kept in cages. This is a huge problem since there are currently 70 fur farms in Sweden where one million minks are being killed every year after spending their entire lives in confined spaces. Earlier this year, Djurens Rätt released a statement on the topic after the evaluation of mink welfare was published by the Swedish Board of Agriculture in January.
On the brighter side, the new law puts more focus on homeless and feral cats with the abandonment prohibition act. With the Lex Maja becoming a reality, healthcare and social services personnel is allowed to report cases of animal abuse in Swedish households to the relevant authorities. Now part of the Public Prosecution and Secrecy Act, this law was introduced after the cat Maja died alone in an apartment in 2016 after her owner went to hospital. Although they knew about the cat, the healthcare staff decided not to do anything due to private property secrecy regulations.
In addition, Djurens Rätt welcomes the ban on certain animals used in circuses being extended to sea lions and elephants. Of course, this is not the end of the fight, as the goal is to include all wild animals used for entertainment in the ban.
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