One of the biggest obstacles Humane Society International faces is the frequent lack of comprehensive animal welfare laws within some of the countries in which we work. While we don’t let this stop us from pushing forward with the means and tools available to us, the existence of laws and systems of enforcement provide a framework within which we can protect animals and bring perpetrators of cruelty to justice.
Vietnam, where we have been involved for a few years now, is one such country. We have been working on the ground there to reduce the demand for rhino horns and end the dog meat trade, and we have partnered with corporations on the humane treatment of farm animals with great success. This week, our efforts received a huge boost when the country’s legislative body, the National Assembly, passed an animal welfare law that covers the welfare of farm animals and animals used in scientific research.
Under this new animal welfare legislation, part of a wider animal husbandry law that was adopted by the National Assembly, organizations and individuals engaged in breeding farm animals must provide adequate food and water for the animals, ensure hygienic standards of all facilities in which farm animals are kept, and provide the animals with medical treatment.
The new law prohibits mistreatment and abuse, including beating and tormenting them. It also requires that animals be stunned before slaughter, and that those awaiting slaughter do not witness the slaughter of other animals. The measure also provides for the creation of standards that include appropriate transport of farm animals.
I want to congratulate my colleagues at HSI who had a major hand in helping ensure the passage of this law. Vietnam has never before embraced the concept of farm animal welfare, and our staff members on the ground — after learning that the country was pondering such a law — reached out to officials at the Department of Livestock Production in Vietnam to offer suggestions and guidance. In April 2018, we organized a study tour in Belgium and the Netherlands for five officials from the Department of Livestock Production, the Vietnam Ministry of Justice and the National Assembly, including a series of visits to cage-free and crate-free facilities and meetings with representatives from the European Commission. The goal was to familiarize the Vietnamese officials with an understanding of the European Union’s comprehensive animal welfare laws.
The Department of Livestock Production has expressed its appreciation of our support, and we plan to continue working with them and ensure further enhancements, including a phase-out plan for battery cages and gestation crates nationwide by 2030.
Vietnam has taken other steps in recent years to improve the lot of animals, like banning the cruel Draize rabbit eye test for cosmetics. Progress has been made on the dog meat issue, with the city of Hanoi cracking down on the trade by issuing a directive ordering a ban on dog meat by 2021 because of concerns about the spread of rabies. The passage of this new legislation is encouraging and we commend the Vietnamese government for taking one more step in the right direction for animal welfare.