News by Country

The U.S. is not the only place where the frontier of animal law is expanding. Given the global nature of research collaboration, developments in animal law around the world bear watching.

Following is news of recent events listed by country:


Court won’t declare chimp a person
Yahoo News, Austria, Vienna September 27, 2007 – He’s now got a human name — Matthew Hiasl Pan — but he’s having trouble getting his day in court. Animal rights activists campaigning to get Pan, a 26-year-old chimpanzee, legally declared a person vowed Thursday to take their challenge to Austria’s Supreme Court after a lower court threw out their latest appeal.

Austria Court to Rule if Chimp has Legal Rights 
The Observer (UK), April 01, 2007 – Judges in Austria are considering whether to grant a chimpanzee human status by allowing a human to become the chimpanzee’s legal guardian. Under existing law, only humans have a right to legal guardians. Read the article

Austria moves towards ban on ape experiments
CORDIS News, May 10, 2005 – An amendment to the law that would prohibit experiments on great apes is currently being considered in Austria. Such experiments are currently neither requested or approved in Austria, but Education, Science and Culture Minister Elisabeth Gehrer believes nonetheless that a change to the law is desirable as it will send a strong signal on the protection of animals in Austria, and will put the country in a ground-breaking position.

Austria Enacts Strict Animal Rights Laws
Associated Press, May 27, 2004 – Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel hailed the law as a “pioneering example” for the world on how to respect animals, and said he would press for similar legislation across the European Union. The measure had broad support among all four main parties in the National Assembly, where Minister of Social Affairs Herbert Haupt drew laughter by holding up a small stuffed toy dog while addressing lawmakers Thursday.

Balearic Islands

Balearic Islands Parliament Supports Legal Rights for Great Apes
The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, March 23, 2007 – The Parliament of the Balearic Islands (located in the western Mediterranean Sea near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula) has endorsed the Great Apes Proposal by approving a resolution granting apes the right to life, the right to freedom, and the right to be protected against torture. Read the article


Pets’ rights explored, Mar 7, 2007 – Every second Sunday, Cynthia Hanischuk’s seven-year-old French bulldog gets a poached egg. Tut eats fish three times a week and likes to sit at the table during dinner parties. “Tonight he’s going to have yam,” Hanischuk said, adding that he’ll even eat off a fork.


China Unveils First Ever Animal Cruelty Legislation
Telegraph, UK, September 18, 2009 – On September 18, 2009 the first legislation designed to protect animals was introduced in China. The legislation includes provisions protecting pets and covering how farm animals should be raised, transported and slaughtered. It also contains provisions to protect captive wildlife and laboratory animals. Read the article


Animal Protection Act of Croatia: The Animal Protection Act of Croatia became effective as of January 1st, 2007. The purpose of the act is to protect the life, healthy and welfare of animals. Regulations created by this new animal protection act include the introduction of an Ethical Committee and a Committee for Animal Protection, the banning of experiments for the purpose of research or development of ingredients or cosmetic testing, and the ban on conducting animal experiments in elementary and high schools.


Attorneys demand due process for Pacho the burro
Yahoo! News, March 9, 2005 – A burro named Pacho, held by police for three days after being involved in an accident with a drunken motorcyclist, unleashed a virulent debate in Colombia over the rights of animals to due process of law.

European Union

Animal Rights Party Claims Extra EU Seat
Dutch News, October 12, 2009 – The Animal rights party, PvdD, is claiming the extra seat which the Netherlands will get in the European parliament when the Lisbon treaty comes into effect, the NRC reports on Monday. However, the cabinet is insisting the extra seat can only be given to a party which already has representatives in Brussels, and that is Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration PVV. For more information, click here.

Brothers of Man – European Commission May Ban the Use of Great Apes
Economist, March 30, 2009 – No Great Apes have been used in Europe for scientific testing since 2002.  However, the European Commission is considering banning the use of Great Apes for scientific research by legislation. ThisEconomist article discusses the benefits of costs of banning Great Ape research.  The article notes that chimpanzees are the only animals, other than humans that can be used to study Hepatitis C, points out that less than 0.1% of research involving animals is conducted using primates and notes that it may be hypocritical to ban great ape research and subsequently use drugs developed using great apes. The article balances this interest against the welfare of the Great Apes which it notes can be approximately as intelligent as a two and a half year old human child.

EU Plans Ban on Animal Testing for Cosmetics
Deutche Welle
, January 16, 2003 – Starting in 2009, the majority of the tests conducted on animals to ensure the safety of cosmetic products — ranging from deodorant to hand cream and lip sticks — will be outlawed, with companies forced to use the alternative methods. For those remaining tests where no alternative has been developed yet, companies will be given a grace period until 2013. Read the article


Animals to get official status in French civil code
Agence France Presse, March 11, 2005 – Animals are for the first time to get an official status of their own under France’s 200 year-old civil code, in a move that reflects the country’s arrival from a rural to urban society. Justice Minister Dominique Perben this week approved the recommendation of an expert’s report that animals should be recognised to be “protected property, as living and sentient beings.” The change to the civil code — which is likely to go into law by the end of the year — will create for animals a third kind of property, alongside movable and immovable goods.


Animal protection amendment to the German constitution
European Biomedical Research Association, Winter, 2002 – In May 2002 the lower house of the German Parliament, the Bundestag, adopted a bill that would include animal protection in the national constitution. The bill was passed by a huge majority after more than 10 years of debate in political and animal welfare circles. The Bundesrat, the upper house, approved the bill in June, making Germany the first country in Europe to include animal welfare in its constitution.Read the article


EC Takes Greece to Court Over Animal Welfare Standards 
The Associated Press (Brussels), March 22, 2007 – The European Commission took Greece to court on Match 22, claiming that significant shortcomings continued to exist in the country’s animal welfare standards. A statement by the Commission declared, “[t]he standard of animal welfare in Greece remains below par and the necessary legislation has not been adequately implemented. Therefore, the Commission has no alternative but to refer the case to the Court of Justice.”


Animal rights group zeroes in on IISc, May 06 , 2006 – The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has come under attack by animal activists. After a verbal war over the unhygienic condition of animals in the institute campus for vivisection, animal rights activists of Do It Yourself Activism (diya), a Bangalore-based group, staged a protest, saying they are not being allowed to see the caged monkeys in the institute. Read the article


Knesset: Animals don’t have legal rights 
Haaretz, October 29, 2009 – The Knesset rejected a bill to change the name of the Animal Welfare Law to the Animal Rights Law. According to coalition members, the bill was rejected because Israeli law does not recognize animals as legal entities with rights. “The proposed law is based on the unacceptable premise that animals have rights,” Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi (Shas) told the Knesset. Margi said the government believes animals have the same legal status as inanimate entities such as corporations, ships, universities and cities. For the full story, click here.

Ministerial committee approves bill banning animal testing for cosmetics

Haaretz, Jan 28, 2007 – A bill banning animal testing for cosmetics and cleaning products was approved Sunday in the Knesset Ministerial Committee for Legislation. Following the decision, the bill will be brought Wednesday to the Knesset plenum for a preliminary reading. The current law allows the Council on Animal Experimentation to issue permits to cosmetics and detergent industries for conducting experiments which serve no medical purpose. Read the article

Israeli Government Rejects Proposed Increase Animal Testing Restrictions
The Jerusalem Post, Jan 15, 2007 – A proposed amendment to a bill proposed by Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar that would have seen new legislative action taken to prevent experimentation on animals for the purposes of testing cosmetic or cleaning products was rejected by the Knesset on Sunday morning. They were proposing to make the law stricter Chedva Vanvenvroucke, representative of the Jerusalem Society for Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. What gives us the right to take advantage of other creatures so that we can be more beautiful?” she asked angrily. “The face of a dog or a rabbit is not like my face. Read the article


Treat dogs like kids says court
ROME (ANSA), June 7, 2007 – Dogs should be looked after like children when people take them out for a walk or in the car, Italy’s Supreme Court said Tuesday. Ruling in the case of a drunk man who slammed his dog’s leash in his car door and dragged it for about a kilometre before realising the animal wasn’t in the vehicle, the Court said: “animals, whether led on the leash or transported in vehicles, demand the same care and attention that are normally paid to minors”.

Rome bans ‘cruel’ goldfish bowls
Reuters, October 25, 2005 – The city of Rome has banned goldfish bowls, which animal rights activists say are cruel, and has made regular dog-walks mandatory in the Italian capital, the town’s council said on Tuesday.


Spain may grant ‘rights’ to great apes
Monsters and, April 26, 2006 – Spain’s governing Socialist Party is promoting a controversial parliamentary initiative to grant rights to great apes on the basis of their resemblance to humans, news reports said Wednesday.


Swiss Voters Reject to Give Animals a Lawyer
New York Times, March 8, 2010
On Sunday, 70.5 percent of Swiss voters cast their ballots against a referendum to appoint lawyers to act on behalf of animals, according to the New York Times. The referendum was placed on the ballot after animal rights advocates gathered 144,000 signatures and would have required each of the country’s 26 cantons to appoint a lawyer to represent pets and barnyard animals in court in cases of alleged abuse. According to the article, key farmers’ groups, the government and other opponents of the proposal, argued that existing laws are sufficient and appointing special lawyers to act on behalf of animals would be unnecessarily expensive for taxpayers. However, animal rights advocates disagreed. They argued that Switzerland’s recently enacted laws requiring owners to give certain animals minimum amounts of space and socialization with other animals are not being adequately enforced.

To read the article, click here.

Switzerland’s Supreme Court Upholds Ban Prohibiting Neuroscience Research Projects Using Rhesus Macaques
Swisster, October 15, 2009
The Swiss Supreme Court, Switzerland’s highest court, has upheld a lower court decision against the Institute of Neuroinformatics, an institute jointly run by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich and the University of Zurich, that prohibited certain neuroscience experiments using rhesus macaques.

According to Kevan Martin, deputy head of the Institute, the research conducted by the Institute “was peer-reviewed by international scientists and was funded at the highest level by the Swiss national fund.” Martin maintains a change in the membership of Zurich’s animal protection commission – and the influence of animal rights groups – led to the initial ban by the Committee on Animal Experiments.

Commenting on the Supreme Court’s decision, Roman Klingler, a spokesman for ETH, stated it “would have negative consequences for the internationally acclaimed research in neurosciences that is being done both at the ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich.”

But Klingler cautioned that the reasons for the court’s ruling had yet to be released. “We have to wait and see the reasoning behind the Tribunal’s decision in order to fully understand what the consequences will be,” he said.

The case arose in 2006 after Zurich’s cantonal commission for the protection of animals objected to the experiments, claiming the expected benefits to society were not sufficient to justify the burden to the animals. The Committee on Animal Experiments agreed and prohibited the neuroscientists from continuing their research. In 2008 a Zurich administrative court upheld the Committee’s decision. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich and the University of Zurich appealed the decision to Switzerland’s Supreme Court.

To read the article, click here.

Swiss Primate Legislation Could End Some Brain Research
Scientific American  – September 2008. An order by the Committee on Animal Experiments, requiring 2 Swiss neuroscientists to cease their experiments on rhesus macaques, was upheld by a Zurich administrative court. The study was denied by the committee because the expected benefits to society were not sufficient to justify the burden to the animals. The administrative court also cited in part the macaque’s evolutionary proximity to humans and its cognitive abilities.Read the Article.

All Swiss animals are equal – but some more so than others
AFP - September 1, 2008.  Want to get rid of your goldfish? Swiss owners who have been flushing them down the toilet — still alive — must now find other methods since strict, new animal protection laws went into effect Monday. Instead, a fish must be first knocked out and then killed before its body can be disposed of, the law stipulates. The new legislation spells out in exhaustive detail how all domestic animals are to be treated, whether they be pets, farm animals or destined for scientific experiments. Read the Article

Little Bite In New Animal Protection Law, September 1, 2008. The new animal protection laws that recently came into force impose a six-hour limit for transporting livestock, have guidelines for the proper handling of dogs and cats and contain a ban on practices such as the castration of piglets without the use of anesthesia. However, Switzerland’s main animal rights groups claim the laws do not go far enough. Read the full story here.

New Swiss law protects rights of ‘social’ animals
Under a new Swiss law enshrining rights for animals, dog owners will require a qualification, anglers will take lessons in compassion and horses will go only in twos. Read the article

Campaign for animal advocates gathers pace, March 30, 2006 – The leading Swiss animal-welfare group has formally launched its proposal for legal representation for animals.

Parliament approves animal protection law
NZZ Online, December 14, 2005 – The Swiss parliament has passed a stricter law on animal protection which falls short of the demands of animal-rights campaigners. The new law aims to protect the dignity and well-being of animals. People who abandon animals, harm their dignity or abuse them will in future face prosecution.

Stiffer penalties demanded for animal abusers
NZZ Online, October 4, 2005 – Cruelty against animals needs to be punished more harshly according to animal protection advocates in Switzerland, who say that many cases go unreported. The Zurich-based Foundation for Animals and Law said on Monday that specialised lawyers were also needed to defend animal rights.

United Kingdom

Legal Battle to Ensue Over the Animal Scientific Procedures Act in the UK
Third Sector (a UK publication for non-profit information), March 14, 2007 – The British Union for the Abolition Vivisection (BUAV) alleges that the Home Office failed to enforce measures to protect research animals from substantial suffering. BUAV claims to have conducted a 10-month undercover investigation at Cambridge University and collected evidence that the Home Office has inadequately enforced the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act of 1986. Thus suit against the Home Office stems form the information gathered during the investigation and will come before the High Court on July 23, 2007.

Scottish pets to get charter of rights
UPI, January 31, 2006 – By July, dogs, cats and other domestic pets will have a 5-point charter guaranteeing animal rights under a bill moving through Scotland’s parliament. The bill would make it mandatory for pet owners to provide a suitable environment, a suitable diet, allow pets to exhibit normal behavior patterns, be housed with, or apart from, other animals and be protected from suffering, injury and disease.

Animal law will give pets their own ‘bill of rights’
The Telegraph, January 31, 2006 – Pets are to be given five “freedoms” under new legislation before Parliament that aims to raise the standards of welfare by fining or jailing owners who neglect their animals.

Government plans new rights for pets
Reuters, October 14, 2005 – The government launched a new bill to protect animals on Friday with measures that included banning children from buying pets. Ministers described the Animal Welfare Bill, which applies to England and Wales, as the most significant such legislation for nearly a century.

Life in a goldfish bowl earns protection from laws on animal rights
The Independent, March 4, 2005 – Their three-second memory means they are unlikely to remember whether they have been badly treated by their owners. But the humble goldfish is to be afforded new rights that could leave people who fail to cater for their pet fish’s needs – including changing their water regularly – facing prosecution.