New legislation to enhance protection of animals against abuse

V tom se ani prase nevyzná

The Czech government has approved new legislation that will enhance the protection of animals against cruelty. The draft bill, which introduces a series of EU-wide measures fighting animal abuse, brings new rules for animal slaughter and for laboratory tests. It will also allow the police to fight animal abuse more efficiently.

The main motivation behind the new animal protection bill is that it will bring the respective Czech legislation fully in line with EU norms; in the Czech Republic, the number of animal abuse cases has been reported to be on the decline in recent years. But it does bring several important changes, some of which Prime Minister Petr Nečas described to reporters on Wednesday

“The bill introduces higher demands for the qualification of people who slaughter animals; it determines the rules for laboratory tests on animals, and it specifies the requirements for slaughtering animals for religious purposes.

“The legislation will make it possible to prohibit abusers from keeping animals, and allows the confiscation of abused animals, and it gives the police the right to enter private homes on suspicion of animal abuse.”

The last two points are of particular significance as they provide new tools for fighting animal abuse. Under the current legislation, the animals that are taken away from their abusive owners and placed in shelters, remain their property. With the new rules in place, however, owners will lose property rights to the animals which will facilitate, among other things, finding new owners for them. Also, the police will not need a search warrant to enter private homes on suspicion of animal abuse.

While the new measure might improve the protection of animals, some lawyers have pointed out the danger of them being abused, for example in disputes between neighbours. Kateřina Hlatká works for the human rights NGO Iuridicum Remedium.

“Violation of people’s privacy should correspond to the seriousness of the offence which is not always possible to prove in this case. At the same time, I think it could be misused within neighbours’ disputes, so there are some issues that I believe need to be addressed.”

Světlana Zvěřinová, photo: Czech Television
But Czech animal welfare organizations have welcomed the new legislation which promises to bring the number of animal abuse cases to even lower levels. Světlana Zvěřinová heads the Animal Protection Foundation.

“We feel quite positive about the draft bill but it’s at the very beginning of the legislative process. We’ll have to wait and see what happens when it gets to the lower house. The most important change in our opinion is the fact that the police will be able to enter people’s homes on suspicion of animal abuse which is not possible under the current law.”

The bill will now be put to both chambers of Parliament for approval before the president signs it into law.