Just four countries – New Zealand, the UK, Switzerland and Austria – follow animal welfare standards are deemed worthy of the highest ‘A’ rating in the Animal Protection Index issued earlier this month by the UK-based World Animal Protection (WAP) organization.
WAP’s overall rankings are based on a wide range of indicators relating not only to farm animals, but also to animals in captivity, pets and animals used in scientific research, according to a press release from the Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand (PIANZ).
The Animal Protection Index findings are presented on the WAP interactive website. The index assesses standards, policies and legislation in some 50 countries around the world.
Animal protection rankings are made from A = highest, to G = lowest.
How other countries fared
Narrowly behind the four world leaders is a second group that includes some of the EU’s largest meat-producing countries, including Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, where animal welfare issues are given high priority by government. Standards in Chile, South America’s top-ranked nation, are considered to be on a par with these EU member states.
The third ranked group includes a number of countries in southern Europe, including France, Spain and Italy, where EU regulations on animal welfare have not always been implemented in a timely manner. These countries are given the same ‘C’ rating as Australia, Brazil and India – three of the world’s largest livestock producers.
North America’s ‘D’ ranking in the index puts it alongside Kenya, South Africa, Columbia, Peru and other countries with much lower GDPs. Next in the rankings come the US, Mexico and Canada – whose relatively poor position on the index is already generating debate.
China, Russia, Egypt and Vietnam are ranked even lower – with lack of resources making animal welfare down the list of government priorities in these countries. Countries like Belarus, Iran and Azerbaijan are given the poorest possible ‘G’ ranking as specific legislation on animal welfare is almost entirely absent in these nations.
WAP says the index shows a large number of countries are still missing the basic legal frameworks needed to protect animals.
“The results of the index speak for themselves – governments must take action to protect animals and to recognize that the welfare of animals is inextricably linked to people’s health,” said WAP chief executive Mike Baker.