Student - November 14, 2011

'Killing violates animal welfare'

Even swift and painless killing of animals violates their welfare. Ethician Tatjana Visak will put this view forward in a Studium Generale Animal Welfare Lectureship entitled 'Killing of animals' on 16 November at Van Hall Larenstein in Leeuwarden. Visak will be one of four speakers.

What is bad about dying? Do we hurt animals by killing them? Visak is referring to death as such, not about the methods of killing. Vasak: 'Some people find the death of an animal less awful because the animal does not have any notions of death and life, and lives only in the here and now.' To this, she adds marginal comments: 'This would imply that the death of a baby or a demented elderly person is of little consequence since they too know just as little about having a future.' From an ethician's point of view, death is the denial of future welfare. 'If you kill an animal, you deprive it of the chance to lead a good life and have the welfare it would otherwise receive.' This point of view makes Visak question humane slaughtering of animals. 'Of course, a good life is better for an animal than a bad one. But why should you allow them to be killed after a good life? No-one can give me a moral justification.'
Professor Elsbeth Stassen of Animal Sciences in Wageningen UR will talk about society's acceptance of the killing of animals. According to Stassen, surveys point out that a vast majority of the Dutch feel that animals too have a right to live. Animals in the Netherlands may be killed legally only under certain conditions: for production purposes (meat), when they are a danger to public health, in combating animal diseases (such as foot & mouth disease) and when they are suffering incurably. The law also stipulates how animals should be killed, which has to be swift and painless, and done by skilled professionals. And yet, the new Animal Legislation which will come into force in 2013 still has a grey area, argues Stassen. 'The law states, for example, that people have to take care of animals. If they fail to do this, an otherwise curable illness could lead to incurable suffering. And is it morally acceptable for us to put an end to 'excessive' domestic animals such as newly born kittens?'
Bert Lambooij of Livestock Research of Wageningen UR will talk about existing methods of killing animals. This is a very topical issue because the ministry is currently negotiating with the meat sector as to what method should be used in pig farms to kill piglets with little hopes of survival.   
Studium Generale's 'Killing of animals' will be held on 16 November in the VHL Auditorium, Agora 1 in Leeuwarden, from 13.15 to 15.15. Entrance is free-of-charge.

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