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Animal Law Forum 2014

UHD Hosts Animal Law Forum and Signs an MOU on Academic Exchanges with Northwest China University of Law and Politics

“Animal cruelty is not a problem unique to any country,” Dr. Peter Li of UHD said. “It is a global challenge,” he continued. Since the US and China occupy influential positions in the world, progress in animal protection in both countries has significance that transcends the American and Chinese boundaries. “This was why we pulled together American and Chinese legal experts, law enforcement officials and activists,” added Sun Jiang, a visiting scholar at UHD from Northwest China University of Law and Politics.

Both the US and China face similar challenges in legislating animal protection. Chris Green, a lawyer from San Francisco, pointed out in his presentation that animal protection law-making in the US has not been linear. The progress made so far has been part of humans’ efforts to adapt to the changes in their lives. “Urbanization and increased mobility have both contributed to the importance of companion animals to their owners who need to cope with the loss of their traditional support system,” he said. And this life adjustment calls for legal or legislative change. In the US, animal protection legislations have therefore been enacted and enforced to balance the interest of the humans and those of the nonhuman animals. “The single-child generation in China is already seeking emotional support from companion animals and this phenomenon will surely encourage people to pay attention to the welfare of other animals,” he continued.

Echoing Green’s observation, Professor Sun Jiang saw hope in China’s progress in animal protection efforts. Legislation to regulate human-animal relations in China, in his opinion, cannot be postponed any more. As a member of the drafting committee of China’s scholarly proposal on animal protection law, Sun saw legislative experiences in Hong Kong and Taiwan, international exchanges on animal protection, increasing activism of the animal protection community, and Chinese government’s own initiatives were important factors that would contribute to positive policy-change on the Chinese mainland.

Other scholars addressed specific legal issues that interested the attendees. Master Chang Hui, founder of the Hebei Buddhist Charity Foundation, called on the Chinese authorities to intervene in Yulin’s dog meat festival in the interest of public health, food safety and China’s moral progress. Fran Ortiz, a law professor from South Texas College of Law, reminded the audience that the US has a lot to improve in protecting animals used in experimentation. She pointed out that animal tests in the US succumbs some 25 million animals to brutal and unnecessary tests. It is time that the US and the rest of the world consider moving to non-animal alternative tests. Other scholars also made strong cases in their presentation against concentrated animal feeding operations (Joyce Tischler); for enhancing owner responsibility as a way of animal protection (Sun Yuhong); for protection-oriented wildlife legislation (Chen Xiaojing); and for using special prosecutors to get animal abusers prosecuted (Jessica Milligan).

The forum was part of the exchange programs between UHD and Northwest University of Law and Politics in China.