For the Love of Bambi

Watching a cow being slaughtered by a man wielding a sledgehammer has horrified Australians this week. The fact that these cows are live Australian exports bloodies our hands and weighs heavily on our national conscience particularly, as we in the Central West know, our farmers take such good care of all their livestock. Yet the international live exportation of millions of these noble beasts continues as does Australia’s umbrage and determination to make laws to prevent it.

In the same news week, two Mexican teenagers are being lauded for their bullfighting prowess. One brother at age 11 had killed 6 bulls in one day… for sport. His younger brother, now 14 has officially become the youngest bullfighter ever. Australians flocking overseas for a taste of culture often sample bullfighting or the more reckless among us, may run with the bulls in Pamplona and souvenir a goring both unnecessary but well-deserved. My wife and I are shamefully no exception. We went to a Madrid bullfight, perhaps naively. It took minutes of horror unravelling, before my wife was sobbing uncontrollably and a bull had not yet been killed. Our fellow Spanish spectators watched her bewildered only to be more shocked when she started cheering for the goring of the matador. We didn’t stay long.

But where does my wife’s outrage and the national outcry in response to this inhumane treatment of animals come from? The concept of animal welfare and rights attaching to animals is strongly held in this country and is something that we should be proud of. It’s no surprise that there are laws to ensure the protection of animals in Australia and that these laws mirror the public’s conscience.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW) regulates the treatment of animals, rendering certain acts criminal offences and attaches harsh punishments for breaches. The Act prohibits a multitude of sins including; trap-shooting, game parks, animal baiting and fighting, firing, tail docking, tail nicking and to my wife’s pleasure; bullfighting.

Section 5 states that a person responsible for an animal must exercise reasonable care to prevent any act of cruelty upon the animal. Where pain is inflicted that person must take reasonable steps to alleviate the pain or provide the animal with veterinary treatment.

Section 7 stipulates the manner in which animals are to be transported, ensuring it is free from cruelty and unnecessary pain. This includes requiring a dog on the open back of a moving vehicle to be restrained or enclosed to prevent the dog falling from the vehicle.

It also provides for animals to be given fresh food, clean water and shelter. Confined animals are required to be exercised. They must not be tethered for an unreasonable length of time or by an unreasonably heavy or unreasonably short tether. Animals must not be abandoned.

A person shall not ride certain animals, if the animal is unfit for the purpose of being so ridden, driven, used, carried or conveyed. This may disappoint Game of Thrones fans hoping to see pig riding make a come-back.

We have no dancing bears in Australia. We have no teens being praised for murdering animals in the name of sport. We are a beef-loving nation but that which we eat has been come to an end by humane means, free of torture and cruelty, as it should be. We do not celebrate unnecessary violence or make sport of defenceless animals. We are not apathetic to inflicting pain on living beings. Why? That is simply un-Australian. That’s the law.

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