Like humans, animals have rights. The Animal Welfare Act was signed into law in the US in 1966. It regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. Other countries have rules and regulations too. And some places have stricter and broader policies and guidelines than other nations. Here are 8 animal welfare acts around the world that teaches us to be more responsible pet owners:

1. The Austrian Animal Welfare Act 2004 equates the importance of animal life to that of human life

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Many consider Austria as one of the best when it comes to animal rights. Their anti-cruelty laws enforce that the well-being of animals should be held equal to humans. These laws impose harsh penalties for pet owners and farmers that mutilate or do not provide safe spaces for animals. Selling puppies and kittens in pet shows has also been banned.

2. Switzerland became the first country with a provision to protect animals’ dignity

The Swiss are leaders in improving the living and working conditions of animals. In 1922, they became the first country to grant animals a provision that will protect their dignity. Activities that are deemed degrading are forbidden there by law. Citizens are even required to attend classes to learn to be caring and responsible pet owners.

3. United Kingdom’s Animal Welfare legislation has a strict penalty of a 51-week jail term for cruelty and negligence of animals

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The UK might be polite and polished, but they take their punishments for the cruelty and negligence of animals quite seriously. This includes a lifetime ban from purchasing and owning pets as well as a 51-week max jail time, plus fines amounting to £20,000.

4. In Germany, animals are protected by the Constitution

“The state takes responsibility for protecting the natural foundations of life and animals in the interest of future generations” is written in the German Constitution. Germany is the first country in the EU to provide constitutional protection for creatures.

5. The Netherlands prohibits the use of great apes for experiments as well as testing cosmetics
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Animals have been used as test subjects for all kinds of products. The Netherlands’ Animal Welfare Act features anti-cruelty and care provisions that also include farm animals. EU Animal Welfare Rules ban the use of great apes for experiments as well as testing cosmetics on animals.

6. Sweden grants legal protection to her animals – both, wild and domestic

There are very strict rules and processes to follow before one can slaughter a domestic animal in Sweden. The Swedish government has given animals an enriched environment to live in. Cattle and pigs must be fed straw and should be allowed to venture out for grazing in the summer.

7. Animal protection laws in Denmark don’t allow the slaughtering of animals
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In Denmark, recent amendments in their animal welfare laws declared that the live slaughtering of animals for religious purposes is not allowed. Their welfare act also has specific provisions for farm animals.

8. A fine of 200,000 dollars is imposed for violating animal protection laws in Hong Kong

Over in Hong Kong, the government has strict laws for the welfare of food animals, companion animals, and laboratory animals. Anyone who gets caught inflicting cruelty in the form of abuse, neglect, fighting, etc. is liable to a fine of 200,000 Hong Kong dollars and imprisonment for three years.

If you witness cruelty and other activities violating the Animal Welfare Act, call your local animal control agency or dial 9-1-1.