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    Q: "HOW" to turn the ideas and goals into reality?


"Less pain is not the same as more pleasure" so giving a good "quality of life" requires people to take responsibility for the animal's pain AND its life experience of pleasure
The EU Platform on Animal Welfare is an interactive network which aims at promoting dialogue among competent authorities, businesses, civil society organisations and scientists on animal welfare issues

"This is about more than simply a respect for life, it's about respect for the life experience”.

OUR VISION is a world where all sentient animals in the care of people have a life experience that includes being protected from cruelty ("negative states") and being provided with opportunities to experience comfort, interests and pleasure ("positive states")

OUR MISSION is to see animal welfare legislation define sentience as "sentience means animals experience negative and positive [physical, mental, and emotional] states” and thereby add positive animal welfare law to the current duty of care which is currently limited to preventing cruelty.

OUR ESSENCE is that all animals should have a life enjoyed, not just endured.

3 words to future proof the law, policies and procedures governing the welfare of sentient animals on land and in the water
A law reform that shapes people's attitudes, responsibilities and behaviours today and tomorrow

SAL's position statements:

Yours, too?

We are many species, sharing one planet, and a connected future.

What affects animals, affects people in everything from our emotional connections through to our economic, environmental, and societal dependence on animals.

Animal law shapes people’s attitudes about animals, defines acceptable behaviours, and has the unique power to establish universal society-wide change despite contrasting and conflicting societal worldviews and interests.

Wherever animal protection law exists to protect animals from suffering, there is "implicit" legal recognition of animals as sentient (defined as “able to feel and experience”).

We recognise that as society’s rulebook, the law shapes attitudes and therefore behaviours toward animals and each other.

Law functions universally within its jurisdiction and establishes standards of care regarding animals. Therefore, with a view to implementing collective change, the law is an essential tool to achieving effective, universal, and meaningful change.

Outdated animal law perpetuates practices that are unfit for today’s society and undermines the initiatives of people and organisations targeting meaningful change. Referencing common knowledge that is validated by the science of the Five Domains, animal law requires a reform that retains and extends anti-cruelty law by adding positive animal welfare law to the current duty of care.

We believe that life should be enjoyed (e.g. include the experiences such as comfort, interest and pleasure), not just endured (e.g. minimising the amount of pain and suffering, preventing “animal cruelty”).  

Does this sound like you? Are you nodding your head in agreement as you read this? Then do join us in duplicating what's already been done in one jurisdiction, so that "it's the law" in ALL jurisdictions to give animals opportunities to have a life enjoyed.

Join us to give them a life worth living

"Nothing changes in practice unless you change the duty of care" so assess the duty of care as the pivotal keystone consideration of proposals, policies, and comparisons between each jurisdiction's applied animal law

Summarising the SAL strategy

With your vision, involvement and investment, we want to update the animal law rulebook to usher in an evolved legal standard of responsibility, care, and connection between animals and people.

SAL’s focus is on seeing primary legislation define “sentience” in a manner that distinctly, clearly and unequivocally applies responsibility for both negative AND positive states of animals. This reform would seamlessly extend the current duty of care within the established legal paradigm with “positive animal welfare law”.

Our strategy is based on finding SAL’s team, champions and affiliates then, as a team, collaborating with and assisting champions in NGOs, government, industry and other organisations who either are decision-makers, or who advise decision-makers, to update the current law with positive animal welfare law.

Our programmes aim to unlock even bigger collaborative changes that result in meaningful change for the sentient animal.

Our work is powered by a growing social movement of the public globally who, like you, are willing to stand up for a better world for animals, people, and the environment.

The doorway to the vision is already open as a consequence of one government showing that positive animal welfare in law is do-able and done. With your help, Sentient Animal Law believes in opening that door fully, and duplicating the work of the minority of legislative leadership to date in order to universally have a law that gives a life enjoyed not just to some animals, but to all sentient animals.

Key messages include:

  • Existing anti-cruelty law that protects animals from "feeling and experiencing" suffering already IMPLICITLY recognises animals as sentient ("capable of feeling and experiencing")
  • Sentience is the doorway, not the destination, to elevating standards of animal welfare because using the law to deliver meaningful change only occurs by shifting the duty of care.
  • Positive animal welfare extends the duty of care beyond just protecting animals from cruelty.

The SAL Foundation is co-founded by two lawyers who have specialist skills, experience, and insights in the subjects of animal law, public law, and law reform

Ian A. Robertson

Ian is a Barrister specialising in all aspects of animal law including animal welfare, biosecurity, food safety, and a wide range of criminal, civil and commercial matters involving animals.

Ian is the unusual combination of professions given that he began his career as a veterinarian. After nearly 15 years working hands-on as a clinical veterinarian in large and small animal practice, Ian was chosen by Fox Television to be one of a small group of presenters bringing stories about endangered species from around the world to the television screen. That's where he developed an interest in how the law did, and did not, work in protecting animal interests. When the contract with Fox finished, he returned to New Zealand, sold his veterinary practices, and headed off to law school with the specific intention of becoming an animal law legal expert.

He has spent many years working in animal welfare enforcement as a Prosecutor with the Ministry for Primary Industries in New Zealand, then as the State-wide Specialist with Compliance and Enforcement in Victoria, Australia. He left enforcement to work as a Barrister and works around the world advising on animal welfare matters, teaching the subject of animal law in universities, and publishing widely.

"Law currently benchmarks an animal's pain to determine what's necessary or cruel but doesn't factor in the animal's pleasure. Evolving that benchmark moves us all closer to the best of what I've seen of animals and people from my veterinary and legal careers".

That focus on a life enjoyed is evident in his personal life where his Bernese Mountain Dog "Hazel" joins in on his other loves of family, friends, motorbikes, travel, and then more travel with friends - preferably on the motorbikes. "Like people, what constitutes enjoyment also varies for animals. For Hazel, enjoyment includes sitting in the sidecar with goggles on and going for another adventure"". He adds, with a smile, "Perfect".

"As a vet', and now as a lawyer, my career has always been about looking after animals and people within what we call the human-animal relationship," he says. "A lot of people in the animal welfare space are aware of the "positive animal welfare" concept and related people-animal-planet issues involving sustainability, biodiversity, pollution and climate change. The thing about the Sentient Animal Law Foundation is that we know how the power of the law can be harnessed to meaningfully deliver on the hopes, plans and initiatives that, in turn, will see all sentient animals given a genuine quality of life experience, not just the lucky ones".

Dan Goldsworthy

Daniel Goldsworthy is admitted as an Australian Lawyer in the Supreme Court of Victoria and is an Associate Lecturer with Deakin Law School.

After working initially in legal practice as a solicitor in civil litigation, property and commercial law, Dan’s expertise and interests in matters of public law led him to pursue an academic career. He is a widely liked and recognised legal academic specialising in public law including constitutional law, administrative law, legal theory and public international law.

On top of teaching at Deakin Law School, and looking after his young family (comprising of a beautiful wife, one beautiful daughter, one ultra-friendly dog and four cats), he is also a doctoral candidate at the University of Melbourne.

He publishes widely in areas that include legal theory and jurisprudence, constitutional law and theory, public international law, animal welfare law, legal education, and sports law and regulation. He has distinguished himself as an academic, presenting at conferences both nationally and internationally in his chosen fields, and has been awarded for his writing on the intersection of legal education, technology and philosophy. He continues to serve on Australia’s Forestry Board and hold leadership roles in not-for-profit organisations and tribunals.

"It’s time for animal law to evolve,” says Dan. ”We need modern law for our modern post-covid world with its global sized risks, opportunities, and realities. And sentience’s “positive animal welfare law” is the doorway that will move people, governments, organisations, and the life experience of animals, forward to where we scientifically, and morally, know where it needs to be”.