Why are humans the only sane animals?

The Animal Welfare Act aims "... out of the responsibility of humans for animals as fellow creatures, to protect their life and well-being. Nobody may inflict pain, suffering or harm on an animal without a reasonable reason" (§ 1 TierSchG, principle). Animal owners must ensure that the animal is nourished, cared for and housed in accordance with its species and needs and that it can move around according to its species (§§ 2, 2a).

In principle, all animals, including invertebrates, are covered by the protection of the Animal Welfare Act. However, the legislature has protected different groups or classes of animals to different degrees in certain contexts. Most of the individual provisions apply only to vertebrates.

Approval and permission reservation

The Animal Welfare Act is systematically part of administrative law. Accordingly, in many cases the use of animals is subject to a permit and permit reservation. These include, for example, the approval of animal experiments (Section 8) or the reservation of permission for the commercial breeding, keeping or trading of animals (Section 11).

So if you want to trade in pets, for example, you need permission from the authorities. Anyone who wants to keep animals in an animal shelter or similar facilities must also apply to the authorities for a permit. If the applicant fulfills the requirements specified in Section 11, the authority must grant him approval. Approvals and permits can be subject to conditions.

In addition, the Animal Welfare Act provides for individual bans with which acts contrary to animal welfare are to be prevented. In particular, the so-called prohibition paragraph 3 should be mentioned here. According to this, it is forbidden, for example, to abandon an animal or to "require an animal, except in emergencies, to perform which it is unable to cope with or which is beyond its strength". Further individual bans can be found in Section 11b (1) and (2), Section 12 (1) and Section 13.

The only criminal provision of the Animal Welfare Act can be found in Section 17. It is intended to punish behavior contrary to animal welfare. The unjustified killing of animals and the brutal and torturous abuse of animals are considered criminal offenses. The intentional and complete cruelty to animals is punished with imprisonment of up to three years or a fine.

Article 18 is also part of the animal protection law, which classifies certain intentional or negligent animal protection offenses as administrative offenses and punishes them with fines of up to 25,000 euros.

In both cases, the tortured animal can be confiscated and animal keeping bans can be imposed.

Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act

The implementation of the Animal Welfare Act is carried out by the federal states or the competent state authorities. According to § 16a TierSchG, they can take measures to enforce animal welfare regulations. The spectrum ranges from requirements to improve animal husbandry to the removal of neglected animals. Some state governments publish animal welfare reports in which they present the development of animal welfare in the country from their point of view. The reports are then usually available on the websites of the state governments.

Insufficient animal protection law

The bottom line is that the Animal Welfare Act and its implementation have significant shortcomings. On the one hand, the provisions of the law and subordinate regulations are often incomplete, in need of interpretation, that is, unclear or the protection afforded to the animals is simply not sufficient to ensure their well-being.

In addition, it is possible to report conditions contrary to animal welfare to the authorities / police and to ask them to intervene. However, animal rights activists do not have a possibility to enforce the provisions of the law directly in court. If the authorities do not intervene, the animals remain defenseless. Therefore we demand a collective right of action in animal welfare.

Even after the amendment to the Animal Welfare Act - which the Bundestag passed in 2012 and which came into force on July 13th - it remains more of an "Animal Use Act": the originally planned thigh burn ban on horses has been canceled, and the non-anesthetized castration of piglets is to continue until 2019 The leeway offered by the EU Animal Experiments Directive was also not used. The draft law neither stipulates the promotion of alternative methods to animal experiments, nor is there a consistent ban on experiments on great apes.