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Model Animal Welfare Act

– A Comprehensive Framework Law –

By Janice H. Cox, MBA, and Dr. iur. Sabine Lennkh


This Model Animal Welfare Act has been designed to serve as a basic template and guidance document for those interested in enacting new legislation or improving existing animal protection legislation. It has been drafted using an extensive comparative law exercise, taking into account ‘best practice’ in the field. Thus it is aspirational in nature; seeking to provide the best possible structures, systems and provisions to protect the welfare of animals. This may mean that countries which are just starting to establish animal welfare requirements might decide to introduce its provisions progressively. In such cases, a strategic approach (step-wise and prioritised) is recommended. This could also be considered in cases where countries already have structures, systems and provisions that have been introduced gradually over time, but remain less than optimal. The important principle is that each country works progressively towards the best possible protection for the welfare of its animal population, and indeed – as elaborated in the Three Rs approach – the eventual reduction and replacement of any uses of animals which compromise their welfare.

The purpose of this Model Animal Welfare Act is to function as an 'umbrella' or 'framework' law. Where a country has a federal system, it is recommended that it is introduced at national level (in preference to state, province or other regional levels). It represents an international unification and harmonisation of animal protection and welfare legislation, which can be adapted or modified – if the circumstances require – in Common Law as well as Civil Law systems. Elements of both legal orders have been considered and incorporated to achieve (as far as possible for the present day) a comprehensive, far-reaching and progressive approach to animal welfare legislation which takes account of the desired expedience when it comes to prevention of animal cruelty and abuse, establishing responsibility and the principle of care towards the animal, promoting the education and sensitisation of the population, as well as offering effective solutions for efficient law enforcement. This Model Act was created in order to govern people’s behaviour, while other civil or religious legal systems may take a very different form (for example, be limited to ‘codes’ or ‘edicts’). Nonetheless, elements of this Act can also be used for inspiration in creating, amending or interpreting these.

The Model Act is available on the website, in downloadable PDF format, or as a paperback book.

Disclaimer: The contents of this document do not constitute legal advice and are intended solely as general information and a reference. Use of this document in any manner does not at any time create an attorney-client relationship. As with any piece of model legislation, existing laws, regulations, or constitutional provisions may be impacted positively or negatively by the language in this Act, or may conflict with such provisions. Thus, to help ensure the greatest possible outcome for animals, if engaging in the actual drafting of legislation the language should be reviewed by local legal experts in consideration of the unique legal, political and social circumstances in each jurisdiction and adjusted accordingly.


Dr. iur. Sabine Lennkh

Sabine Lennkh studied Law at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany. She is a fully qualified lawyer and completed her Doctorate at the University of Salzburg, Austria, specialising in Comparative Law and Animal Welfare Legislation. Her thesis was titled ‘The Adaptation of European and Non-European Animal Welfare Law Models to the Seychelles’ and in an extended version subsequently also published as a book. For over 10 years Dr. Lennkh has been active in the field of animal welfare legislation and has attended a number of international conferences and workshops in this context. She comments on draft animal welfare laws and writes legal articles on the subject. The focus of her research is in the sphere of legal comparison within international animal welfare laws and the drafting of animal welfare legislation. While acting as Deputy Chair for the Seychelles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals she was able to learn about the challenges of applied animal protection. Currently Sabine Lennkh is a Legislative Advisor for World Animal Net (WAN).

Janice H. Cox, MBA

Janice Cox has been working in animal protection for over 25 years, since leaving a UK government career to concentrate on achieving the social change needed to improve the lives of animals. During this time she held a number of Director-level positions in international animal protection organisations; including European Director and International Legislative Advisor to the World Society for the Protection of Animals (now World Animal Protection); International Development Director for Compassion in World Farming; and Co-Founder and Director/Trustee of World Animal Net. Janice Cox has worked extensively on animal welfare policy and legislation, including involvement in Council of Europe animal welfare working groups, the European Union (Executive Committee Member of the Eurogroup for Animals and EU lobbyist on animal experimentation issues); working as a consultant for the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)’s Southern African Representation on the development of their Regional Animal Welfare Strategy; and Consultant for the Pan African Animal Welfare Alliance (including researching and drafting regional animal welfare strategies/action plans). In addition to legislative and policy work, Janice Cox has managed practical animal welfare programmes around the world, and so also brings practical experience of animal welfare issues to the project.


"Congratulations on such a complex and comprehensive work. I hope to have my students use it in class next semester." David Favre, J.D., Professor of Law, Michigan State University
"WAN’s Model Act is a major contribution to the advance of animal protection, not only by providing a practical template for new legislation in countries with relatively little experience in the field, but also by highlighting the fundamental weaknesses in countries, like the UK, that purport to have high standards." Dan Lyons, Centre for Animals and Social Justice (for complete review visit here).
"By using 'a comparative analysis of the best available legislative models, precedents and advice,' as well as 'taking into account international standards and rules, and current knowledge based on animal welfare science and practical experience,' the authors provide an extensive example of what animal welfare law could look like ... For animal advocates, the Model Animal Welfare Act provides a great deal of interesting material and is well worth reading, considering, and debating." Faunalytics (for full summary visit here).
"In all the years I have been working for Animal Welfare, the Model Animal Welfare Act is the biggest, most positive step I have ever seen towards protecting Animal Rights. In countries that do not have laws to protect animals from abuse like Egypt, my country, this Act is a miracle. Without it we would have spent years to write a good law and finding a lawyer who could write a complete and strong law for animal protection. In Egypt we only have five or six laws concerning this subject. So, even if we found the best lawyer he would not be able to write a complete and comprehensive law, because animal welfare is a new concept in Egypt and Egyptian lawyers would not be able to create laws without adequate references. I am so happy to finally have a law to protect Egyptian animals, and I feel that this law is much more important than building 100 shelters, because with a strong and comprehensive modern law we can save all the animals. I don't know how to thank the great animal welfare professionals Janice Cox and Dr. Sabine Lennkh - with this act you have saved the animals of Egypt. God bless you both. Now it is our duty and mission to implement this law and submit it to the Egyptian Parliament." Amina Abaza Egyptian Minister for Animal Welfare and Environment in the Women's Government of Egypt and S.P.A.R.E Founder and Chairperson
“We commend the commitment to animal welfare demonstrated by the extensive time and effort that must have been associated with such an undertaking and the resulting product will no doubt serve as a useful tool for the consideration of some countries undertaking to introduce or revise legislation." Dr. Vallat, former Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
“This document manages to be readable while delivering comprehensive and detailed content. While it is definitely “how to” regarding the development of animal welfare policy and legislation, I found many of the lessons transferable to other areas of policy-making as well. Really well put together and thoroughly thought out, the WAN Model Animal Welfare Act is a useful tool that I will keep referring back to.” Shakira Eicher, Assistant Director, Policy and Strategy Unit, Department of the Premier, Western Cape Government, South Africa
"It is a document that speaks with a jurisprudential voice for those born to suffer at the hands of humans. The ideas and ethos that unfolds throughout the pages are borne of prescience with a vision as rare as love and raw as truth. Given the amount of effort and time that the 'Model' demanded, it was unquestionably a worthwhile project which in time will reap the true rewards of the endeavour. For more than merely a document for discussion, it is the lodestar for our law." Noël Sweeney, LL.B Dip. Crim. I M.A., author of Animals-in-Law and Dogs of Law
“This is a very strong document and I have no doubt it will be used by campaigners around the world in their government engagement. In order to protect animals globally, strong institutions and mandates need to be clear in legislation. Working with World Animal Net’s model legislation, is the step in the right direction and I am happy to have contributed to it.” Ricardo Fajardo, Head of Global External Affairs, World Animal Protection
"This is wonderful, what a great initiative and one that ties in so well with World Animal Day." Caroline Ruane, Chief Executive, Naturewatch Foundation and World Animal Day
"How refreshing to read the WAN Model Animal Welfare Act, an excellent, comprehensive document, written in an easy-to-understand style, without the use of unnecessary complex and seemingly ambiguous terminology. This 'Bible' will enable groups around the world to confidently approach decision makers, with informed proposals and recommendations for animal welfare legislation in their respective countries. The authors have done a great job - a most valuable resource tool."Joy Leney, former International Projects Director, WSPA (now World Animal Protection)
"NOW we will move ahead!" Liz Komen, Namibia Animal Rehabilitation Research and Education Center


World Animal Net would like to thank the following individuals and organisations for kindly reviewing the Model Animal Welfare Act, and providing valuable comments and suggestions for its improvement. We greatly appreciate the generous sharing of your considerable expertise and experience in this field.

Akisha Townsend Eaton, Esq., Senior Policy and Legal Resource Advisor, World Animal Net.
Amanda S. Whitfort BA (Hons)/LLB (Monash)/LLM (London), Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong.
Dr. Antoine Goetschel, President of the GAL Project; & Sabine Brels, Manager of the GAL Project.
Carney Anne Nasser, Esq., Legislative Counsel, Animal Legal Defense Fund.
David Favre, J.D., Professor of Animal Law, Michigan State University, Editor-in-Chief of Animal Legal & Historical Web Center.
Emmanuel Giuffre, Legal Counsel of Voiceless, the animal protection institute.
Jordi Casamitjana, Campaigns and Enforcement Manager of IFAW UK, BSc (Hons) Zoology.
Dr. Nick Palmer, Director of Policy, Cruelty Free International.
Drs. Noor Evertsen, Editor of the annual ‘Teksten Wetgeving Dierenwelzijn’ (Dutch animal welfare laws with an introduction) and Researcher and Consultant in Animal Law at Dier & Recht (Law & Justice for Animals).
Peter Stevenson, Chief Policy Advisor, Compassion in World Farming, Solicitor.
Ricardo Fajardo, Head of Policy and Advocacy at World Animal Protection, Colombian solicitor and author of the book El Derecho de los Animales (“Animal Law”), 2007.
Roly Owers, MRCVS, Chief Executive, World Horse Welfare.
Sarah Murphy, Consultant to World Animal Protection, Solicitor.

Web/Print Designer: Jessica Bridgers, M.S., International Communications Coordinator, World Animal Net.
Copy Editor: Amy Chin, World Animal Net.

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