Animal welfare

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As animal welfare all activities of the people referred to that aim at animals a species-appropriate to allow life without infliction of suffering, pain, damage and unnecessary disturbances. Animal welfare aims at the individual animal and its integrity. In contrast to the advocates of animal rights , who in some cases reject any use of animals by humans, in animal protection law and its associated regulations the focus is on the proper and species-appropriate keeping, handling and use of animals by humans. Animal welfare is largely limited to the protection of vertebrates .

Historical background of animal welfare

Animal welfare and religion

In the early cultures of mankind (for example in ancient Egypt ) and among so-called primitive peoples , one finds a more or less pronounced veneration of animals . For example, the ancient Egyptians were aware of the common origins of animals and humans in creation. This was also expressed in their portrayal of gods: most of the Egyptian gods were depicted with human bodies and animal heads.

In Asian religions such as Hinduism , Jainism and Buddhism , certain animals have a special position, especially with regard to the idea of ​​reincarnation. In this context, cows are considered inviolable in Hinduism. And since man can be reborn as an animal under certain circumstances, the embodiment of the human soul in an animal plays a very formative role. In Jainism, the idea of ​​animal protection goes so far that all of its believers are vegan .

Jewish animal welfare - with its prohibition of cruelty to animals (Tza`ar ba`alei chayim) already anchored in the Torah and with the formulation of animal rights such as Sabbath rest for animals, the responsibility of the animal owner for the animal even on the day of rest - is the basis of the argument by Hanna Rheinz : She explains the slaughtering , the Shechita (the anesthetized Jewish slaughter) and the animal sacrifice in the temple as an exception to the ban on killing, which originally also applied to animals. In addition to the ethics of compassion, which is also rooted in Judaism, the focus is not on the arbitrary and species-selective compassion, but on the legal claim of the animal anchored in the Jewish religious law.

As for Judaism, the statements of the Old Testament also apply to Christianity. One difference, however, is that Christ abolished the animal sacrifice and replaced it with the sacrifice of wine and bread. Individual theologians have understood this as a form of ethics of responsibility. The Württemberg, from pietism embossed Pastor Christian Adam Then (1758-1837) established his commitment to the tortured animals so that they are the creatures are human and just as loved as such by God. A person who tortures animals cannot love God and his fellow men. Among other things, he referred to Prov 12,10  LUT : "The righteous have mercy on his cattle, but the heart of the wicked is merciless". His friend, the song writer and pastor Albert Knapp , founded one of the first animal protection associations in Germany a few months after Dann's death .

Albert Schweitzer represented the concept of "reverence for life". As a core sentence of his view the statement became popular: “I am life that wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live.” From this it followed for Schweitzer that the principles of ethics do not end at the species boundary between humans and animals, but humans is committed to ethical behavior towards all of creation. For him, this also meant, among other things, that killing animals for human nutrition was not permitted. Karl Barth , who tended to reject Schweitzer's theology, warned against dismissing Schweitzer's views as “sentimental”: “How do you justify yourself if you think differently from what Schweitzer [...] wants from you?” There is a similar argument with Fritz Blankes ethics of fellow creature and more recently with Eugen Drewermann .

The protection of animals and nature was anchored on a broader basis in the Christian consciousness in the “ Conciliar Process for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation”, a movement that began in 1983 in Vancouver at the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches ( World Council of Churches ). The World Ecumenical Assembly in Seoul in 1990 formulated ten basic convictions as the final document. Conviction VII says: “God, the Creator, is the origin and sustainer of the whole cosmos. God loves creation [...] Since creation is from God and his goodness permeates all creation, we should keep all life sacred. ”This conviction has since inspired thinking and acting in many church communities with regard to animal welfare.

In Islam there is a view of animals similar to that in the Old Testament. So it says in sura 40 , verse 79 and 80: “It is God who made the herd animals for you so that you can ride on them, and you can also eat from them ... and that you can satisfy every need through them want that may be in your hearts. "

Philosophical arguments for animal welfare

In ancient times, the idea of ​​animal welfare was first associated with the demand for a vegetarian way of life , for example with Pythagoras and Plutarch . In Roman law , on the other hand, animals were considered things , a concept that extends into the present day.

The naturalism broke with the Aristotelian-Scholastic worldview of the church and demanded a methodical, rational access to natural phenomena. René Descartes (1596–1650) came to the conclusion from the "celestial mechanics" of Nicolaus Copernicus proven by Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) that comparable laws must apply to all of nature. For him, humans were part of nature and differed from animals solely through language and reason.

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) argued: Animals […] "because they lack the ability to think and freedom, cannot recognize this law, […] but because of the sensitivity with which they are gifted, they have something in common with our nature, [...] they also have to participate in natural law and [...] man is subject to a certain kind of duties towards them. "

With Immanuel Kant , the protection of animals from cruel treatment is embedded in his concept of duties, since cruelty towards animals dulls human compassion and thereby destroys a disposition that serves his morality. The modern discussion on animal welfare often ties in with naturalistic positions, whereby it is then disputed where the line between the permissible use of animals and cruelty that is morally reprehensible runs.

In Arthur Schopenhauer , the idea finds animal rights : "The world is not a piece of work, and the animals are not a brand for our use. We owe animals not mercy, but justice. ”Schopenhauer's statements are determined by a fundamental anti-Judaism . He explains, "The supposed lawlessness of animals ... that there are no duties towards animals is downright an outrageous brutality and barbarism of the Occident, the source of which lies in Judaism ."

Animal welfare in modern times

With industrialization and the associated mechanization of animal husbandry, the extensive use of animals in agriculture, handicrafts and industry as well as in the military, animal protection movements and organizations emerged in the 19th century.

The modern legal animal welfare and the development of the corresponding animal welfare law began in 1822 with the first passed animal welfare law in England and protected horses, sheep and cattle from abuse. It came about on the initiative of the parliamentarian Richard Martin, who was then nicknamed Humanity Dick . Together with others, he was also one of the founding members of the world's first animal welfare organization, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) , which was launched two years later. After the Society had received the blessing of then Queen Victoria in 1840 , it was henceforth allowed to call itself the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and achieved significant influence. At the same time, Marie Espérance von Schwartz campaigned across Europe for a commitment against animal testing.

In Germany, on the other hand, animal welfare was a politically unrecognized concern during the Empire, even if Richard Wagner , for example, had been very active in promoting it in an open letter in 1879. Animal welfare in Germany was ethnic, anti-Semitic and set against modern industrial society, slaughter and vivisection were insulted as the expression and basis of "Jewish medicine". This history makes animal welfare concerns problematic in German Jewry to this day. Conversely, the special, thoroughly intimate relationship between Judaism and nature meets with disinterest and anti-Judaist reservations in German animal welfare organizations. In addition to the animal welfare associations that had been established in the big cities since the 1870s, clergymen and school pedagogues influenced by Pietism began to advertise a growing understanding of animal welfare with moral flyers, lectures and writings in the popular educational style. Animal welfare calendars and animal welfare primers were put into circulation by the Berlin Animal Welfare Association and the German Teacher Animal Welfare Association .

Initiative for a ban on slaughter in 1891: Northern German-speaking Switzerland approves the ban, Latin Switzerland rejects it.

In Switzerland, the first animal protection association based on the English model was established in Bern in 1843, and the Swiss Central Association for the Protection of Animals was founded in 1861 . In 1854, the Swiss canton of Aargau banned the killing of cattle with head blows, with the exception of Lengnau and Endingen , the only Swiss communities where Jews were allowed to settle. With the adopted federal popular initiative "Ban on slaughter without prior stunning" in 1891, slaughter was banned. The proportion of yes votes was higher in the German-speaking cantons due to historical anti-Semitism (e.g. 90.1% yes proportion in the canton of Aargau). In contrast, the initiative in Latin Switzerland , where both anti-Semitism and animal welfare met with less response, was clearly rejected (e.g. 3.1% yes-share in the canton of Valais ).

In Germany, the animal protection movement in the empire tried unsuccessfully to tighten the then very animal experiment-friendly legislation, a concern that was taken up by the Nazi regime and implemented immediately after 1933 with great propaganda effort. The animal protection legislation of the Nazi regime was adopted in both German states after 1945. During the reform of the Animal Welfare Act in the West in 1972 - for example in the person of Albert Lorz, Vice-President of the Bavarian Supreme Regional Court a. D. - also closely involved lawyers who had already participated in the Reich Animal Protection Act in the 1930s .

In the first half of the 20th century, automobiles ousted horse-drawn carriages from the streets. However, there were relapses, especially after World War II. Many coachmen in the destroyed Berlin in 1945 were former drivers who could not handle horses and who abused them. That led to open criticism.

Since the 1980s, right-wing extremists in Germany have increasingly taken up animal protection issues under National Socialism , often in connection with anti-Islamic propaganda, anti-globalism and anti-Semitism.

From the 1990s onwards some German states led the functioning of the country's animal welfare officer one, first Hessen in 1992. The place is a kind of contact and "lawyer" in animal welfare issues, both professionally and politically independent and has - as usual in the way officers - no "official Competence".

Animal welfare was enshrined in the Swiss Federal Constitution in 1973 (today Art. 80 BV). In 1978 the Animal Welfare Act (TSchG) followed, which came into force with the Animal Welfare Ordinance of 1981 and has since been revised several times.

In Germany animal protection has meanwhile been included as a national goal in the Basic Law and in 2004 also in the draft of the EU constitution : “In the definition and implementation of the Union's policy in the areas of agriculture, fishing, transport, the internal market, research, technological development and space, the Union and the Member States take full account of the needs of animal welfare as sentient beings; In doing so, they take into account the legal and administrative regulations and the customs of the Member States, in particular with regard to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage. "

In many countries, such as China, however, there is still no animal protection law. In China, animals play a role as suppliers of raw materials for traditional Chinese medicine . B. maintain bear farms in which thousands of animals are kept in narrow cages for the production and marketing of bile products (see Asiatic black bear ). In addition, fur farming in China has expanded considerably in recent decades.

With the emergence of the animal rights movement in the 1970s, which was inspired by the works of the philosophers Peter Singer and Tom Regan , there was a split into a (traditional) animal rights movement and a (more radical) animal rights movement, which continues to this day. While animal rights activists, such as the honorary president of the German Animal Welfare Association, Wolfgang Apel , accused animal rights activists of de facto doing the animals a disservice by exaggerated demands , animal rights activists criticize animal rights activists for representing the interests of animals only half-heartedly and inconsistently.

In this context, Helmut F. Kaplan even speaks of an "animal protection lie" and means by it the "belittling of fundamental problems to quantity problems." Examples of this are the demand for fewer animal experiments or less meat consumption: "Instead of saying, It is said that it is wrong to torture and kill animals, that it is wrong to torture and kill too many animals. ”Of course, Kaplan said, eating less meat is better for animals. "But better just in the sense that less rape, less torture and fewer executions are better." The demand for a reduction in crimes must consequently be combined with the demand for their abolition.

Most recently, in 2016 consumer advocates in Germany called for a uniform national animal welfare logo so that customers can decide for themselves when buying meat in the supermarket whether they value high animal welfare, species-appropriate standards. The many previous seals are too unknown. According to a survey by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, almost two thirds of German citizens are willing to pay more for reliably higher standards.

In 2016, the hunt or disappearance of lynxes, among others, which are among the most strictly protected animal species, was criticized, with particular reference to the practically non-existent clearance rate for these nature conservation offenses.

In recent years there has been increasing discussion in the animal rights movement and in the philosophical sub-area of ​​animal ethics about whether the suffering of animals in the wild counts morally and whether people are obliged to do something about it for animal welfare reasons if they are able to do so.

Practical animal welfare

Animal welfare and agriculture

livestock farming

From the point of view of many animal welfare organizations, animal welfare-friendly farming should be based on the biological characteristics and needs of the respective animal species. Social animals should be kept in appropriate groups, with species-appropriate employment opportunities and enough space for movement. In relation to the interests of agriculture , in which the conditions of breeding, keeping, nutrition, transport and slaughter are based on economic necessity, there are conflicts of considerations regarding animal welfare.

Animal transport and slaughter

Shafts, depiction from the 15th century

A maximum time of eight hours is permitted for animal transports within Germany; there is no time limit for animal transports abroad if regular intermediate stops are observed. EU subsidies for exports of live animals are still promoting transport across Europe. In Switzerland, the new animal protection law stipulates a maximum time of six hours. The Swiss kagfreiland label allows a maximum of one hour.

Animals should be slaughtered under prior anesthesia and without unnecessary pain and suffering. This is difficult to guarantee when slaughtering by piece. The anesthetic-free shafts , which require a special permit in Germany, led to special discussions .

Breeding of fur animals

Advertisement for fur farming as an investment (1933)

Animal rights activists argue that many animal species kept as fur animals such as the American mink , fox , chinchilla , raccoon and nutria are unsuitable for the cage-keeping practiced in fur farms and suffered from behavioral disorders and physical damage under these conditions.

Animal welfare organizations regularly discuss practices that are cruel to animals and hygienically unacceptable conditions in individual countries or with individual fur animal owners, also in order to enforce tightened legal provisions and bans. The seal hunting and trapping , as well as in attracting the so-called Persian lamb skins from slaughtered immediately after birth Karakullämmern was massive already in the 20th and 19th centuries the subject of animal welfare campaigns.

Animal welfare in relation to hunting and fishing


If animal rights activists do not generally reject the hunt , they demand - in agreement with the ecological hunting associations  - a renewal of the Federal Hunting Act in order to take into account current demands of species and animal protection. The current hunting law is based on the Reichsjagdgesetz from 1934, which at that time was drawn up in close cooperation and with reference to species and animal protection elements. The animal welfare aspect is a central component of the indeterminate legal term of hunting justice , which has entered into the hunting laws in Germany , which, according to the German Hunting Association , has as its object "the hunter's attitude towards the animal as a fellow creature that has to be spared avoidable pain." Hunters have an additional interest in animal welfare, especially with regard to game rescue , i.e. measures to protect game when mowing agricultural land, e.g. B. of fawns and often stand in conflict with the farmers involved.

Fishing and whaling

A common criticism of fishing with nets is that the fish suffocate in agony and that, in addition to the fish used for human food and livestock, additional marine life is killed as bycatch . Trawling is a big problem because of the nets that are often many kilometers long and that often reach the sea floor and here, in addition to the animals that are to be caught, also capture tons of other creatures. These are then sorted out and mostly thrown back dead into the sea. Mammals such as whales and dolphins suffocate if they get caught in the nets underwater or if they swallow plastic waste . When fishing for tuna, technical precautions must now be taken to protect the dolphins, which were massively killed in the past.

When opposed to whaling, these large marine mammals are also said to have a high level of intelligence and highly developed social behavior, which makes hunting these animals ethically problematic. Critics consider this to be speciesistic , since, for example, in pigs and rats opposing whaling, comparable activities can hardly be found, although these animals are much more human-like.

Pet ownership

Keeping European tortoises not in accordance with the Austrian Animal Welfare Act
Cat from the Bochum animal shelter

Various animal welfare problems can arise when keeping pets. Apart from the obvious cases - willful cruelty to animals, abandoning animals, gross neglect - inappropriate husbandry plays a major role. Even if domesticated and domesticable animals are well adapted to life with humans, they have minimum requirements in terms of their keeping conditions: in addition to species-appropriate nutrition, above all, sufficient opportunities for exercise and employment.

In addition to not keeping animals appropriately, there can be massive cruelty to animals through ignorance and gross misconduct. A typical example are rabbits (which for many people look cute and harmless) : Since they are very territorial and pack-related, they cannot be given into a stable with other animals without preparation. If you put a strange rabbit in the hutch of another rabbit, a bitter fight usually ensues, in which an animal is bitten to death in the end and dies in agony. First of all, a professional and species-appropriate socialization is required.

The keeping of non-domesticated predatory and wild animals as well as “exotic” species places high demands on the keeper, which can hardly be met without sufficient expertise and material resources. If an animal owner repeatedly and persistently violates animal welfare regulations, he can be subject to a ban on keeping animals. There are therefore legal provisions for individual animal species:


The Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection stipulates the minimum requirements for husbandry in a series of reports and guidelines

  • Guidelines of the expert group on animal welfare equestrian husbandry (November 10, 1995)
  • Expert opinion on the requirements for the keeping of ornamental fish, which should at least be complied with (as of December 30, 1998)
  • Report on the minimum requirements for keeping mammals (May 7, 2014)
  • Opinion of the group of experts on the minimum requirements for keeping parrots (10 January 1995)
  • Guidelines of the Working Group on Animal Welfare and Equestrian Sports (November 1, 1992)
  • Guidelines for keeping game in enclosures in accordance with animal welfare
  • Report of the expert group on the welfare-friendly keeping of birds (July 10, 1996)
  • Report on the welfare-friendly keeping of birds of prey and owls (January 10, 1995)
  • Guidelines for the keeping, training and use of animals in circuses or similar facilities
  • Report of the expert group on the minimum requirements for keeping reptiles (January 10, 1997)
  • Guidelines for organizing animal fairs from the point of view of animal welfare (June 1, 2006)
  • Opinion on the minimum requirements for keeping ostriches, with the exception of kiwis (June 10, 1994) in the amended version of September 10, 1996


The statutory minimum requirements for keeping the different animal species can be found in the 2nd Animal Husbandry Ordinance, Federal Law Gazette II 2004/486:

  • Appendix 1 - Mammals
  • Appendix 2 - Birds
  • Appendix 3 - Reptiles
  • Appendix 4 - Amphibians
  • Appendix 5 - Fishes

Animal welfare organizations deal with many problems in pet keeping with their animal shelters on a voluntary basis: they investigate reports of animal cruelty and inappropriate husbandry, take in carelessly acquired pets and pass them on to new pet owners and take on the municipal task of warding off the dangers of stray animals ( especially dogs) and look after feral pets. Cats and dogs are common among the feral pets. Animal rights activists therefore aim to curb reproduction and to ensure a stable, healthy population through appropriate feeding . For example, the so-called Paderborn model  - the compulsory castration for free-roaming cats - is often viewed as an exemplary way of containing feral cats.


In Switzerland, animal welfare is stipulated by law in the Animal Welfare Act of December 16, 2005 and the Animal Welfare Ordinance of April 23, 2008. In the pet sector, the new animal welfare ordinance in 2008 prohibited the keeping of budgies and guinea pigs alone, and a mandatory certificate of competence for first-time dog owners was introduced.

Exotics as pets

Exotic pets are enjoying increasing popularity - especially reptiles and amphibians, but also larger cat species such as servals and monkey species.

But it is difficult to ensure that exotic animals are kept appropriately. The non-domesticated animals are wild animals whose behavior and demands on the habitat of some species have not yet been adequately researched. Dealers and potential keepers, even if they ask for information, may not have sufficient knowledge of welfare. This can be a mortal danger for kept animals, but also represent a danger for the keeper depending on the defensive strength or toxicity of the pet. In addition, many exotic animals are victims of illegal trade, which increases with demand. Animal welfare organizations such as the ETN eV , the Tierschutzbund and Vier Pfoten campaign against this .

The need for exotic pets is also owed to the proliferation of videos and photos showing exotic pets interacting with humans. A prominent example of this are slow lorises . Therefore, the ETN eV calls on you not to share, like or comment on such media.

Animals in entertainment

Bullfight in France

An early and sometimes very successful concern of animal welfare was the restriction or prohibition of animal fights and animal hunt for entertainment such as B. bullfighting , fox hunting , dog and cockfighting or horse and greyhound racing and pickling .

From the point of view of animal welfare, particularly high requirements should also be placed on the species-appropriate keeping of wild animals, as these are less adapted to life in human care. The keeping of wild animals in circuses and zoos as well as dressage is therefore rejected by some animal rights activists. In a very controversial film in 1971, Horst Stern emphasized the closeness of dressage to the natural behavior of animals and considered it more important to apply appropriate standards to the keeping of animals. In zoo animal husbandry, which also includes entertainment and teaching aspects, claims of individual animal protection occasionally collide with issues of species protection such as education and imparting knowledge about animals and nature, which are also a concern of animal protection.

Animal testing

Animal experiments are justified by the fact that they serve human welfare. The potential harmfulness as well as the medical and environmental effectiveness of substances are tested in animal experiments, diseases are researched in terms of their causes and course, surgical methods are tested and fundamental knowledge about the functions of the body is gained.

In doing so, animals are sometimes inflicted with suffering, pain and damage. Therefore, from the point of view of animal welfare, the aim is to reduce the number of animals used and the extent to which they are harmed to a minimum. Where possible, animal testing would have to be replaced by alternative methods. Results would have to be exchanged if the current legal situation allowed this, so that multiple examinations would be avoided.

The transfer of results from animal experiments to humans is not always possible. Thus, for example, thalidomide classified in animal studies to be safe, while about acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) is toxic to many animals.

The housing conditions in the breeding of the test animals and in the laboratories and test methods (for example the LD 50 test), which are perceived as drastic and excruciating, are particularly criticized . On the other hand, there are requirements for the safety and verifiability of manufacturing methods and substances, which in the context of environmental protection legislation such as the EU REACH directive prescribe the use of animal experiments.

Institutions and associations of animal welfare

State regulations

Private animal welfare organizations

Pastor Albert Knapp

In 1837 the pastor Albert Knapp founded the first German animal welfare association in Stuttgart , which was followed by others throughout Germany. In 1881 they formed the German Animal Welfare Association. Today it unites around 740 animal welfare associations with over 800,000 members. The animal welfare organizations of the European Community work together in the Eurogroup for Animals .

In Switzerland, the first animal welfare association was established in Bern around 1840. In 1861, the Swiss Animal Welfare Organization (STS) was brought into being, at that time under the name “Swiss Central Association for the Protection of Animals”. The Swiss animal welfare organization, today the largest animal welfare organization, is an umbrella organization of local animal welfare associations. It is the oldest national animal welfare organization in Switzerland. In the field of livestock husbandry, the organization kagfreiland (“kag” stands for consumer working group) has been trying to implement exemplary animal husbandry together with farmers since the 1970s. It therefore awards a label for meat, eggs and cheese. Other animal welfare organizations include the Foundation for Animals in Law , the Doctors for Animal Welfare in Medicine, ALTEX (alternatives to animal experiments), the IG Tiertransporte und Schlachthöfe or the VgT (Association against Animal Factories).

On January 1, 1981, the animal welfare organization ISPA International Society for the Protection of Animals, founded in 1953, and the WFPA World Federation for the Protection of Animals, founded in 1959, merged to form the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). The organization was renamed World Animal Protection in June 2014 and is an international animal welfare organization that uses educational work, disaster relief, campaigns and direct help on site to improve and guarantee animal welfare standards throughout the world. In 2006 the animal welfare organization started the campaign for a worldwide animal welfare declaration , which calls for an agreement on worldwide animal welfare standards by the United Nations.

In 1969, Brian Davis founded the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in Canada to protest the killing of young gray seals off the coast of Newfoundland . From this one of the largest international animal welfare and species protection organizations has developed worldwide. The most prominent member is the James Bond actor and actor Pierce Brosnan .

With the emergence of the animal rights movement in Germany, numerous new animal protection and animal rights organizations have been formed since the 1980s. The goals and working methods are different. Many have specialized in one subject in order to be able to do effective work. The Animals Angels e. V. is an internationally operating organization that campaigns to ensure that the applicable animal welfare regulations are complied with when transporting animals through public education, controls, documentation and close cooperation with the responsible authorities. The association PROVIEH fights against industrial animal husbandry, the committee against bird murder against bird trapping and poaching. animal public specializes in the protection of wild animals, as does the Pro Animale organization , which oversees various projects (e.g. free purchases from horse transports that are not in line with animal welfare and from animal experiments, establishment of animal shelters in Turkey and other countries, "dancing bears" -Problem, chain dog keeping). Other associations such as People for Animal Rights - Bundesverband der Tierversuchsgegner e. V. advocate the social and legal recognition of further animal rights and their implementation.

According to the annual survey by the German Donation Council and the GfK , “Bilanz des Helfens”, 5.4% of donations from German private individuals were earmarked for “animal welfare” in 2017, which corresponds to a donation volume for animal welfare of around 280 million euros (there are also donations from inheritance and large donations of more than 2500 euros). Animal welfare ranks second among donation purposes, after the “humanitarian aid” category with 77.7%.


organization founding year description
Action Party for Animal Welfare - TIERSCHUTZliste 2017 Political party for animal welfare only
Doctors Against Animal Testing 1979 The aim is to abolish all animal experiments
Albert Schweitzer Foundation for our environment 2000 non-profit animal welfare organization
Animal Peace 1987 non-profit recognized animal rights organization
animal public 2001 non-profit animal and species protection association
Animals' Angels 1998 Focus on animal transport
Animal Rights Watch eV 2013 The aim is the abolition of all exploitation and oppression of animals.
Bundesverband Tierschutz eV 1962 non-profit animal welfare association; animal shelter
Association against abuse of animals 1922 non-profit animal welfare association; Animal shelters
German Animal Welfare Association 1881 Umbrella organization
German animal welfare office 2013 registered animal welfare association
The animal welfare party 1993 world's first animal welfare party
Erna Graff Foundation for Animal Welfare 1983 does intensive youth work
European animal and nature protection 1989 Non-profit association, supports animals in need all over Europe
People for Animal Rights - Federal Association of Anti-Animal Experiments 1982 particularly opposes animal testing
PETA 1993 Exposure of animal cruelty, education and lifestyle change
PROVIEH 1973 according to its own information, the oldest and largest animal welfare association
Soko animal welfare 2013 non-profit animal welfare association
Animal Welfare League Foundation 2016 registered and registered animal welfare foundation
V party³ 2016 first party to campaign for animal rights and a vegan lifestyle


organization founding year description
Good aiderbichl 2001 internationally active non-profit foundation
Association against animal factories (Austria) (VGT) 1992 non-profit animal welfare organization
Four paws 1988 international animal rights and animal welfare organization
Animal Welfare Association for Tyrol 1881 1881 non-profit animal welfare organization


organization founding year description
ATs Aargau Animal Welfare Association 1869 Aargau animal welfare organization
KAGfreiland 1972 non-profit animal welfare organization
PEA - Pour l'Égalité Animale (PEA) 2014 Swiss-based animal welfare organization
Swiss Animal Welfare (STS) 1861 non-profit animal welfare organization
Animal in focus (TIF) 2009 non-profit animal rights organization
Animal Welfare Association Zurich (TSB Zurich) k. A. non-profit animal welfare organization
Association against animal factories (Switzerland) (VgT) 1989 non-profit animal welfare organization
Zurich animal welfare 1856 non-profit animal welfare organization


organization founding year description
Animal Liberation Front (ALF) 1976 also mostly carries out illegal actions
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) 1954 Mainly operating in the United States
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) 1969 International Animal Welfare Fund
Italian Horse Protection Association (IHP) 2009 Most important organization for the protection of horses in Italy
L214 Éthique & Animaux (L214) 2008 non-profit animal welfare organization in France
OceanCare 1989 Organization for the protection of marine animals and their habitat
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) 1980 Large animal rights association with 2 million members worldwide
Pro animale 1985 focuses on projects on an international level
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) 1824 Oldest animal welfare organization in the world
World animal protection society 2013 Animal welfare projects worldwide, campaigns in Germany
World Animal Protection 1981 Worldwide animal welfare campaigns and projects

Methods of organizations and dealing with violence

High seat with sawn-off ladder

The methods that organizations use to try to achieve their goals vary. In principle, animal rights activists operate and support animal shelters or sanctuaries and strive for practical help and further training for their members and interested parties in terms of animal welfare as well as the reception and care of abandoned and weakened animals. Information stands on the street, newsletters as well as symbolic actions and demonstrations, from disrupting a hunting party to spectacular actions such as the blockade of whalers, are organized to attract new members. Greenpeace, and later also Robin Wood , became known nationwide for such symbolic campaigns that were effective in the media. Radical groups like Sea Shepherd ram illegally operating whalers on the high seas . Sea Shepherd has sunk ten ships so far and claims to be able to enforce law enforcement in international waters. The organization refers to the United Nations World Charter for Nature .

The willingness to use violence, the commission of crimes by militant animal rights activists and animal rights activists, is a serious criminological and ethical problem. The offenses range from property damage , such as damaging high seats , which also approves of injuries and, in extreme cases, the death of the hunter, to psychological terror , break-ins, rioting, arson and murder.

Current projects and topics in Germany

A large number of discussions and projects in the context of animal welfare can currently be found in Germany. Those who have the greatest weight within Germany in terms of the organizations involved and the media reach are described below.

Demonstrations against factory farming

In Germany but also in the Netherlands there are a number of demonstrations under the motto We are fed up with it! . One of the main concerns of the event is to draw attention to the conditions in factory farming. The protest is supported by animal welfare organizations such as the Albert Schweitzer Foundation for our Mitwelt , Provieh , Deutscher Tierschutzbund and other organizations.

Resistance to animal and plant patents

In 1992, various organizations in Germany came together to form the “No Patent on Life!” Initiative. The network is controlled from an office in Munich, which in turn is part of the European initiative "No Patents on Life!" is. Several hundred organizations are involved across Europe. The aim of the initiative is to prevent life from being patented . This includes plants and animals as well as gene sequences and human stem cells .

The reason for the initiative was the patenting of the "crab mouse", which contradicted European patent law. In addition to ethical concerns, economic and economic reasons against patenting are given. Despite numerous objections, patent applications and approvals for plants and animals are increasing every year. The initiators therefore continue to oppose it, mostly on a voluntary basis, with objections and public relations work.

Loss of building privileges for animal factories

An important step against factory farming: In April 2013, the German Bundestag brought about an amendment to the building code . With the change in law, the building privileges for animal factories will be restricted. At the same time receive towns and communities a veto from a defined for each animal stall size, not if more than 50 percent of the factory farming required feed on their own land be produced. The Albert Schweitzer Foundation and other organizations advocate the elimination of the previous building privileges for the so-called animal factories and continue to campaign against factory farming with the network of farms instead of agricultural factories .

Lower Saxony Animal Welfare Plan

In industrial animal husbandry, the interests and possibilities of the farmers and the needs of the animals face each other. Due to this, an animal welfare plan was launched in Lower Saxony in 2011 by the Minister of Agriculture and Consumer Protection Gert Lindemann. The aim of this is to uncover and remedy deficiencies in livestock husbandry. In addition to the appropriate keeping of farm animals such as poultry, pigs and cattle, the aim is to avoid measures that are cruel to animals. In many cases, however, the latter is only possible if the husbandry is changed in advance, taking into account the needs of the animals. During implementation, aspects relevant to animal welfare as well as the interests and possibilities of farmers and the interests of consumers should be taken into account. Agriculture Minister Lindemann describes such an overarching solution as the "Lower Saxony way": The farmers should not be imposed on doctrines and should be solely responsible. Instead, it is important to work out constructive possible solutions, with the farmers receiving support from experts and authorities in their implementation.

The Lower Saxony Animal Welfare Plan is a pilot project in Germany. In addition to the Minister of Agriculture, various animal welfare organizations, veterinarians and authorities as well as representatives from science, business, consumer protection, the church and trade are involved. The cooperation of various experts is intended to ensure that all relevant aspects of industrial animal husbandry are taken into account. For this purpose, the "Animal Welfare Strategy" steering committee and various specialist working groups were set up, each dedicated to a sub-area.

The Lower Saxony Animal Welfare Plan aims to ensure that livestock is kept in a species-appropriate manner at the state level, because the state sees itself as an agricultural state with a special responsibility and role model. While the aim is to keep and feed all livestock in a way that is appropriate to the species, it is also specifically important to prevent the trimming of the beaks of poultry and to introduce anesthetic obligation when trimming the tail and castrating piglets, when foaling thighs and dehorning calves. Appropriate husbandry includes sufficient exercise and employment opportunities for all livestock as well as the establishment of suitable drinking troughs and watering points for ducks. Furthermore, the Lower Saxony Animal Welfare Plan has set itself the task of defining animal welfare indicators that are intended to reveal future deficiencies in husbandry at an early stage. In a work program, 40 fields of action for twelve animal species and corresponding time frames for implementation were defined.

Protection of marine life

Dead albatross with plastic in his stomach

The littering of the oceans is increasingly endangering the lives of sea birds, fish and other marine animals. According to the Federal Environment Agency , around 100,000 animals die every year from leftover packaging, ropes, nets and other fishing waste, in which they either get tangled and strangle or by swallowing rubbish.

The roughly one third of the plastic waste in the oceans represents a particular danger , as it decomposes slowly and releases toxins that are ingested by marine animals. In addition, plastics are not completely decomposed, so that tiny particles remain in the water. Other microparticles find their way into the sea via industry, sewage treatment plants and through ship accidents. An average of 13,000 such residues per square kilometer are assumed. This can also be dangerous for humans, as the microparticles bind toxins already present in the water, which are ingested by marine animals and thus get into the food chain.

The Federal Environment Agency calls on people to contribute to the protection of marine animals by not using cosmetics that contain plastics, disposing of garbage properly and avoiding plastic packaging. As an overarching measure, according to the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, any further litter harmful to marine animals is to be stopped by 2020.

Flight sponsorships to Germany

Numerous animal welfare organizations are active abroad and convey animals to Germany from there. For this purpose, flight sponsors are constantly being sought who, for example, take an animal with them on the journey home from the holiday destination by acting as official companions. There are no costs or efforts for the flight sponsor. The animal welfare organization takes on all formalities abroad, brings the animal to the airport and checks it in there, accompanied by the flight sponsor. At the point of arrival, the flight sponsor receives the animal together with his luggage and then hands it over to the waiting animal rights activists, the new owners or the representative of the foster home.

You can register as a flight sponsor either directly with an animal welfare organization or with the central agency. This institution forwards every registration to the relevant animal welfare organizations abroad and also arranges contacts in Germany if, for example, a foster home is sought or a collection has to be organized.

Current projects and topics in Austria

In February 2019, the program of a non-partisan referendum for animal welfare, developed by independent experts, was presented. Initiated by activist & publicist Sebastian Bohrn Mena and supported by numerous celebrities, a civil society movement is working to change the law, especially for animals used for agriculture. The popular initiative has been collecting declarations of support since May 7, 2019, which will also be credited for the registration week, which is expected to take place in spring 2021. In October 2019, 50,000 signatures were already achieved, the legal hurdle for parliamentary handling of referendums in Austria is 100,000 signatures.

See also

Portal: Animal Welfare  - Overview of Wikipedia content on animal welfare


  • Elisabeth de Fontenay: Le silence des bêtes: la philosophy à l'épreuve de l'animalité. Fayard, Paris 1999. Thorough history.
  • Martin Liechti (ed.): The dignity of the animal . Harald Fischer Verlag, Erlangen 2002, ISBN 3-89131-406-X .
  • Christa Murken : Animal Turn. Looking for a new way of dealing with animals . Murken-Altrogge publishing house, Herzogenrath 2015, ISBN 978-3-935791-46-5 .
  • Hans Hinrich Sambraus, Andreas Steiger (ed.): The book of animal protection . Ferdinand Enke Verlag, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-432-29431-X .
  • Gotthard M. Teutsch: Mensch und Tier - Lexikon der Tierschutzethik . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1987, ISBN 3-525-50171-4 .
  • Günter Rohrmoser : The crisis in the natural sciences and ethical questions in animal husbandry. and The human-animal relationship from the perspective of philosophy. In: Agriculture in the Ecological and Cultural Crisis. Society for Cultural Studies, Bietigheim / Baden 1996, ISBN 3-930218-25-9 , p. 38ff.
  • Thomas Schwarz: Animal welfare in everyday life . In: Hans Werner Ingensiep (Hrsg.): The animal in our culture. Encounters, relationships, problems . Essen: Oldib-Verlag, 2015, ISBN 978-3-939556-48-0 , pp. 187–222.
  • Jean-Claude Wolf: Animal Ethics. New perspectives for people and animals. 2nd, revised edition. Harald Fischer Verlag, Erlangen 2005, ISBN 3-89131-415-9 .
  • Ursula Wolf : The animal in morality. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1990, ISBN 3-465-02233-5 .
  • Herwig Grimm, Carola Otterstedt (ed.): The animal in itself. Cross-disciplinary perspectives for new approaches in science-based animal welfare. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-525-40447-8 .
  • Klaus Petrus: Animal Rights Movement - History, Theory, Activism. Unrast , 2013, ISBN 978-3-89771-118-1 . (Abstract)

Web links

Commons : Animal Welfare  - Collection of Images
 Wikinews: Animal Welfare  - In The News
Wiktionary: Animal protection  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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  57. Abstract on: