Szilvia Vetter compared and examined the anti-animal torture laws and their implementation in several countries. Hungary ended up at the bottom of the rankings.
Awful cases of brutal animal torture in Hungary are being reported, such as the woman who tied her dog to her car with a bale leash and dragged it for kilometres, until the animal’s hair, skin, and flesh started to fall off due to the friction and the dog died, reported Index.
The dog in this case was a komondor, declared a national treasure. The number of this protected native shepherd dog breed is already quite low, with some saying that it is on the brink of extinction, so experts are doing everything they can to save the breed.
The animal’s “sin”, for which it was being punished, was that it was startled by a storm so much that it ran away from its owner’s farm.
A similarly shocking and saddening case happened last summer in the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden, when a visitor took a Greek turtle out of the catwalk, scaring the animal so much that it relieved itself into the visitor’s hand. The visitor beat the turtle with a cube stone; both the abdominal and dorsal sides of the shell were opened two-fingers-wide and its internal organs were severely damaged, causing the animal to die.
In both cases, criminal proceedings were instigated against the perpetrators as the criminal codes of civilised countries, such as ours, recognise and deal with crimes against the environment and nature, such as environmental damage, nature damage, animal torture, poaching, or the violation of waste management regulations.
Animal rights activists, however, are not satisfied with the domestic regulations and have repeatedly launched petitions to punish animal torturers more severely.
Recently, Dr Szilvia Vetter, a lawyer, economist, and an employee of the Department of Forensic Veterinary Science and Economics of the University of Veterinary Medicine, dealt with the complex issue of animal protection in her doctoral dissertation. According to her research, although there is room for improvement in anti-animal torture regulation in Hungary, it would be a great boost to the situation if we complied with our existing legislation on animal torture more consistently than before. This could lead to more significant changes than just further tightening the regulation.
According to Vetter, the cross-disciplinary field of animal protection is only worth looking at in its entirety. In her doctoral dissertation, she compared the criminal laws penalising animal torture in fifteen countries and at the same time developed the world’s first criminal law index against animal torture.
In Szilvia Vetter’s doctorate, she started from the serious damage that the human-animal relationship has suffered in recent centuries because humans have started considering – and sometimes still see – animals as an extremely exploitable resource. Examples of this are global meat, milk, and egg production, to name a few, and the new, intensive animal husbandry methods that determine the lives and deaths of millions of animals.
The research carried out a law comparison work, at the end of which a country ranking was established, classifying the animal welfare regulations of different nations. It was mostly based on written law, but for thirteen countries, in addition to theory, implementation was also considered. Switzerland, Poland, and the Netherlands are at the top of the ranking reviewing the theory, while Slovenia, Hungary, and Spain are in the lowest ranks.
Under current criminal law, animal torture is when someone unreasonably abuses a vertebrate animal or unjustifiably treats a vertebrate animal in such a way as to cause permanent damage to or the destruction of the vertebrate animal, or when they expel, leave, or chase away the vertebrate animal or dangerous animal.
Such an offender is punishable by up to two years in prison, but that does not mean that they will actually have to go to prison for, say, two years. It is a classified criminal offence, meaning it could be punishable more severely by up to three years’ imprisonment when someone causes particular suffering to the animal or causes permanent damage to or the death of several animals.