Law protecting animals and humans
In December of last year federal law "On Responsible Handling of Animals and on Amending Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation" was adopted, in which an important provision appeared that was not previously reflected in any legal acts: animals are creatures capable of experiencing physical pain and emotions. The law has partially entered into force, and some of its provisions will take effect later.
To date, only six of the 14 by-laws have been adopted, said Vladimir Burmatov, head of the Duma Committee on Ecology and Environmental Protection. According to him, the law simultaneously protects both animals and humans: "It protects animals from being killed and poisoned under any pretext. It protects people from living near neighbors that keep a bear in the apartment, or lynx, or crocodile, or elephant."
One of the unimplemented by-laws concerns handling of street animals. "Government did not prepare by-laws, and regions should not only have prepared their by-laws based on government's work by the end of the year, but also build municipal shelters in accordance with this regulation. This work won't be completed by most constituent subjects of the Russian Federation," Burmatov said.
As for the requirements for use of animals for cultural and entertainment purposes, problems also exist in this sphere. “The most important by-law regarding conditions in which animals are kept in circuses, zoos, dolphinariums, and other similar places hasn't been adopted. All summer we monitored traveling circuses, traveling zoos, traveling dolphinariums, and conditions that were created there for animals often din't stand up to any criticism," deputy noted.
According to him, right now there are no guidelines for organizing activities of animal shelters and establishing standards for keeping animals in them. “And what does the lack of requirements for animal welfare standards in the shelters mean? This means that any head of the municipality can dig a hole with an excavator, throw off homeless animals there and say that he has a shelter, because there is a sign that says 'municipal shelter'. If he believes that the shelter should look like this, it will be difficult to hold him accountable, since it will be necessary to prove the fact of ill-treatment and so on," he said.
There are also no guidelines for implementation of activities on treatment of animals without owners. “If a dog ran away from you and it was taken to a shelter, how should the owners of this shelter and corresponding municipality notify people that they found this animal?” Vladimir Burmatov asked.
In addition, according to him, there's no proper procedure of handling confiscated wild animals: “Licensing provisions for keeping and using animals in zoos, circuses, dolphinariums and oceanariums are a very important topic. This licensing should put an end to shameful practice of contact zoos. They will not be licensed, and finally they can be banned. Today they work completely outside the legal field. The Federal Service for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare can close all of them for violating a lot of norms. But in order to achieve this, we have to be systematic, by-laws are not enough. Licensing will immediately cut off these forms of exploitation of animals."