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What is animal welfare

There are many definitions on animal welfare, but simply put animal welfare is the physical and psychological wellbeing of animals that come into interaction with human beings. According to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), animal welfare is how an animal is coping with the condition in which it lives. Whereas Law No. 18/2009 on Animal Husbandry and Health defines animal welfare as all matters concerning the physical and mental state of animals pursuant to the natural behavior of the animal, which needs to be applied and enforced in order protect animals from the unethical treatment of humans to animals that are used by human beings.

Based on this, it is clear that animal welfare is not only about preventing physical abuse which inflicts pain upon the animals, but it is also about ensuring that mentally and psychologically animals are able to fulfill their natural wills and desires (karsa). And Law No. 18/2009 stipulates that at the very minimum our responsibility to ensure animal welfare is to the animals that have direct use for humans, or in other words animals that come into interaction with us, not wild animals that already live freely in their natural habitats. Why not? Because for those animals that we benefit from and take into our care, human intervention becomes so important that it impacts their living conditions and ultimately their survival. Whereas wild animals that are already in the wild should be left free because they will be able to fulfill all of their physical and psychological needs by relying on their own instinct and nature.

There are at least four categories of animals that fall under human responsibility to ensure their welfare, including:

1) Wild animals in captivity (conservation bodies such as zoos, recreation use of wild animals, laboratory animals)
2) Farm animals (big and small)
3) Working animals
4) Companion animals