Updated on by Matthew H. Nash
Animal rights laws vary greatly around the world. Animal rights activists argue that animals are sentient beings that deserve a life free from suffering. From recognition of animal sentience to fur-farming bans, many countries are taking a stand against animal cruelty any way they can. There are also other considerations that can impact animal health and welfare, such as pesticide use and meat consumption.
We gathered statistics from key international data sources in order to create this comprehensive “Animal Rights Index” which helps identify which countries are the best and worst in terms of animal rights.
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20 Countries With the Best Animal Rights
Based on our research on animal rights data in 65 different countries, these are the twenty countries with the best animal rights laws and regulations along with their animal welfare rating scores:
- Luxembourg: 519.68
- United Kingdom: 506.36
- Austria: 501.73
- Czechia: 498.66
- Belgium: 488.86
- Croatia: 486.36
- Sweden: 478.10
- Netherlands: 470.43
- Bulgaria: 464.66
- Switzerland: 463.18
- Greece: 459.45
- Denmark: 458.98
- Romania: 458.00
- Germany: 456.86
- Poland: 454.39
- Estonia: 453.80
- Finland: 453.50
- New Zealand: 452.47
- France: 450.11
- Ireland: 449.97
These European countries scored highly mainly because they all have animal cruelty laws as well as regulations recognizing that animals are sentient and can suffer pain. They also have full fur-farming bans or partial bans on farming certain animals for fur.
20 Countries With the Worst Animal Rights
The following are the twenty countries with the worst animal welfare regulations and their animal welfare scores:
- China: 12.46
- Vietnam: 45.24
- Iran: 71.40
- Azerbaijan: 73.07
- Belarus: 105.65
- Algeria: 124.13
- Mali: 165.88
- Ethiopia: 176.02
- Russia: 207.96
- Egypt: 219.39
- Argentina: 227.00
- Niger: 229.52
- Morocco: 234.19
- Colombia: 235.43
- Uruguay: 239.09
- Myanmar: 242.29
- Saudi Arabia: 253.53
- Ukraine: 256.00
- Kenya: 275.26
- Zimbabwe: 288.53
These countries have very few, if any, animal cruelty laws on the books. Most do not recognize that animals feel pain or are sentient beings. They also have smaller percentages of protected areas set aside for wildlife and often have high rates of meat consumption.
Surprisingly, the United States ranks 39th on the list. While the country does have a history of strong animal rights and anti-cruelty laws, excessive meat consumption, lack of fur-farming restrictions, relatively low protected areas and the fact that animal sentience is not recognized at the federal level push it down the list. Many Americans own pets and consider them a part of their families, but they often don’t make the connection between household pets and animals used for food, resources, and the general wildlife. Humanitarians maintain that all animals deserve the same considerations for their well-being, whether they are pets, livestock, or wild animals.
Why Animal Rights Matter
What are animal rights? Essentially, this is the belief that all animals should be granted the same basic level of compassion as human beings. The assumption is that animals are not merely possessions — they are living, breathing creatures that can feel pain. Recognizing this is one of the most basic tenets of animal rights. The more we learn about how animals think and feel pain, the more we can work on protecting them and treating them humanely.
Some groups of people involved in the animal rights movement, like vegans, go even further by denouncing all animal by-products, including leather and dairy. They argue that even if animals are given first-class treatment all of their lives and killed humanely, they shouldn’t have their lives ended by humans. These individuals are generally against these practices:
- Experimenting or testing medicines and cosmetics on animals
- Using animals for hard manual labor
- Breeding and killing animals for food or clothing
- Selective breeding for purposes other than the animal’s welfare
- Zoos and animals used in entertainment
Interactive Animal Rights Data
Please note: You can scroll horizontally to see all the data. The titles of each column allows you to sort the data based on that one metric.
|Country||Recognition of Animal Sentience||Recognition of Animal Suffering||Any Laws Against Animal Cruelty||Support for the Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare||Fur-Farming Ban||Meat Consumption per Capita in Kilograms||Percentage of Protected Areas||Kgs of Pesticide / Hectare of Cropland||Environmental Performance Index Score||Total Score|
Organizations That Promote Animal Rights
There are many groups around the world that advocate on behalf of animal rights and welfare.
The following are animal welfare organizations that aim to secure the rights of animals:
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: This nonprofit organization, created in 1866, lobbies for animal welfare legislation in the United States.
- The Humane Society of the United States: This group’s main campaigns have been targeting factory farming, fur farming, wildlife abuse, puppy mills, and animal blood sports.
- American Humane: This organization is known for monitoring animal welfare on movie, television, and broadcast sets.
- International Fund for Animal Welfare: This animal rights group (one of the largest in the world) has led campaigns to end commercial seal hunting, counter poaching, protect critical elephant habitats, and more.
- World Animal Protection: This global nonprofit helps promote animal welfare by humanely managing stray dog populations, helping animals during disasters, and working with farmers to improve the lives of farm animals.
- Humane Society International: This is an international organization that has addressed animal rights issues like illegal wildlife trade, endangered species threats, and the slaughter of marine mammals.
- PETA: An international organization the promotes the humane treatment of all animals. PETA is an acronym for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Why The Swiftest Believes In The Importance Animal Rights
At The Swiftest we believe that animals are sentient beings and deserve the right to live a happy and healthy life free from abuse or unnecessary suffering. I am personally a lifelong pet owner from dogs, cats, fish, parrots, you name it and I probably had it. Around 1,000 dogs and cats are euthanized in the USA every day and many of these euthanizations could have been prevented if the owner simply had pet insurance. If you get the right policy for your animal everything from sudden and catastrophic to even wellness treatments can be covered improving the length and quality of your furry-friends life. If you’re getting a new dog or adopting an old one, see our helpful new puppy checklist.
The Swiftest is a free insurance comparison service currently focused on pet, travel, and life insurance. We have spent months researching the best dog insurance policies in each U.S. state. You can learn more about your state by clicking on the links below.