Finnish community statement on government’s new proposal on animal welfare

The Finnish government is proposing new legislation on animal wellbeing, which would replace the current law on Animal Protection. In the suggested legislation bleeding of an animal could only be started once the animal has been appropriately stunned or killed with a method suitable for the species in question. The new legislation would require so-called pre-cut stunning. The current law on Animal Protection allows starting of the bleeding of the animal simultaneously with its stunning. Under the new law, the animal would always have to be stunned prior to slaughtering it.

Slaughter according to Jewish practice (shechita) and the commandments concerning purity of food (kashrut) are absolutely central in Judaism and religiously binding for Jews. There are many commandments on proper humane treatment of animals in Judaism; the aim of shechita is to produce the minimal amount of suffering and pain to an animal during slaughter. Thus, the harming of an animal by stunning it prior to bleeding, is absolutely forbidden in Judaism. Shechita has been shown in numerous studies, to be at least as swift and painless a slaughtering method as e.g. bolt pistol stunning conjoined with bloodletting. (See. S. D. Rosen: Physiological insights into Shechita, The Veterinary Record, June 12, 2004)

Because stunning methods such as bolt pistols destroy part of the animal’s brain, using such a method can in no way be considered humane and is at odds with the principle of keeping the animal uninjured. There is also no clear evidence that bolt pistol stunning would be less painful than the fast and efficient method used in Judaism. Thus, bolt pistol stunning must be seen as a dubious method from the point of view of religious animal protection ordinances.

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