Animals are not objects

Much like us, animals are sentient beings and aware of their feelings and emotions. Their lives matter to them and they have the same capacity to feel joy and pleasure, as well as pain and suffering. Post-Brexit, animals risk losing vital legal protection they get from EU law.

Animal sentience petition submitted to Parliament

A petition started earlier this year by Alesha Dixon - calling for animal sentience and animal welfare to have full regard in law - gained over the 100,000 signatures needed. The petition was handed in to Downing Street on 3 September.

At a reception for MPs following the hand in, the Under Secretary for Environment Zac Goldsmith confirmed a government commitment to recognising animals as sentient in law in England.

Thank you to everyone who has backed the petition with us and taken action so far to support our goal of ensuring animal welfare is considered in all policy making. 

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EU law recognises animals as sentient beings

Post-Brexit, animals are at risk of losing the vital legal protections that comes with EU law. We want a #BetterDealForAnimals - a law that creates a duty for all Ministers in the UK to fully regard animal welfare in policy making.

Animals are not 'goods' and full regard must be given to their welfare to ensure we can continue to change their lives for the better.

I am an animal, we are all animals, and therefore I care - Michael Gove, UK Government Minister, July 2017

What does leaving the EU mean for animal welfare?

Pigs at a farm © RSPCA

Under EU law animals are recognised as beings with feelings, but what will happen once the UK leaves the European Union?

We must ensure that animals have the same protection and they are not viewed merely as commodities.

Leaving the EU will mean European law will no longer apply in the UK, and 80 percent of current animal welfare legislation comes from the EU.

While politicians in England and Wales continue considering how and when UK Government is likely to leave the EU, we must ensure that Brexit is not a backwards step for animal welfare.

What we could lose

The recognition that animals are sentient beings, with feelings and emotions, sends a strong message to politicians in both England and Wales. Any laws impacting on animals needs to take into account their capacity to suffer.

Sadly millions of animals are still being kept in conditions that do not meet their needs. However, laws are changing and we are seeing significant improvements in how animals are treated.

Since the recognition of animals as sentient beings, the EU has:

  • Banned the use of barren battery cages
  • Ended animal testing for cosmetics
  • Prohibited import of seal products.
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