Animals are not objects

Much like us, sentient animals are 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 welfare debated in Parliament

On 16 March MPs debated animal sentience. We're disappointed this debate led to no Government commitment to bring in law recognising animal sentience before 1 January 2021.

It's crucial to recognise in law that animals are living beings which feel pain and joy, so they can be legally protected. This means there will be a break between the UK leaving the EU sentience framework and bringing in its own legislation, undermining the Government's pledge for high animal welfare standards post Brexit.

If the UK is to achieve the Environment Secretary's objective of achieving the highest possible animal welfare post-Brexit, then it must push to get the recognition of sentience into law.

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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.

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

As we 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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