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, the Government still haven't given animals vital legal protection they got from EU law.
Why we need animal sentience in legislation
We're disappointed the Government have yet to commit to bringing in a law recognising animal sentience.
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 have lost the vital legal protections that came 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 this means for animal welfare
Under EU law animals are recognised as beings with feelings, but this hasn't become part of UK law now we've left the European Union.
We must ensure that animals have the same protection and they are not viewed merely as commodities.
We want to see a new Animal Welfare Commission in England and Wales, and a process to balance animal needs against other goals when making future policy decisions.
Now we've left the EU, we must ensure that Brexit is not a backwards step for animal welfare.
What we have lost
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 animals need 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.
In the last 20 years we've seen:
- barren battery cages banned
- Animal testing for cosmetics ended
- Import of seal products prohibited.