UK passes “animal sentience” bill into law

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The Animal Welfare Bill recognises that animals are complex living and feeling beings and as a result, their welfare must be taken into consideration and protected.
The Animal Welfare Bill recognises that animals are complex living and feeling beings and as a result, their welfare must be taken into consideration and protected. © The Donkey Sanctuary

Britain’s Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill has passed into law after receiving formal Royal Assent on April 28.

The Animal Welfare Bill recognises that animals are complex living and feeling beings and as a result, their welfare must be taken into consideration and protected.

The move has been welcomed by international equine charity The Donkey Sanctuary, which had been part of a coalition of more than 50 animal protection organisations known as A Better Deal for Animals, that worked hard to progress the bill and make it a duty for the government to consider animal welfare needs in its decision making.

In the European Union (EU), Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU sets out that Member States should pay full regard to the welfare requirement of animals when formulating policies in certain areas ‘“since animals are sentient beings”. However, this principle was not incorporated into UK law following Brexit.

In the UK, once a bill has completed all the parliamentary stages in the House of Lords and the House of Commons, it is ready to receive Royal Assent, when the Queen formally agrees to make the bill into an Act of Parliament (law).

Ian Cawsey, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at The Donkey Sanctuary, said it was a great day for animal welfare in the UK.

“Donkeys and mules are amazing animals and they have the capacity for sensing and feeling, including positive emotions such as joy and happiness, as well as pain and loneliness. Acknowledging sentience means these issues can be part of future developments in animal welfare.

“The Donkey Sanctuary will always advocate for policy and legislation that helps to protect donkeys. This law means we can also build the case for their wellbeing, which is a great opportunity to take animal welfare to a higher level. We look forward to playing our part to ensure this new law leads to better outcomes for donkeys, mules and other animals,” he said.

The Donkey Sanctuary is a global leader for equine welfare, research and veterinary care. The charity operates programmes worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry and transportation.

 

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