MPs have voted to reject the inclusion of animal sentience into the EU (Withdrawal) Bill this week.
Currently 80% of animal welfare legislation comes from the EU, but from March 2019, European law will not apply in the UK.
The amendment clause would transfer the EU protocol on animal sentience from Article 13 of Title II of the Lisbon Treaty into UK law. The rejection of the law, 313 MPs voted against, 295 in favour, means that any animal not deemed a 'pet' will be considered to not feel pain or emotions and so will not be protected under law. One of the arguments for the rejection is that animal sentience is covered in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. However, RSPCA Head of Public Affairs David Bowles said: “Animal sentience is never mentioned in the Animal Welfare Act and, crucially, only domestic animals are really covered by the provisions of the Act anyway and animals in the wild and laboratories are expressly exempt. It is simply wrong for the Government to claim that the Act protects animal sentience.
“In the EU, we know that the recognition of animals as sentient beings has been effective in improving animal welfare across the region. If the UK is to achieve the Environment Secretary’s objective of achieving the highest possible animal welfare post-Brexit, it must do the same.”
British Veterinary Association Senior Vice President Gudrun Ravetz said: "Enshrining animal sentience in UK law would have acknowledged that we consider animals as being capable of feelings such as pain and contentment and, so, deserving of consideration and respect."
All 313 MPs who voted to reject the law were either Conservative or DUP.
If your MP voted to reject this amendment, we are asking you to write to them and explain that all animals are sentient, that there is scientific evidence to prove this and that we as their constituents, the people they are meant to be respresenting, do not back this rejection.