Animals To Be Formally Recognised As Sentient Beings Under UK Law | TOTUM
Ben HaywardMay 12th
2021

In a long-overdue move, the UK is to formally update its legislation to recognise that animals are sentient beings. 

After sustained pressure from animal rights campaigners, the update will apply to all animals - from household pets, to farm animals and even those overseas - acknowledging that they are capable of feeling sensations and emotions.

The move will see the halting of the vast majority of live animal exports as well as a ban on the importation of hunting trophies.

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Environment secretary George Eustice, said: "We are a nation of animal lovers and were the first country in the world to pass animal welfare laws.

"Our action plan for animal welfare will deliver on our manifesto commitment to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening, prohibit keeping primates as pets, and bring in new laws to tackle puppy smuggling.

"As an independent nation, we are now able to go further than ever to build on our excellent track record.”

The new legislation could see products such as Foie gras removed from sale in the UK due to the treatment ducks and geese endure to produce it, as well as the banning of shock collars that are sometimes used to train pets.

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Import rules will be tightened to try and address the growing puppy-smuggling trade and fresh bans on the ivory and shark fin trade will also be introduced in efforts to protect animals outside the UK. 

Also brought forward has been a renewed crackdown on illegal hare coursing and the sale and use of glue traps will be restricted, while police will be given new powers to protect farm animals from dogs.

Unfortunately, the use of cages for poultry and farrowing crates for pigs will not be banned, as campaigners had called for, although their use will be looked at, with farmers given incentives to improve animal health and welfare through the future farm subsidy scheme.

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The government repeated a pledge to uphold UK animal welfare in future trade deals, however have not put the commitment into law.

Compassion in World Farming senior policy manager James West said: "We have long been calling for UK legislation that recognises animals as sentient beings and for sentience to be given due regard when formulating and implementing policy," he said.

"We are also delighted the government has confirmed it will legislate for a long-overdue ban on live exports for slaughter and fattening. We have been campaigning for this for decades: it is high time this cruel and unnecessary trade is finally brought to an end."

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