Recognize Animals as Sentient Beings

Target: Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Goal: Ensure that U.K. laws protect animals by regarding them as sentient beings capable of feeling pain.

According to the government of the U.K., animals are incapable of feeling pain or emotion. The Tory government has voted not to include animal sentience in the European Union Withdrawal Bill, effectively ruling that animals do not have feelings or emotions. This is a huge threat to animal welfare and an unacceptable violation of animal rights.

The vast majority of animal welfare legislation currently operating in the U.K. comes from the European Union, but those laws will no longer apply when the U.K. withdraws from the EU in 2019, and animal sentience is one of the laws that will be left behind. The clause that would have protected animal sentience had it been included in the Withdrawal Bill, submitted by Green MP Caroline Lucas, was rejected by a margin of 313 votes to 295, despite the vast amount of scientific evidence indicating that animals do have feelings and emotions comparable to humans’ (and in some cases even stronger).

The government argues that the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 will be sufficient to protect animals, but activists disagree. The head of public affairs of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), David Bowles, said, “It’s shocking. This is truly a backward step for animal welfare. Only domestic animals are really covered by the provisions of the act 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.” Sign below to demand that an animal sentience provision be included in the EU Withdrawal Bill.


Dear Prime Minister May,

The U.K.’s failure to include animal sentience in the EU Withdrawal Bill is unacceptable. It is a massive step backward for animal rights and welfare, and it flies in the face of extensive scientific evidence that shows that animals are capable of feelings and emotions, and are certainly able to feel pain. Additionally, it undermines the U.K.’s commitment to remaining a leader in its high standards for animal welfare after Brexit.

As RSPCA’s head of public affairs David Bowles says, “Animals are not ‘commodities’ and any laws impacting on them needs to take into account their capacity to suffer. They are sentient beings, with feelings and emotions.” They must be regarded as such. I urge you to protect these animals and the U.K.’s high standards of animal welfare, and ensure that animal sentience is not neglected from legislation when the U.K. leaves the EU.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Pexels

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  1. Animals don’t have feelings? Who decided that they are not sentient brings? Ignorance, greediness …
    What do the government ‘pursue’? Be able to massacre them as they please so they don’t have to respond to any Criminal Court?

  2. Many more people need to know what “sentient” really means.

  3. “Animal Sentience” MUST BE included in the EU Withdrawal Bill. All Animals have feelings! They experience emotional and physical pain. They suffer! This fact MUST BE emphasized!

    There are too many humans who are cruel to animals. At the very least, they should have laws that make it illegal to cause animal suffering of ANY kind!

    Protect the welfare of ALL animals by maintaining/increasing high standards. Make certain that NO species is legally allowed to suffer. Include “Animal Sentience” provision!

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