Animals will be officially recognized as sentient beings in UK law | Animal wellbeing

Animals are to be officially recognized as sentient beings in UK law for the first time, a victory for animal welfare activists as the government has put in place a series of animal welfare measures, including l stopping most exports of live animals and banning the import of hunting trophies.

The reforms will be introduced through a series of bills, including an Animal Sensitivity Bill, and will cover farm animals and pets in the UK, and include protections for them. animals abroad, by banning ivory and shark fins, and a possible ban on foie gras. .

Some of the measures – including the microchipping of cats and the ban on people keeping primates as pets – have been in the works for several years, and others – such as restricting exports of live animals – have done so. the object of decades-long campaigns.

George Eustice, Secretary of the Environment, said: “We are a nation of animal lovers and were the first country in the world to pass animal welfare laws. Our animal welfare action plan will meet our clear commitment to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening, to ban the keeping of primates as pets and to ban adopt new laws to fight puppy trafficking. As an independent nation, we are now able to go further than ever by building on our excellent track record. “

Animal welfare action plan includes measures that will involve tackling pet theft, which has become a growing problem in the ‘puppy boom’ triggered by coronavirus lockdowns with a new group of work. Controversial electronic collars that deliver electric shock to pets will be banned and import rules changed to try to stop the trafficking of puppies.

Illegal hare racing will also be cracked down again, and the use of glue traps will be restricted. In response to farmers’ concerns about dogs running free in the countryside during closures, police will be given new powers to protect farm animals from dogs.

However, the use of poultry cages and pig farrowing cages will not be subject to an outright ban, as campaigners demanded. Instead, their use will be examined and farmers will be given an incentive to improve animal health and welfare through the future farm subsidy scheme.

The government has also reiterated its commitment to respecting animal welfare in the UK in future trade deals, but will not put that commitment into law as campaigners have called for.

James West, senior policy director at Compassion in World Farming, a lobby group, said some of the measures were the subject of protracted campaigns: consideration when formulating and implementing policy. We are also delighted that the government has confirmed that it will legislate for a long overdue ban on exports of live fish for slaughter and fattening. We have been campaigning for this for decades: it is high time this cruel and unnecessary trade finally ended. “

He called on the government to go further, to stop the import and sale of foie gras and to ban the use of cages for the 16 million sows and laying hens in the UK that are still caged.

He added: “All of these positive announcements must be backed up by a comprehensive method of labeling production, and it is essential that the government ensure that these much-needed improvements in animal welfare are not compromised by future agreements. commercial. “

The ban on the import and export of shark fins, the subject of a campaign by Chief Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and others, has also been welcomed. Steve Backshall, Wildlife TV presenter and head of the Bite-Back Shark Finning Campaign, said: “[This] will be important in helping to restore the balance of the oceans [and] sends a clear message to the world that shark fin soup is in the history books, not the menu.

Claire Bass, Executive Director of Humane Society International / UK, said: “Achieving the plan will require real understanding and commitment on the part of Whitehall. Respecting animal welfare is not only the right thing to do for animals, it will also play a vital role in addressing global environmental and public health challenges such as climate change, resistance to antibiotics and pandemic prevention. “

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