Animals to be recognized as sentient in U.K. — Here’s why that matters

By Claire Bass

By on May 14, 2021 with 0 Comments

The animal protection movement made some great progress this week when the U.K. announced new legal recognitions for animals and a plan to improve animal welfare policies. Here, Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/U.K., explains what this means for animals.

As the political dust from Brexit continues to settle, Humane Society International/U.K. celebrates big steps forward for animals in the United Kingdom. Animals are now to be legally recognized as sentient beings thanks to the U.K. government’s first-ever Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which commits to new policies and laws that will improve the treatment of animals in the U.K. and abroad. For years, HSI/U.K. has campaigned on many of the issues in the plan, including the legal recognition of animals as beings who have feelings and emotions.

The flagship legislation will create a new cross-government Animal Sentience Committee, as well as requiring government ministers to take animal welfare into account when making and implementing policies and laws. We welcome this legislation, while also calling for it to be strengthened.

The U.K. government often states that it wants to lead the world on animal welfare, and the action plan identifies several areas where action for animals may now be taken unilaterally following the U.K.’s departure from the European Union. These include: banning live exports of animals for slaughter or fattening; steps toward banning the use of inhumane cages for hens and immobilizing crates for pigs; banning the keeping of primates as pets; and, banning imports of detached shark fins.

The action plan will also renew considerations to restrict the sale and import of fur in the U.K. Because HSI/U.K. leads the campaign for a #FurFreeBritain, we are delighted to see the government taking seriously the call and opportunity for the U.K. to become the first country in the world to ban fur sales. Closing the door on the fur trade is not only critical to stop animal suffering, it is also key to addressing the human health risks posed by fur farms. A recent risk assessment from international organisations such as the World Health Organization stated that the public health risk from the SARS-CoV-2 spillover from fur farms to humans in Europe is “high.”

The action plan also reaffirmed the U.K. government’s commitment to another of HSI’s global priorities, a ban on the import of hunting trophies, such as mounted rhinoceros heads. Our team is urging ministers to ensure that the ban is the strongest in the world, avoiding the type of loopholes present in the U.S. system, which allow trophies to be imported under a permit system that is both ineffective for animal protection and conservation, and legally burdensome.

The Action Plan for Animal Welfare and new sentience law have the potential to set the bar high for animal welfare progress in the U.K. and in the other parts of the world. Crucial to this success will be ensuring that animal welfare wins in the U.K., such as bans on caging and crating farm animals, are not undermined by trade negotiations that would allow imports of lower welfare products produced overseas.

Delivering meaningful, once-in-a-lifetime change for animals will require a resolve for the U.K. government not to buckle in the face of pressure from those with vested interests in inhumane products and practices. The HSI/U.K. team will continue working closely with the government, backed by the voices of our passionate supporters, to seize this opportunity and ensure that ambitious aims are met with meaningful action and equally ambitious and robust legislation.

How you can help puppy mill dogs right now

By on May 12, 2021 with 1 Comment
How you can help puppy mill dogs right now

Earlier this week, we released our Horrible Hundred report, a roundup of 100 puppy mills that keep churning out dogs in dismal conditions to be sold through pet stores, flea markets and websites across the country. This report gained headlines in top local media outlets, . . . 

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Documents reveal USDA skipping inspections at animal laboratories

By on May 11, 2021 with 2 Comments
Documents reveal USDA skipping inspections at animal laboratories

The U.S. Department of Agriculture secretly implemented a new procedure in 2019 to skirt its responsibility to animals at some research laboratories, documents obtained by Harvard Law School’s Animal Law and Policy Clinic and covered in Science Magazine, reveal. While dogs, rabbits, primates and other . . . 

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Our Horrible Hundred report exposes 100 puppy mills that sell to pet stores and online

By on May 10, 2021 with 7 Comments
Our Horrible Hundred report exposes 100 puppy mills that sell to pet stores and online

What dog lovers don’t know about where their beloved puppies come from can hurt them. When puppies are born to emaciated, sick or injured dogs in cramped and dirty wire cages, the physical and mental toll can extend throughout their lives, impacting their behavior and . . . 

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How our India team fed 18,000 street dogs during the pandemic

By on May 6, 2021 with 2 Comments
How our India team fed 18,000 street dogs during the pandemic

In India right now, the latest Covid-19 surge is having an overwhelming impact on the country’s people and infrastructure. Our supporters from around the world have reached out to express their concern for our team at Humane Society International/India. Alokparna Sengupta, India managing director, and . . . 

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Eleven Madison Park going plant-based is a gamechanger. Here’s why.

By on May 4, 2021 with 1 Comment
Eleven Madison Park going plant-based is a gamechanger. Here’s why.

Eleven Madison Park is an internationally renowned restaurant in New York City; it has three Michelin stars and is regularly listed as one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. And when its pandemic-shuttered dining room reopens in June, its menu will be plant-based. Here’s how . . . 

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South Africa to clamp down on exploitative captive lion industry

By on May 3, 2021 with 4 Comments
South Africa to clamp down on exploitative captive lion industry

A key panel appointed by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment in South Africa recommends banning captive lion breeding and the commercial trade of lion parts such as lion skeletons. Humane Society International/Africa has been a key player in the campaign to phase . . . 

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NRA chief’s agonizing elephant hunt shows what’s wrong with trophy hunting

By on April 28, 2021 with 16 Comments
NRA chief’s agonizing elephant hunt shows what’s wrong with trophy hunting

The New Yorker broke a story yesterday about the head of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, attempting to kill an endangered elephant in Botswana. The newly released footage exemplifies the blithe depravity of trophy hunting. The video shows LaPierre’s botched attempt to kill an . . . 

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Puppy Protection Act would end some of the worst puppy mill cruelties

By on April 27, 2021 with 14 Comments
Puppy Protection Act would end some of the worst puppy mill cruelties

We all know what dogs love: a comfortable napping spot, a romp in the grass, a kind touch and the safety and security of a caring environment. But thousands of dogs in commercial breeding operations licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to sell to . . . 

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Arkansas ‘Working Animals’ bill jeopardizes animals and citizens. Here’s why.

By on April 26, 2021 with 2 Comments
Arkansas ‘Working Animals’ bill jeopardizes animals and citizens. Here’s why.

One of the most successful political channels through which advocates have been able to take a stand for animals in recent years is by securing the passage of local ordinances to regulate or end practices associated with animal cruelty and suffering. But vested interests in . . . 

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Idaho lawmakers on verge of sanctioning a carnage of 90% of the state’s wolves

By on April 23, 2021 with 15 Comments
Idaho lawmakers on verge of sanctioning a carnage of 90% of the state’s wolves

UPDATE (5/7/21): Despite overwhelming opposition from Idaho residents, professional wildlife biologists and managers and state fish and game commissioners, Gov. Brad Little signed S. 1211 into law on May 5. We urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to uphold its obligations to review and . . . 

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House revives bill to end shark fin trade that passed during last session

By on April 22, 2021 with 5 Comments
House revives bill to end shark fin trade that passed during last session

A bill to end all commercial trade in the United States of shark fins and shark fin products was reintroduced in the U.S. House today. The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, H.R. 2811, already enjoys great support in Congress and a previous version passed the . . . 

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