The Animal Welfare Bill recognizes that animals are complex living and feeling beings and, as a result, their welfare must be taken into consideration and protected.
“This is a great day for animal welfare in the U.K,” said Ian Cawsey, director of advocacy and campaigns at The Donkey Sanctuary. “Acknowledging sentience means these issues can be part of future developments in animal welfare.
“The Donkey Sanctuary will always advocate for policy and legislation that helps to protect donkeys,” he added. “This law means we can also build the case for their well-being, which is a great opportunity to take animal welfare to a higher level. We look forward to playing our part to ensure this new law leads to better outcomes for donkeys, mules, and other animals.”
The Donkey Sanctuary is part of a coalition of more than 50 animal protection organizations that worked to progress the bill.
In the European Union (EU), Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU sets out that Member States should pay full regard to the welfare requirement of animals when formulating policies in certain areas, “since animals are sentient beings.” However, this principle was not incorporated into U.K. law following Brexit.
In the U.K., once a bill has completed all the parliamentary stages in the House of Lords and the House of Commons, it is ready to receive royal assent, when the Queen formally agrees to make the bill into an Act of Parliament (law).
The Donkey Sanctuary, which focuses its efforts on equine welfare, research, and veterinary care, operates programs worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry, and transportation.