New bill will protect animals

Saturday 25th June 2022 9:30 am
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Martin Heath Column
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The animal Sentience bill received Royal Assent in April 22 and is now law.

The penalty for breaking the law has been increased from six months in prison to five years.

There are many aspects of this bill which make it a first in the world, and all animal charities like the RSPA and Devon Wildlife trust have welcomed it.

I think it may take some time for the full implications of this additional bill to sink in. We now have to think about all animals as thinking creatures and not just objects for our enjoyment. Maybe we should all become a Doctor Doolittle and really appreciate that animals do understand a lot more than we humans know!

All animals are equal under the law now and must be protected from other species that could hurt and threaten them if under our care – even to the point of not stressing them.

The main addition the Sentience Act brings is, vertebrates – which are mammals and birds – have a mind to know they are alive, have needs for their species and if in our care, need protection from pain and stress.

It includes pets, zoo animals, kept animals and livestock, in fact, every animal we care for. It also includes wildlife through the Wildlife Act. There are some special animals like rodents that can be killed, but under licence.

Animal charities have been asking for this a long time and it would be fair to say that this new addition to animal care and welfare is a landmark bill and one of the toughest in the world. I think we in the UK should be proud of this and on this issue should thank the house of Lords where this bill started and the government for voting it through.

This is a wake-up bill and hopefully will weed out those bad pet owners and animal keepers. And just maybe, make people think twice about keeping pets and animals if they can not give them the life and protection that they deserve and is now enshrined in law.

We may be a country of animal lovers, but too many people keep pets and either don’t have the time to look after them, and now with everything going up, don’t have the money to keep them. If you are struggling to look after an animal properly, then don’t be worried about asking for help from charities like the RSPCA before anything gets worse. It’s not a crime to say you are struggling, but it is now to ignore the situation.

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