People often point to the sentience of animals when advocating for animal rights. Animals are conscious beings that are able to feel sensations and emotions in response to the world. When a dog is hit, he will feel pain and may develop a fear of some humans. When people take away a calf from his mother, both animals often grieve. While animal sentience is pretty obvious to most people, animals are often categorized as property and not given any fundamental rights. However, times are changing and so are laws around the world.

In Switzerland, citizens are voting on whether monkeys and apes can have fundamental rights; in Spain, domestic animals will be considered “living beings” instead of mere objects; and the Jane Goodall Act in Canada would grant legal standing to great apes, elephants, and cetaceans, recognizing them as sentient individuals rather than property.

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Source: The Independent/YouTube

Recently, the British government also officially recognized animals as “sentient beings” rather than “property” or “objects.” Animals now have legal protections, which UK lawmakers are currently working on expanding. This includes stopping live animal exports as well as banning the imports of hunting trophies, shark fins, and ivory among other provisions. Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/U.K., wrote a blog post to celebrate these “big steps forward for animals in the United Kingdom.” She continued, “We welcome this legislation, while also calling for it to be strengthened.”

Sadly, this type of “sentient being” law is rare in Europe. Sign this petition to tell the European Union to pass laws declaring that all animals are “sentient beings” with rights to legal protection!

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To continue speaking up, sign these other petitions as well:

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