BVA has responded to the government’s update following a consultation on the Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill.
The announcement centred on a pledge to introduce tougher sentences for animal cruelty, with those who commit the most serious offences facing up to five years in prison compared to the current six-month maximum.
The response also contains a commitment to working with welfare organisations to ensure that animal sentience is properly recognised in legislation after the UK has withdrawn from the EU.
BVA has been campaigning hard for animal sentience to be enshrined in UK law before Brexit, and coordinated an open letter on the subject from nearly 1,200 vets, vet nurses and students towards the end of 2017.
John Fishwick, President of the British Veterinary Association, said: “It’s of course encouraging to see that the government is committed to enshrining animal sentience in law before we leave the EU, but with time running out the government must ensure that these words are translated into decisive action.
“Recognising animals as sentient beings sends a strong signal to the global community that the UK continues to be a world leader when it comes to animal welfare. It’s imperative that the government earmarks enough time in an increasingly crowded legislative agenda to bring it into law.”