Celebrities, MPs, NGOs and No 10’s Larry the cat unite urging Boris Johnson to come good on his animal welfare pledge

Alesha Dixon, Evanna Lynch, Leona Lewis, MPs, forty animal charities, and Larry the cat call on PM to announce new animal sentience legislation

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Larry the Cat/Twitter Larry the Cat

LONDON—Celebrities, MPs, animal protection organisations and Number 10’s Larry the Cat have joined forces to call on the Prime Minister to prioritise legislation that recognises animals as sentient beings and enacts a duty to protect them when formulating and implementing policy, before the UK departs the EU.

Celebrity video messages of support for the #BetterDealforAnimals campaign were played at a Parliament event yesterday attended by 27 MPs. Larry the cat tweeted in support of the campaign saying, “I was delighted to receive more than 100,000 signatures from my friends at #BetterDealForAnimals as part of their campaign for animal sentience to be recognised; perhaps it could be called #LarrysLaw #BetterDealForAnimals.”

I was delighted to receive more than 100,000 signatures from my friends @HSIUKorg as part of their campaign for animal sentience to be recognised; perhaps it could be called #LarrysLaw#BetterDealForAnimals pic.twitter.com/Yr143X4cjN

— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) September 3, 2019

In his first speech as PM, Mr Johnson said: “Let’s promote the welfare of animals that has always been so close to the hearts of the British people.” Yet as it stands, deal or no deal, animals will lose vital legal protections on 31st October because EU laws recognising that they are sentient will no longer apply.

The #BetterDealForAnimals campaign is supported by forty of Britain’s largest and most effective animal charities including the RSPCA, Humane Society International, World Animal Protection and Compassion in World Farming. Campaigners stress that failure to bring forward the ‘sentience’ law would make animals vulnerable to the government creating new laws, policies or trade deals that don’t take animals’ welfare needs into account. For example, new trade deals could be agreed that would permit imports of lower welfare animal products – such as chicken carcasses washed in chlorine to mask low welfare standards, and meat and dairy produced from hormone-treated animals. See more examples of potential post-Brexit animal harm here.

Despite one of the most fraught days in Parliament’s history, 27 MPs from five political parties prioritised animals and attended the event, sponsored by Shadow Secretary of State for Environment Sue Hayman MP, Alistair Carmichael MP of the Lib Dems and Deidre Brock MP from SNP, to show their support for the new animal protection law. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Zac Goldsmith MP gave the keynote address and pressed that he would find the earliest possible opportunity to introduce animal sentience legislation adding “it’s hard to exaggerate how important animal welfare issues are to me, and as long as I am Minister for Animal Welfare, I’ll use every opportunity I can to advance this agenda.”

A Parliamentary e-petition, signed by more than 100,000 UK animal lovers, which calls for sentience to be recognised in law before we leave the EU closed on 27th August and was handed in to Number 10 Downing Street yesterday. The petition had already prompted a Parliamentary debate on animal sentience, but due to the chaos in parliament the debate has now been knocked down the priorities list and rescheduled to November.

Claire Bass, Executive Director of Humane Society International/UK, a #BetterDealForAnimals campaign partner, said: “Rescue puppy Dilyn has landed on his paws taking up residence at Number 11 this week, and Larry the cat looks relaxed on his window ledge, but the welfare of millions of other animals hangs in the balance. Mr Johnson has made promising proclamations about the importance of animal welfare but the clock is ticking to turn words into laws. The Prime Minister must listen to the public, MPs, celebrities and, of course, his in-house feline and canine special advisers, and prioritise legislation to ensure that animals don’t lose legal protections as a result of Brexit.”

Sonul Badiani-Hamment from World Animal Protection, a #BetterDealForAnimals campaign partner, said “It’s been over 18 months since the government declared that it would recognise in law that animals can think and feel, and afford them legal protection accordingly after Brexit. May’s government left this languishing and despite encouraging words from Mr Johnson, we’re now just weeks from leaving the EU with no legislation or parliamentary time in sight. With government and parliament fighting between themselves, animals are being entirely forgotten. Mr Johnson should listen to Larry the Cat, celebrities, MPs and the millions of animal lovers across the country and ensure animal sentience legislation is prioritised at the first opportunity.”

The #BetterDealForAnimals campaign has already been backed by over 100 MPs and peers across all parties: www.wcl.org.uk/better-deal-for-animals


Notes to Editors:

  1. The parliamentary event is sponsored by Sue Hayman MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
  2. The organisations supporting the #BetterDealForAnimals campaign are: Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Animal Aid, Animal Defenders International, Animal Equality, Animal Interfaith Alliance, Animal Protection Agency, Badger Trust, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Born Free Foundation, Catholic Concern for Animals, Cats Protection, Change for Animals Foundation, Christian Vegetarian Association, Compassion in World Farming, Cruelty Free International, Crustacean Compassion, Dogs Trust, Four Paws UK, The Humane League, HSI-UK, IFAW, International Animal Rescue, League Against Cruel Sports, Mayhew, Naturewatch Foundation, OneKind, Open Cages, PAAW House, PDSA, PETA, Quaker Concern for Animals, RSPCA, The Donkey Sanctuary, The Save Me Trust, The Shellfish Network, Treat Me Kind International, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Wild Welfare, World Animal Protection, Wildlife and Countryside Link
  3. The online petition to Parliament to “Recognise animal sentience & require that animal welfare has full regard in law” attracted 103,919 signatures and closed on 27th August  https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/242239

YouGov online polling of 1,825 adults between 4-5 February 2019 showed that:

  • Voters for all the main political parties believe that animal welfare laws should be maintained or made more extensive than they are now – 86% of Conservative voters, 84% of Labour voters and 82% of Lib Dem voters
  • 80% of the British public want post-Brexit Government trade deals to have clear requirements that imported animal products meet or exceed British animal welfare production standards. Only 6% say this should not be a requirement
  • Almost 7 out of 10 (68%) want legal requirements to ensure that animal welfare is protected, to the greatest extent possible, when new laws and policies are made. Only 3% oppose this
  • Less than a third (31%) of the public are confident that the UK Government will live up to its promises of being a world leader on animal welfare, 56% say they are not confident
  • Two-thirds (66%) want an animal protection committee established to give expert independent advice to government on safeguarding animal welfare

The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). YouGov is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by their rules.

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