For the first time, animals will be formally recognized in British law as sentient beings. The new measures taken by the British government include a stop to the transport of live animals and a ban on the import of game trophies.
The reforms will be implemented through a series of legislative proposals. These relate in particular to farm animals and domestic animals in the United Kingdom. They will also provide protection for animals abroad, including a ban on ivory and shark fins.
George Eustice, the minister of the environment, claims that the measures are idealistically motivated:
We are a nation of animal lovers and were the first country in the world to adopt animal welfare laws. Our Animal Welfare Action Plan will deliver on our commitment to ban the export of live animals, to ban the Keeping of primates as pets and to introduce new laws to tackle the smuggling of puppies. As an independent nation, we can now go further than ever to build on our outstanding record.
The action plan includes a new task force that will take tough action against pet theft, which has become a growing problem during the ‘puppy tree’ in the corona-related lockdowns. Also, controversial electronic collars that release an electric shock to train pets will be banned. Import rules will also be changed to try to put an end to the smuggling of puppies.
These reforms have come about after long campaigns by animal rights organisations. For example, campaigns to ban the export of live animals have been running for decades. Other measures, such as the mandatory microchip of cats and the ban on keeping primates as pets, have also been in preparation for years.
However, the use of cages for poultry and incubators for pigs will not be prohibited, despite the campaigners’ insistence. Instead, its use will be examined and farmers will be encouraged to improve animal health and welfare through future subsidy schemes. There are 16 million sows and laying hens in the United Kingdom.