Leyland Hedgehog Rescue calling on Preston and South Ribble MPs to support Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill

A Leyland charity is calling on MPs to support a proposed law protecting sentient creatures.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 3:45 pm

The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill will reach its final stages in Parliament on Monday following debate by MPs. If passed, UK law would recognise vertebrate critters, including marine life like lobsters, crabs, octopuses and cuttlefish, as thinking beings who can feel pain and experience emotions, such as pleasure, fear and joy.

Mary Swindlehurst, who runs Leyland Hedgehog Rescue, hopes tighter welfare laws will help stop animal suffering.

She said: "There are a million and one ways people are cruel [to animals]. It makes me feel sick.

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Mary Swindlehurst, who runs Leyland Hedgehog Rescue.

"We’ve got to get over thinking they are just there for our benefit. Every little thing has its own life.

“All animals are sentient. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be afraid of us. Once you pick up a hedgehog, they start to stress and [as a result], parasites can multiply in them. If you go near a hedgehog, it will roll up in a ball because it’s afraid. When I go to clean their cages, they scurry inside their nest and hide.”

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Mary added: “The more we care for our animals and planet, the better for everyone in the long run. It is going to cost money and some people are not going to like it but it’s time we got to grips with tackling animal cruelty and start caring more.”

Mary believes the proposed changes could make it easier for authorities to regulate animal charities and sanctuaries.

“I think what [the bill] might do is help to make rescues more accountable," she said.

"Maybe somebody will check we’re doing things properly but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. We need laws and regulations."

Sentient animals were previously protected in Britain under EU law. This was lost after the 2016 Referendum when MPs voted against including animal sentience in the EU Withdrawal Bill the following year.

Charities like the RSPCA and Cats Protection have since been campaigning for the law to be reinstated. And with some 86% of British people supporting the bill, according to the RSPCA, the Government has now proposed an Animal Sentience Committee to assess how wildlife welfare is considered when setting policies.