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An Aussie First: Recognising The Feelings Of Animals

The ACT is proposing to become the first Australian state/territory to formally recognise the ability of animals to feel emotions. Yes, you read correctly… The ACT government are up to considering proposed changes from the public consultation. Later this year, The Legislative Assembly will look to these changes for the final piece of welfare legislation. The thing to consider the most here is sentience. It commits the government to acknowledging that an animal can be physically healthy, but suffering mentally. The ACT will join the likes of New Zealand, Canada and Europe if sentience is included in the amended animal welfare laws.

Have You Ever Wondered If It’s Actually Guilt Running Through Your Dog’s Mind?

It actually isn’t guilt. They’re expressing confusion, and sometimes, anxiety. But it wasn’t until the 18th century that philosophers and scientists recognised that animals were not only conscious, but they are sentient. In other words, they have an ability to feel or perceive. It’s actually not very simple at all. Sentient animals may choose different responses based on their environment or internal state. All animals with spines, e.g. mammals, birds, amphibians, etc., are considered to be sentient. However, insects and some crustaceans haven’t proved to be sentient. They could well and truly be on their way though. Look at the monkey so shocked at the smell of his/her anus that it causes him/her to faint with disgust:

via GIPHY

So now with this information that animals do have feelings, where does that leave us humans? We have to look to our own moral and ethical code of conduct. This is where ‘animal rights’ come into play. Like anything though, there are varying degrees. There are people who believe that no amount of harm towards an animal for human gain is worth the suffering. It doesn’t make you a bad person if you, say, still eat meat. Most people are a mixture of different moral views on the subject.

Image SourceMikhail Vasilyev

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