The government has pledged that the principle will come into law as part of a package of measures on key animal health and welfare issues.
The action on sentience would mean that animals are recognised in domestic law as sentient beings, and that the welfare of sentient animals is taken into consideration in Government policy-making.
The BVA led a long campaign for the principle of animal sentience to be embedded in law, which saw over 1,200 veterinary professionals signing an open letter in support. However, the progress with embedding the principle stalled with other demands on parliamentary time and the Government is still looking for the right legislative vehicle to introduce it.
BVA president, Daniella Dos Santos, said: “We’re pleased to see animal sentience back on the Government’s agenda and hope that this signifies the final push needed to get this fundamental principle of animal welfare over the line and into law.
“BVA and others were disappointed that sentience didn’t clear the hurdles to come into legislation ahead of Brexit after such a longstanding and concerted campaign backed by significant public and professional strength of feeling.
She added: “In setting out these proposals today, we hope that the Government will now grasp this golden opportunity to make the UK’s status as a global leader on animal welfare resoundingly clear and find the means to bring sentience into law without further delay.
“We look forward to reviewing the new proposals in detail to ensure that the new legislation carries weight and is tailored to deliver the best possible protections for all species.”