A proposal to recognize animal sentience has been launched in the Nuevo León region of Mexico.
Fighting for sentient recognition are Animal Equality, the United Collective for Animal Welfare, and 10 legislators from the Citizen Movement Party. Deputy Iraís Virginia Reyes de la Torre also supports the bill.
If approved, the proposal will see Nuevo León become one of Mexico’s most animal welfare-forward regions.
The bill aims to ensure that all animals are treated in a manner that offers them enhanced wellbeing and dignity. Citizens will have a duty to commit to shared guardianship of non-human beings, including those that have been abandoned.
Country-wide animal testing for cosmetics is already banned, following a successful bill proposal in 2021.
Individual states are governed by country-wide legislation, including the Federal Animal Health Act 2007 and General Wildlife Law 2000. But they also have the power to instigate their own welfare laws.
What will the animal sentience legislation do?
The sentience bill proposal will place responsibility on Nuevo León state officials to guarantee proper care of all animals in the region.
The success of the bill depends on a wider call for constitutional reform. If it is agreed that the constitution can be reframed, animal sentience can be considered for inclusion in the new wording.
The Animal Protection and Welfare Law for the Sustainability of the State of Nuevo León already classifies animals as sentient. However, the state’s political constitution will offer broader and more enforceable protection.
“We cannot deny that animals feel and that it is time to recognize it in state Constitutions,” Dulce Ramirez, executive director for Animal Equality said in a statement.
She continued: “We have the duty and responsibility to protect animals, respect their lives, and interests.”
“We will continue promoting initiatives like this one, which allows us to live in a more respectful world free of violence towards animals.”
If passed, the bill will require all local authorities to take animal sentience into account when undertaking any policy reform. For example, social programs and law modifications will have to be considered in terms of how they could impact animals physically and mentally.
Animal sentience gaining recognition
Earlier this year, the UK government signed into law the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022, following royal assent in April.
It recognizes animals as living beings who are capable of experiencing thoughts and emotions. All vertebrates and some invertebrate animals, including octopuses and crabs, are protected by the law.
Germany and Spain also recognize animals as living beings, removing “possession” and “object” status from them.