Sir, – As we are a nation of animal lovers, it’s hard to believe that UK law doesn’t currently recognise animals as being able to feel joy, pain, fear and excitement.

No one who has ever seen a cow going outside for the first time after a winter indoors, a hen dust bathing, or a pig wallowing in a fresh patch of mud would be in any doubt that animals are sentient. I am shocked that we even find ourselves in this position.

During the 1990s, Compassion in World Farming – a charity I have long supported – campaigned tirelessly on this issue, resulting in the recognition of animal sentience becoming enshrined in EU law and for this to be given full regard by governments when making and implementing policy.

However, for the past year, following the UK’s departure from the EU, this important protection has been lost. As a vet, I just cannot comprehend that farm animals are currently only seen as ‘goods’ in the eyes of the law. It’s nonsensical.

Thanks to Compassion and other NGOs, MPs are currently debating the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill in Parliament. This will ensure that animals are once again legally recognised as sentient, thinking beings.

The Bill has just passed its Committee Stage in the House of Commons, but we aren’t over the finish line just yet, so it’s vital MPs vote in support of the Bill when it has its final stages (March 7).

We don’t need any more dither or delay. What we need is to reinstate the important principle of animal sentience in UK law.

Dr Emma Milne BVSC FRCVS, Vet and supporter of Compassion in World Farming.