sen•tient (ˈsɛn ʃənt) adj.
1. having the power of perception by the senses; conscious.
2. characterized by sensation and consciousness.
be•ing (ˈbi ɪŋ) n.
1. the fact of existing; existence.
2. conscious, mortal existence; life.
3. essential substance or nature: the very core of my being.
4. something that exists: inanimate beings.
5. a living thing.
6. a human being; person.
On December 4, 2015, a new animal abuse law that was under debate in Quebec for several months passed into law. Quebec had always been notoriously known for its lax animal abuse laws and was also well known as a haven for puppy mills, so the passing of the bill was long overdue.
One of the news feeds that I read recently had an article about the law and some of the wording in it. The law has different rules for pet owners, livestock owners, pet shops, or people who are in the business of selling animal-based products such as furs. What is attracting attention worldwide is some of the wording in the law, particularly the part that states that animals are now “sentient beings” instead of being labeled as property. To quote the law;“ animals are not things. They are sentient beings and have biological needs.” And to quote the Agriculture Minister Pierre Paradis one of the main proponents of the law; “If you have a goldfish you have to take care of it. Don’t get a goldfish if you don’t want to take care of it.”
I’ve never discounted that all animals feel pain, have emotions and build strong relationships. I only have to look at Dos Gatos to see that, and I’ve experienced it with the other animals that have been part of our family over the years. Laws are slowly changing in Panama to reflect modern society, and the public is beginning to denounce offenders of the laws. It will take strong government will and assistance from local communities to demonstrate that animals are not property but creatures that deserve care and attention as much as any creature does. For now, that is all I can hope for…in the campo.
Those who define ‘us’ by our ability to introspect give a distorted view of what is important to and about human beings and ignore the fact that many creatures are like us in more significant ways in that we all share the vulnerability, the pains, the fears, and the joys that are the life of social animals. ~ Lynne Sharpe ~