Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and wildlife photographer Richard Bowler are among some of the prominent names who have criticised the United Kingdom government for not including “animal sentience” in the EU Withdrawal Bill.

“We are not plants, fungi or bacteria, so that makes us animals,” Dawkins tweeted. “At what point in our evolution do they think we became capable of feeling pain or emotions?”

Under laws in the European Union, animals are recognised as being capable of feeling pain and emotion, the Farming UK website said. The Theresa May government, which voted to exclude animal sentience from the law, argued that sentience is already covered in the UK’s Animal Welfare Act.

However, many disagree with the government’s position. Last week, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas pushed for an amendment that would ensure animal sentience is recognised under British law, The Canary reported. However, 313 MPs voted against the proposed change to the law. This may put thousands of animals that are not pets at risk of exploitation and abuse.

“It really beggars belief that in this day and age, this shower of a government no longer recognises animals as sentient beings,” Bowler wrote in a Facebook post. “None of them could have had a pet dog greet them when they come home.”

If the United Kingdom is to achieve Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s objective of attaining the highest possible animal welfare, it must include animal sentience into post-Brexit law, David Bowles, the head of public affairs of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was quoted as saying by The Independent.

Scientific evidence shows that animals possess feelings and emotions.