Lay people have acknowledged for hundreds of years that animals have consciousness. We see it when a dog or cat is trying to figure out a new stimulus. We see it when they dream. When a dog sleeps, he may rapidly move his paws, he may whimper, you see his eyes rapidly moving back and forth and we can see that he is in the deep stages of REM. We know that he is dreaming, but we may not know what he is dreaming about. The very fact that he is dreaming proves his sentience. If you have no consciousness, then you can’t dream.
Over the last hundred years or so, science has begun catching up to what most people already knew. Animals are sentient beings. It seems absurd to the average dog owner, but scientists are uncomfortable with the idea of consciousness in animals. If an animal is aware of his surroundings and can feel pain, then blinding him with cosmetics in test studies suddenly seems more cruel. Accepting that animals are conscious beings went against previously held beliefs and conventional wisdom at the time. Realizing that animals are conscious beings meant developing and testing new theories. However, science is now accepting the fact that animals have feelings. According to Dr Jaak Panskepp, a neuroscientist at Washington State University, animals are capable of these core emotions;
1 December 2009 was a big day for European animals!