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Published: Oct 22, 2012

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has confirmed something that most pet owners already know. Animals have the ability to feel, perceive and have subjective experiences.

The association recently released a position statement on this matter and is one of the first animal health organizations in the U.S. to officially take a stance on animal sentiency.

"Veterinarians have always known that domestic pets have emotions and can experience pain and fear," said Dr. Rod Jouppi, chair of AAHA's Animal Ethics and Welfare Committee. "Sentience refers to these characteristics and AAHA wants to ensure that our profession clearly states that pets have a special place in our homes and in our hearts, and certainly deserve to be included within the sphere of sentience."

While the designation by the AAHA may change the thinking of some non-pet owners, it is not a surprise to anyone who's ever had a cat, dog or other pet. After all, the pure joy and exuberance a dog exhibits when his owner comes home from work, or the way a cat purrs when snuggling with his owner is reason enough for anyone to believe that our pets have feelings, too!