The RSPCA has called for change after new research revealed less than half of people in the North West think chickens can feel happy – with bosses saying people "see many creatures as commodities".

According to polling conducted by Savanta, nine in 10 adults in the North West believe dogs can feel happy – but just four in ten think chickens can.

The charity, celebrating its 200th year, says the polling, based on a representative sample of 281 adults in the North West, shows a "stark difference" in the way people see animals.

According to the poll, in the North West: 92 per cent of people think dogs can experience positive emotions like happiness but only 33 per cent think rats can, and just 44 per cent think chickens can.

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People were also more likely to think their pet deserved a "happy and healthy life", with dogs at 91 per cent and rabbits at 84 per cent, compared to animals used in science, with just 59 per cent thinking rats in a lab deserved to live a happy and healthy life, and 62 per cent believing so for rabbits in a lab.

Just 27 per cent said they would be sad if pigs no longer existed in the world, compared to 74 per cent for dogs.

Now, the charity has launched the "For Every Kind" campaign, urging people to care about the lives of every animal and carry out one million acts of kindness, such as signing petitions or praising their pets, to mark its 200th anniversary.

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Chris Sherwood, chief executive of the RSPCA, said: “We are devoted to our cats and dogs, but we often don’t realise we are connected to billions of other animals in our lives, through the things we buy and the choices we make.

“All animals are amazing, but sadly we’ve come to see many creatures as commodities and we value their lives differently because of it. 

“As a society, we love our native birds, but turn a blind eye to the suffering of billions of meat chickens; we love the hedgehogs who visit our garden, but treat rats and foxes as pests.

“We need to realise that all animals have feelings and emotions, many can feel joy, anger, fear, and more, and whether they are pets, wildlife, on farms or in labs, they deserve to have a fulfilled life of their own.”

The Bolton News: The RSPCA's Chris Sherwood said animals 'deserve to have a fulfilled life of their own'The RSPCA's Chris Sherwood said animals 'deserve to have a fulfilled life of their own' (Image: RSPCA)

The majority of people in the poll saw foxes as a "threat" or "pointless", suggesting they don’t recognise their right to a good life.

Chris added: “All animals deserve our kindness and respect and the first step to changing the way we treat animals is changing how we see and feel about them. Which is why we are launching our For Every Kind campaign to mark our 200th year.

“A world that is better for animals, is better for us all.”

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