I HAVE read the letters about whether animals feel pain as we do with increasing incredulity.

Some people may believe that other species cannot feel pain, but until it can be proved that they can't, surely we should err on the side of caution and behave as if they can.

It is unthinkable, surely, for most people to deliberately hurt other creatures. Those who get pleasure from hurting others are mentally or emotionally ill.

We are discovering more and more about the complicated relationships and societies that animals have within their own species.

These animal societies cannot exist in a vacuum. If they bleed, if they scream, if they cower, if they fight back, if they struggle, if they run away, surely that shows a sense both of pain awareness and fear of future pain.

The rule of thumb should be: if it looks like pain, if it sounds like pain, if it feels like pain, if it smells like pain then it is pain and we humans should refrain from causing it in others.

I have not got a vested interest in anything except the desire to live in a decent, humane world.

Frankie James, Burley Street, Ringwood, Hampshire.