Animals are Conscious
While attending a 2012 world-class event, many "big gun” scientists such as Christof Koch and Stephen Hawking attested to an extensive research's conclusion that animals have consciousness.
From Scientific American:
This privileged state of subjective awareness in fact goes well beyond Homo sapiens, according to the new Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness (pdf), which was signed last month by a group of cognitive neuroscientists, computational neuroscientists, neuroanatomists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists who attended the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals at Cambridge University in the U.K.
Related, the ability to communicate with the animal kingdom is an area of scientific research currently being developed. Empathy to suffering is of course more evident when those who are suffering can communicate such and people tend to be more sympathetic to such manifestations (Cows crying, etc.).
Here is an article on animal communication research: https://search.yahoo.com/search?p=Animal+Communication+Research&ei=UTF-8...