Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare

The "Five freedoms of animal welfare" is something that I've been thinking about lately.

They were developed in 1965 from a UK report on livestock and have been used by then by groups and government around the world as a standard of how to treat animals - domestic and factory - properly, and with compassion.

The Five Freedoms are -

1. Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
4. Freedom to express (most) normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind
5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

When we think about our own companion animals - our dogs, it is an interesting list, and it wouldn't seem to be too difficult to follow all the things that it asks of us.

For number one - all we have to do is to properly feed our dogs and give them access to potable water at all times - which is something that we all do as responsible dog owners.

Number two is a given - anyone who reads this blog keeps their dogs inside with them, and lets them sleep wherever they like - on our beds, on the couch - wherever they want to sleep or hang out - no problem

Number three - we all take our dogs to the vet at the slightest hint that something may be wrong - I know that I totally micro-manage the health of all of my dogs - my vet's receptionists know my voice whenever I call them - I don't even have to say - "this is Joan calling" - they know exactly who I am whenever I say hello - that's how often I call them!

Number four is where it starts to get tricky though. What is normal behaviour? Would that be something like barking? Growling? Humping other dogs? Humping the cat? Running up into the woods behind your house and going for a bit of a walk-about? What is normal behaviour?

And how much normal behaviour does a 6 pound yorkie get to express when he has more clothing than a typical factory worker?

And then there's freedom number five - "freedom from fear and distress - by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering" - that is a whole can of worms that a lot of dog owners who really believe that they love their dogs - really would rather not think about that - and that relates to controlling that so-called "normal behaviour" that our dogs like to express - like barking too much, and not wanting to come to us the second we call them to us, and growling at other dogs - and a whole host of inappropriate things that our dogs can get up to.

We as dog loving people, and responsible dog owners - really have to think of our dogs first - and what is best for them - and not - what is easiest for us - when it comes to making it easy to live with the canine life companions that we have chosen for ourselves.

We have chosen them to live with us - not the other way around - and I don't think that we should use things that cause fear and intimidation in order to make them obey and immediately bow down to us.

That's not the kind of relationship I want to have with my dogs - I don't need them to turn on a dime, and when I'm out with them - the only time I ask them to come is when I actually need them to come to me - and guess what - they usually do. And I'm happy with that. And so are they.

No comments:

Post a Comment