I find it hard to believe that Summer is coming to an end. Although the heat has been oppressive at times and Brown Recluse spider activity is at an all-time high, I have enjoyed the freedom that Summer delivered. Reflecting on freedom as it relates to our pets, reminds me of The Five Freedoms.

The Five Freedoms are:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from discomfort
  3. Freedom from pain, injury, or disease
  4. Freedom to express normal behavior
  5. Freedom from fear and distress.

I first heard about The Five Freedoms during a presentation by Heather Mohan- Gibbons of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The Humane Society of United States (HSUS) explains on their website that The Five Freedoms were initially expressed by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) in England. The FAWC is now known as the Farm Animal Welfare Committee. HSUS goes on to state that although these guidelines may have originally been intended to protect farm animals, they apply to animals in every type of setting. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has collaborated with other veterinary groups to form an animal welfare statement consistent with The Five Freedoms.

HSUS suggests that many organizations do a good job tending to freedoms one through three, but often neglect four and five. Although I think people have made improvements in how well we protect animals’ mental suffering, we still have a long way to go. Moreover, this focus applies to our pets at home just as much as it does to animals elsewhere. So next time you provide care for an animal in your life, ask yourself how well that animal is protected from fear and distress. Also, consider whether the opportunities for that individual to express normal behavior are adequate.

 

photo credit: Marilou Haren.

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