Astoria Animal Hospital believes that animals are sentient beings and as such deserve respect and care simply for being alive. In a medical setting, occasionally we do things that they don’t like very much (nail trims, brushing, taking temperature, examining, and/or surgery) and we take the utmost care to proceed in accordance to the Five Freedoms. The following is a history of the Five Freedoms and what they are.
History (source Wikipedia)
In 1965, the UK government commissioned an investigation, led by Professor Roger Brambell, into the welfare of intensively farmed animals, partly in response to concerns raised in Ruth Harrison’s 1964 book, Animal Machines. The Brambell Report stated “An animal should at least have sufficient freedom of movement to be able, without difficulty, to turn around, groom itself, get up, lie down and stretch its limbs.” This short recommendation grew and became known as Brambell’s Five Freedoms.
As a result of the report, the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Committee was created to monitor the livestock production sector. In July 1979, this was replaced by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, and by the end of that year, the Five Freedoms had been codified into the recognizable list format.
The Five Freedoms outline five aspects of animal welfare under human control. They were developed in response to a 1965 UK Government report on livestock husbandry, and were formalized in 1979 press statement by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council. The Five Freedoms have been adopted by professional groups including veterinarians, and organizations including the World Organisation for Animal Health, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The Five Freedoms
The Five Freedoms ensure that we meet the mental and physical needs of animals in our care:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst by ready access to fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigor. This must be specific to the animal. For example, puppies, adult dogs, pregnant cats, and senior cats all need different types of food provided on different schedules.
- Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area. This means you should provide soft bedding and an area with appropriate temperature, noise levels, and access to natural light. If an animal is outside, it must have shelter from the elements as well as appropriate food and water bowls that will not freeze or tip over.
- Freedom from pain, injury, or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment. This includes vaccinating animals, monitoring animals, physical health, treating any injuries and providing appropriate medications.
- Freedom to express normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal’s own kind. Animals need to be able to interact with — or avoid — others of their own kind as desired. They must be able to stretch every part of their body (from nose to tail), and run, jump, and play. This can be particularly challenging when animals are housed in individual kennels.
- Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering. The mental health of an animal is just as important as its physical health — as psychological stress can quickly transition into physical illness. These conditions can be achieved by preventing overcrowding and providing sufficient enrichment and safe hiding spaces.