Animal welfare defined: the Five Freedoms

“The Five Freedoms” is a core concept in animal welfare that originated in a UK government report in 1965 and was then refined by the Farm Animal Welfare Council. It states that an animal’s primary welfare needs can be met by safeguarding the following five freedoms:

  1. Freedom from Hunger and 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 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.

The Five Freedoms is frequently referenced by animal welfare professionals across the world, especially in relation to farm animal care.

For more information, see Farm Animal Welfare Council
(From the CFHS website)

Animal Cruelty

sad-dog-istock_000011589690smallThe two general categories of animal cruelty are:

1) Neglect
Failure to provide the necessities of life, such as food, water, shelter, and necessary care would be considered neglect.

Failing to provide necessary care could include:

  • Allowing a collar to grow into the animal’s skin, overgrowth of nails/hooves, resulting in the nails/hooves growing into the skin or upturned hooves.
  • Confinement in an area without adequate lighting, ventilation, or in unsanitary conditions.
  • Lack of enrichment and exercise.
  • Starvation, dehydration, inadequate shelter, parasite infestation, and failure to provide medical care when needed are all examples of neglect.

Many neglect cases are often a result of owner’s ignorance and can be resolved by law enforcement agencies, educating the owner and issuing orders to improve the animals overall living conditions. If an owner fails to make the required changes in a specified period of time, the animal may be seized and charges may be laid by authorities appointed under the AHPA.


2) Intentional Cruelty

Intentional cruelty is the deliberate physical harm or injury inflicted on an animal. Sadly cases of poisoning, beatings, burnings, shootings, and stabbings are not uncommon. These cases are normally charged under the Canadian Criminal Code rather than the provincial AHPA. Cases being charged under the Criminal Code will generally need an eyewitness to the event who are willing to testify in court.

Some common signs of animal neglect that should be reported to authorities may include:

  • Wounds on the body.
  • Severely overgrown nails (often curling under) or hooves (often curling upwards).
  • Patches of missing hair.
  • Extremely thin, starving animals with ribs or backbone protruding.
  • Infected eyes that have been left untreated.
  • Limping.
  • Animals who are repeatedly left alone without food and water. Often they are chained up in a yard.
  • Animals who have been hit by cars and have not received veterinary attention.
  • Animals who are kept outside without shelter in extreme weather conditions.
  • An owner kicking, hitting or physically abusing an animal.
  • Animals who cower fearfully or act aggressively when their owners approach.
  • Severe flea or tick infestations left untreated.
  • Animals left in a car on a hot or cold day.
  • Animals crammed into tiny cages in overcrowded conditions.
  • Abandonment (often when pet owners move or by unprofitable farmers).
  • Reptiles with dull, darkened skin, tremors, gaping mouth and excessive saliva, or experiencing difficulty climbing.
  • Aquatic and amphibious creatures kept in tanks with murky water.
  • Illegal trapping of wild animals or animals left for extended periods in traps.
  • Excessive scratching of the head area, shaking of the head and dirt or discharge in ears indicative of a possible ear infection.
  • Chronic diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Animals kept in dirty conditions including being forced to stand in their own urine and excrement.
  • Swellings, such as tumors or abscesses, left untreated.
  • Rabbits with a severe head tilt.
  • Slaughter by untrained individuals.

Take action against Animal Cruelty

ages_3_6_istock_18340256_pet_girl_cry_460x308All too often abused and neglected animals are left to suffer, because witness’ “just don’t want to get involved”. If you are concerned that an animal may be in distress, please be “their voice”, do not ignore it. Your actions could help save a life.

To report a case of suspected animal cruelty please call your local police enforcement agency or your nearest RCMP detachment.