The last few weeks I have explored the Five Freedoms/ domains and the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Under the Animal Welfare Act all Animals have the rights to:
Freedom from hunger, thirst or malnutrition
Freedom from discomfort
To be able to exhibit normal behaviours
Freedom from fear and distress
To be protected from pain, suffering, disease and illnesses.
In this blog I will be sharing my opinion of what the five freedoms and the animal welfare act means to me.
In an ideal world the dog training industry would be regulated and dog trainers and behaviourist would be protected titles with external verification and a pledge to do no harm, just like the hippocratic oath.
It really puzzles me that we have the above law in the UK and very rarely see it in action, if the law was followed to the letter, pet shops would be regulated and would look very different, and the pet food industry would be regulated. Veterinary practices would also look very different with stronger regulation and holistic practitioners would also have to be regulated.
Anyone can currently and does set up a Facebook page overnight and claim to be an experienced dog trainer, behaviourist, walker, hydrotherapist, physiotherapist, nutritionist, groomer and the list goes on and on and on.
Voluntary dog training membership organisations leave a lot to be desired, with some having much better standards than others and much better education opportunities than others.
If the dog world is in disarray amongst professionals, what about the poor guardians trying to navigate who to hire, what food to give, which vet to use, which veterinary advice to follow and which to challenge. How many times do they accept a diagnosis of “you are an over dramatic dog owner?”
What about the “dog professional” who promises a quick fix via aversion and compulsion based methods? What about other professionals that leave a lot to be desired and the ethics are not quite in line with what their website states? What about those who have faked qualifications?
This is why I feel the UK needs a massive shake up! Dog professionals need to be externally verified independent of their organisation. Their title needs to be protected. All organisations must follow one ethos and as soon as there are concerns, this is immediately investigated.
All professionals have a duty of care to then best educate guardians to which is ethically moral and sound for the welfare for dogs.
No we cannot prevent all illnesses, diseases and negative experiences but can we be a part of a solution instead of the problem? Absolutely! If people were genuine and waited to shadow, learn, gain qualifications and become certified (not offer student discount rates - unethical) and organisations policed their members harder and all professionals agreed to abide by the law there would be no shock collars, prongs, chokes, harnesses that compress organs, air horns, sprays or the whole list of horrible devices.
But until the UK government knows what a shock collar is and what it does, understand how a prong works and the Prime minister himself stopped using a slip lead. Well.
It's up to those of us wholly committed to ethical dog welfare standards that need to steer the industry. To educate guardians and keep guiding guardians into the right direction so that the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is never broken and dog welfare is a priority not a “the dog must obey so the law doesn't exist.”
Anyone of us who is properly educated, part of a membership organisation, properly insured and can sleep at night knowing we are doing our best with gentle methods with welfare at the forefront of our work. We know we are our authentic selves. Those who might be cringing. Well. It's never too late to become a better and honest person. If you can't do that you don't belong in our industry.
Image description: A three pane comic strip. The top left window has a yellow orange background with a grey and cream Wolfdog. The Wolfdog is saying "Dick the pr@&k invented shock collars in 1973... 50 years later thanks to evolution... The bottom left window has a grey and cream Wolfdog with a thought hubble behind him with electronic peices as a blueprint. The final window on the right which is one window has a blue background with the comic ZAP with lightning and a WTF in comic style. The Wolfdog is holding a paw to his chin looking thoughtful, his thought bubble is a skeleton with an electric shock collar being zapped!
For Mutts & Mischief
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