The Five Freedoms (Roger Brambell, 1965)
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 behavior 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 outline the responsibilities we have toward our pets. Let’s look at them one by one and see what they really mean, and how they may impact our lives, finances and ultimately the decisions we will make when choosing a pet.
1. Freedom from hunger or thirst
Pretty simple, right? Give them food and water, however some pets have special needs, and may need expensive specialty diets to maintain health. A pet fed on a good quality, nutritious, well balance food will have a healthy skin/coat, good digestive system and be active well into old age. Food must be fresh and available in suitable quantities for the type of animal, activity level, breeding status and ideal weight of the animal.
This must be given regardless of your other expenses or financial commitments.
Clean drinking water, changed daily should be available at all times.
2. Freedom from discomfort
Your pet should have adequate bedding which must be appropriate for the type of animal, and should be washed or changed as it becomes soiled. Blankets can be purchased quite cheaply through your local second hand clothing store, and straw bedding can often be sourced though your local farmer. There are many ways we can keep our pets comfortable without spending a fortune.
Your pet should be able to find a cool, shady spot to rest in summer, and be able to avoid the winter cold and rain. A shelter must be provided which is large enough to provide cover from the elements and allow room to move. Although not all pets can be kept inside, it is important to consider their comfort and take the necessary steps to ensure wellbeing.
3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease
It is our responsibility as pet owners to provide Veterinary care as soon as our pets become ill, or show signs of pain/discomfort or obvious injury.
Many illnesses/conditions, when diagnosed early, can be managed or treated effectively so the best things you can do for your pet is to visit with your Vet to formulate a health care plan.
If we are lucky enough to have a beloved pet in our lives through to old age, it is our responsibility to ensure they are kept comfortable, which at times means ongoing arthritis medications, pain relief and regular blood checks to make sure the organs are functioning as they should.
Veterinary treatment must be provided regardless of your current financial situation, and provisions must be made for any unforeseen expenses either with Pet insurance, or a savings plan. Luckily we have a wonderful organization call “Vetpay” who are there to lend a helping hand with those added expenses like emergency treatment and care. Once a credit check is completed, and the initial 10 – 20% deposit is paid, the remainder is divided into affordable fortnightly installments, allowing us the ability to pay for treatments otherwise unaffordable to us.
Finally, when the time has come and quality of life is no longer there, it is our responsibility to provide the last act of kindness and have our pets humanely laid to rest.
4. Freedom to express (most) normal behavior
All animals have behaviours which are natural to them. Dogs will bark, cats will sharpen their claws, birds will chew. It is our duty as pet owners to provide our pets with the ability to express their natural behaviours, although at times we can modify or channel what comes naturally.
The enclosure or cage your pet is to be kept in must allow for physical and mental stimulation. Consider the environment natural to your pet and attempt to replicate this. It need not cost a fortune and may be as simple as choosing a bigger cage, using natural branches for birds, buying or making enrichment toys, providing stimulation in the form of regular outings or training sessions or having a compatible companion animal.
5. Freedom from fear and distress
Animals are living beings with feelings and needs, not a possession or commodity. They must be handled correctly, and protected from things which may cause them fear or distress at all times.
This means different things to different animals:
A caged bird may feel very threatened and distressed if they constantly have our family cat sitting watching it.
A dog may feel distress if they are kept in total isolation in the back yard without exercise or companionship.
Yelling, hitting, confinement or withholding food and water are never acceptable treatments of animals.
We must take steps to ensure our pets have security and are treated kindly.