When you get a new pet, no one tells you your new pet has five main welfare needs that need to be met. But maybe they should, because they provide a framework for how we should care for dogs, cats, and other pets. The Five Freedoms tell us our pets have five welfare needs – diet, environment, health, companionship, and behaviour. If we don’t provide them for our pets, they will be stressed and unhealthy. It is also important to note that many behaviour problems are, at least to some extent, a result of the animal’s welfare needs not being met. All animals deserve to be properly taken care of whether it’s a dog or a chicken. When you adopt an animal you have made a commitment to them and it’s your responsibility to honour that. Just as it is illegal and morally wrong to hurt another human, it’s also wrong to hurt animals. They depend on us to take care of them and we depend on them for many things as well.
New Zealand’s animal welfare system is based on one law that covers everything to do with animal welfare – the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Any one who owns or is in charge of animals must follow this act. There is a set of animal welfare standards known as the ‘five freedoms’. They outline what animal owners and carers must give their animals. Farmers and others working in industries based on animal production must also follow the rules set out in the Animal Welfare Act. People are now a lot more aware of the need to care for animals and it is important for a company’s image to show that they treat animals well.
The five freedoms are an important part of the Animal Welfare Act 1999. New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to write the five freedoms into law. We need to provide our animals with the five freedoms at all times, so they can live happy and healthy lives. Almost all domesticated animals depend on humans to provide these things for them. Due to humans’ selective breeding of animals for thousands of years, these animals have not retained all of their natural instincts and behaviours that allowed their ancestors to survive in the wild.