5 Freedoms – 50 Years of animal rights for furry friends

It happened over fifty years ago, and Britain never looked back. The five freedoms, also called Brambell's five freedoms were inspired by a 1965 government report on livestock welfare. It's a collection of basic rights for animals under human control, those we farm for food and those who perform tasks for us, for example working horses and dogs.

The research was led by Professor Roger Brambell, who explored the welfare of intensively farmed animals, partly in response to a shocking book brought out in 1964, Ruth Harrison's Animal Machines.

The freedoms it lists are used by vets, farmers and anyone who owns, breeds, raises or works with animals, and they've been adopted as best practice by a host of organisations including the World Organisation for Animal Health, the RSPCA and more.

The Brambell Report said the animals we interact with deserve the freedom to "stand up, lie down, turn around, groom themselves and stretch their limbs", an extremely clear, short, simple and transparent set of rules to follow, one everyone can understand. 

The Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Committee was born shortly afterwards to keep an eye on the livestock production industry, later replaced by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, whose website says:

“The welfare of an animal includes its physical and mental state and we consider that good animal          welfare implies both fitness and a sense of well-being. Any animal kept by man, must at least, be protected from unnecessary suffering.

We believe that an animal's welfare, whether on farm, in transit, at market or at a place of slaughter should be considered in terms of 'five freedoms'. These freedoms define ideal states rather than standards for acceptable welfare. They form a logical and comprehensive framework for analysis of welfare within any system together with the steps and compromises necessary to safeguard and improve welfare within the proper constraints of an effective livestock industry.”

Britain leads the animal welfare way

By December 1965 Brambell's 5 freedoms were transcribed into a short, sweet list and the lives of animals in Britain changed for the better, forever.

The RSPCA is dedicated to the five freedoms, believing that “anyone responsible for looking after animals should try to give them the five freedoms”.  Which means our pets are involved, not just farm and working animals. 

Fifty years after the freedoms were drafted, Britain is still known worldwide for its excellent animal welfare record, a nation of animal lovers dedicated to their pets, compassionate towards the creatures we eat and – unlike far too many other countries - aware of our fellow creatures' feelings.  

The five freedoms all animals should enjoy

1.     Freedom from hunger or thirst – Easy access to fresh water plus a healthy diet to maintain full health and vigour. In the case of your dog, a top quality dog food designed to include all the nutrition they need without additives and other rubbish. Our premium natural dog food is an excellent example!

2.     Freedom from discomfort – An appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area. For your dog that's a safe, comfy, warm bed where he or she can rest and relax undisturbed.

3.     Freedom from pain, injury or disease – Preventing disease, giving a rapid diagnosis and treatment. In the case of a pet dog this means keeping an eye on them and taking them straight to the vet if they show signs of feeling poorly, and taking your vet's advice.

4.     Freedom to express normal behaviour - Providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind. Dogs love other dogs, but they also adore human company. As long as your pooch isn't lonely and bored, and you provide plenty of walks, exercise and play, you're doing the right thing.

5.     Freedom from fear and distress - Ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering. Dogs are very like humans: they hate to be alone, love company, enjoy play, and now and again they might feel nervous, threatened, scared or wary, in which case they need plenty of reassurance and love.

Reading the list, it really isn't a lot to ask. It's sad to think about the conditions the animals we rely on suffered before the Government of the time took action. And it's great to know that in the UK in 2015, these basic animal rights are set in stone. 

Your ideas on doggie rights

Aside from the five freedoms, which extra 'freedom' do you think is most important for your pooch? How about play, or love, or company? Why not join us on our Facebook page and share your feelings? You'll find us at www.facebook.com/poochandcompany