|This bearded dragon may be small and inexpensive, but can you meet its five welfare needs?|
What advice to you give owners who are about to purchase a companion animal? In the UK, The British Veterinary Association, British Small Animal Veterinary Association, British Veterinary Zoological Society and the Fish Veterinary Society worked together to produce a Policy Statement on Non-Traditional Companion Animals. You can read this excellent document here.
It’s a brief but very helpful guide for owners and veterinarians, and contains some key information. UK legislation is very clear about the obligations of companion animal owners. They must meet the five animal welfare needs of animals. These are:
- The need for a suitable environment
- The need for a suitable diet
- The need to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
- Any need it has to be housed with or apart from other animals
- The need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
All of the above should be considered in terms of species-specific needs. In addition to ensuring one can meet these welfare needs, potential owners of any companion animals should be asking themselves three key questions:
- What aspects of your lifestyle and circumstances are likely to affect whether you will be able to meet the welfare needs of your would-be pet?
- How will you ensure that you obtain your pet from a reputable source which safeguards animal health and welfare?
- Can you ensure that the number and species of animals you keep in your home are compatible with your ability to meet each animal’s five welfare needs?
These are simple questions, but important to ask whether you’re considering adopting a kitten, puppy, budgie or python. Failing to address these before introducing a companion animal can lead to poor care, illness and suffering.
Doing your homework can ensure that any companion animal you share your life with has its needs met, and can ensure that these animals enjoy a life worth living.