The basic principles of animal welfare

When you love your pet, you don’t need encouragement to meet or exceed proper standards of care. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone who owns or cares for animals. That’s why local and national governments created a network of animal welfare statutes. These laws establish rules and principles for those who need guidance in proper animal treatment and care.

Henry Bergh was the first American to gain wide support for the animal welfare movement. He founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) at a time when animal cruelty was common. Bergh believed in the idea that “…all animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans…” That idea is at the root of all animal welfare principles.

Making Animal Welfare principles legal

The US Animal Welfare Act of 1966 set minimum standards for transportation, sale, handling, housing, and other animal-related activities. The federal guidelines apply primarily to animals held for research, testing, and other commercial purposes. Animal welfare statutes in Connecticut and other states incorporate AWA standards within local laws.

Connecticut General Statutes, § 53-247 through § 53-253, broadened the AWA wording to include everyone. The laws apply to any “person,” not just commercial entities.

Here’s a simplification of the basic animal welfare principles

“Respectful treatment”

The wording of animal welfare laws is often long and complicated, but they all contain simple principles that support Bergh’s basic idea: animals deserve “respectful treatment.” If you’re a pet owner, that means:

Responsible “Use”

As a pet owner, you should “use” your pet for companionship, fun, and enjoyment. Rely on good judgment as you consider what to do for and to your pet. Learn to be a responsible owner throughout your pet’s lifetime.

Some owners violate this principle when they train their dogs for fighting, vicious attacks, or other cruel activities. Pet owners are also acting irresponsibly when they have good intentions but they’re unable or unwilling to provide proper care.

Healthy habits

When you acquire a pet, it’s important to understand that it’s your responsibility to help keep them healthy. That means exercise, regular preventive veterinary care, and timely treatment for illnesses or medical conditions.

Your pets’ emotional, social, and psychological health are equally important. Dignity, respect, and caring interactions are essential to keeping your pet happy.

Safe environment

Your pet doesn’t understand the dangers outside your door or your yard. It’s your job to protect him. Keeping your pet safe may mean locking your gate to keep your yard secure, keeping your dog on a leash, or protecting your pet from cars and vicious animals.

Human foods can harm your pets as well. You must put away alcohol, chocolate, and other toxic substances so your pet won’t get sick from eating them.

Proper Nourishment

Keeping your pet well fed isn’t difficult, but you must do it even when you’re tired or just don’t feel like it. Pets are just like children; you have to provide them with the nourishment and water they need to thrive.

Proper housing

Pets are pretty flexible when it comes to housing requirements. It’s up to you to figure out living arrangements that will keep them comfortable, happy, and warm. Proper housing includes appropriate arrangements for your pets’ “bathroom” needs. Your cat requires a litter box. Your dog needs regular “walks” to take care of his bathroom needs.

Hebron Veterinary Hospital

Call us at (860) 228-4324 for more information about Connecticut’s Animal Welfare laws or for tips on keeping your pet happy and healthy. Call us at (860) 228-4324.