Animals are often kept as domestic companions. But while owners may care about their pets, many suffer from inadequate care, neglect or even abandonment.
WSPA is working to promote responsible pet ownership around the world. This includes programmes in developing countries, where access to animal welfare information and veterinary care can be scarce or unavailable.
Responsible animal care is equally relevant to pet owners in wealthy countries, where pets can suffer if owners are unaware of their needs.
Caring for animals begins at home
In the UK we have good access to veterinary care. But the best way to keep pets healthy is by consistently meeting their welfare needs ourselves.
Animal welfare groups use the following checklist to judge whether an animal is as happy and healthy as possible, and you can too. All five freedoms need to be met – a well-fed animal could still suffer if it is too cold.
Your pet should be:
- Free from hunger and thirst.
- Free from discomfort.
- Free from pain, injury and disease.
- Free from fear and distress.
- Free to express normal behaviour
This final point means that we should be understand our pets’ behavioural needs and give them the opportunity to express them. For example, rather than trying to stop a cat scratching indoors, provide a scratching post.
For more information and advice, download WSPA’s leaflets on dog care (PDF 252KB) or cat care (PDF 297KB) or visit the RSPCA website, which offers advice on appropriate care for a whole range of domestic animals.
Caring for animals is everyone’s responsibility
Whether or not you own a companion animal, there are everyday actions you can take to ensure their welfare:
Report animal cruelty
Learn to recognise signs of abuse or neglect. In the UK, report any abuse immediately to your local branch of the RSPCA. If you witness cruelty abroad, report it locally in the first instance and, if you wish, to the country's embassy or your local politician when you return.
Help reduce animal overpopulation
There are millions of unwanted and stray dogs and cats in the world. Make sure your pet is neutered and microchipped if possible. Adopt your next animal companion from a local rescue shelter.
The following WSPA member societies can provide further information on animal adoption: RSPCA, Dogs Trust, Cats Protection.
Support international recognition of the importance of animal welfare
Add your name to the global petition for a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare. This legislation would give animals everywhere the same basic levels of protection.
Recognising that cruelty can stem from ignorance, WSPA works to improve the welfare of owned animals through education. Please help us continue to educate animal owners and carry out other vital welfare work.