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resources > Five Freedoms


In 1965, animal welfare principles were developed in the United Kingdom. These principles, known as the Five Freedoms for Animal Welfare, were presented in a report prepared by the Brambell Commission (which later became the Farm Animal Welfare Council).

Though originally written to address welfare concerns in agricultural settings, the Five Freedoms are now accepted as guidelines for the welfare of all animals — "a model that is applicable across species and situations."

Five Freedoms

1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst

by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor

2. Freedom from Discomfort

by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area

3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease

by prevention of rapid diagnosis and treatment

4. Freedom to Express Injury or Disease

by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind

5. Freedom from Fear and Distress

by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering


Use in other documents and policies

The Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters was written using the Five Freedoms as a basis for its contents. As quoted in the Guidelines: "A survey of large animal faculty at veterinary schools indicated strong support for these principles in the United States (Heleski 2005), and it has been recommended that they are equally useful as a framework for zoo animal welfare (Wielebnowski 2003). The Five Freedoms also form the basis for minimum standards for dogs, cats, and animals in boarding facilities promulgated by the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture (New Zealand 1998, 2007) and recently, for standards from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association for cats (CVMA 2009). This approach has also been embraced by the laboratory animal community (Bayne 1998; CACC 1993; ILAR 1996; SCAW 2001). As performance standards, rather than engineering standards, the Five Freedoms define outcomes and imply criteria for assessment, but do not prescribe the methods by which to achieve these outcomes."


Animal Welfare Principles

Per the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), copyright 2013:

"Animal Welfare means how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives. An animal is in a good state of welfare (as indicated by scientific evidence) if it is healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able to express innate behavior, and if it is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress. Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and veterinary treatment, appropriate shelter, management, nutrition, humane handling and humane slaughter. Animal welfare refers to the state of the animal: the treatment that an animal receives is covered by other terms such as animal care, animal husbandry, and humane treatment.

Ensuring animal welfare is a human responsibility that includes consideration for all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling and, when necessary, humane euthanasia.

There are numerous perspectives an animal welfare that are influenced by a person's values and experiences. There are also various means of measuring animal welfare, including (but not limited to) health, productivity, behavior, and physiological responses."

What is Animal Welfare?


The AVMA also adopted Animal Welfare Principles. Link to these Principles is below. Two of the eight Principles include:

• Animals should be cared for in ways that minimize fear, pain, stress, and suffering.

• Animals shall be treated with respect and dignity throughout their lives and, when necessary, provided a humane death.

AVMA Animal Welfare Principles


Questions of conscience

In 2002, Matthew Scully wrote Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy, which explores the obligation humans have to protect animals. To quote Scully: “The care of animals brings with it often complicated problems of economics, ecology, and science. But above all it confronts us with questions of conscience. Many of us seem to have lost all sense of restraint toward animals, an understanding of natural boundaries, a respect for them as beings with needs and wants and a place and purpose of their own. Too often, too casually, we assume that our interests come first, and if it’s profitable or expedient that is all we need to know. We assume that all these other creatures with whom we share the earth are here for us, and only for us. We assume, in effect, that we are everything and they are nothing.”


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