Monday, December 7, 2009
Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines for dogs
It is an all too common problem. The RSPCA receives thousands of calls from concerned members of the community each and every year regarding dogs that are permanently tethered or kept in pens in backyards across the country.
Current codes of practice for the keeping of cats and dogs are voluntary and are unable to be enforced by RSPCA Inspectors. New guidelines for animal welfare would aim to produce standards that reflect scientific knowledge and community expectations that are able to be maintained and enforced.
First and foremost, owners are responsible for the health and welfare of their dogs and must provide both the basic necessities and a good quality of life for their pet. New standards of welfare would address problems associated with owners not providing their pet with adequate care. This includes providing sufficient food, water, shelter and veterinary treatment.
While different sized animals will have different exercise needs, under the new guidelines dogs would be required to be given adequate daily exercise off tether our outside of enclosures. Exercise includes both physical effort and mental stimulation. This could include taking the dog for a walk when appropriate, letting the dog run freely in the backyard, playing a game with the dog or letting them explore and have social contact in a designated off leash park.
An owner’s ability to keep a dog should be thought about well before acquiring one. Choosing a breed/type suitable to lifestyle and circumstances is essential to be able to maintain these minimum standards of care. Such things as size, activity level, temperament and type all factor into an owner’s ability to meet its dog’s needs. Other factors include the costs of caring and the time it takes to provide the dog with exercise, grooming and social contact.
As all responsible pet owners would agree, these proposed minimum standards are able to be easily maintained. New standards and guidelines will formalise a national code and ensure animals receive adequate levels of care.