Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 there is a legal duty for all those caring for pets to meet five animal welfare needs. According to the PDSA PAW Report, only 35 percent of the UK on average are aware of the five needs.
A mind-blowing 65 percent of pet owners are unfamiliar with the animal welfare acts and 26 percent said they had never even heard of them. As retailers, the five animals needs are important for explaining to the customers, as well as using within store. The study found that 90 percent of veterinary professionals believed that advice about these welfare needs should be given by pet shops at the point of sale.
The need for a suitable environment
This means that all pets should have the right to suitable housing. Whether this means the right sized aquarium for a goldfish or the perfect hutch for a rabbit. As a pet retailer you should be fully aware of what size home a pet needs when you’re making a sale. This means one that isn’t just suitable and adequate but one that is comfortable and has enough room for the pet throughout its life. If unsold, pets can remain in store for a long period of time so it’s important to also provide them plenty of room to get the space and exercise they need.
The need for a suitable diet
Providing the right food is not only beneficial to the animal but also for the customer (who is more than likely going to be cleaning it up). If you pets don’t receive the right nutrition they become overweight, underweight or in fact poisoned in some cases. For example, if guinea pigs are not fed enough vegetables they can be prone to scurvy, whereas if rabbits are given too much fruit or high-fat vegetables they can be susceptible to weight gain or sickness potentially leading to death.
The need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
No one should be unhappy and the same goes for pets. Animals in all aspects of their lives should be able to show their natural behaviour without becoming stressed or unhappy. Pets shouldn’t be scared or showing unnatural body language.
The need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
For some animals, companionship is a must. For example rats thrive in pairs or small groups, whereas syrian hamsters must be kept separate. It’s important to know which pets prefer to have companions and who those should be. For many years keeping guinea pigs and rabbits together seemed to be common practice, but this is now been found to be dangerous for both parties and should never be accepted.
The need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
It goes without saying that no pet lover and pet shop owner would want an animal to suffer from pain, suffering, injury or disease. From a bearded dragon to a chinchilla, all pets should be provided with the care they need and should never be harmed. Making sure pets go to the correct homes, and similarly that they healthy in store is an expected welfare need.