Why we care
Animal welfare is the foundation of our ethos, and a fundamental part of our reason for being.
At Agria we are passionate about ensuring our animals live their best possible lives, and sharing that passion with everyone we connect with, from our partners to our customers and the animals we all care for – our whole community.
We seek to inspire everyone we encounter to elevate animal welfare to the start of the conversation, the top of the to-do list and the framework of the plan. This year we are devoting time to exploring the 5 needs of our animals’ welfare as detailed in the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
We aim to share ways of protecting animals' needs, whilst also highlighting what happens when we don’t give them the priority they deserve, through case studies, research and insights provided by specialists in the field. And we are delighted to welcome Lord Trees' support.
Lord Trees' Statement of Support
Animal welfare has always been incredibly important to me. From my roots in the veterinary profession to my role as a crossbench peer, sharing my expertise with the House of Lords, upholding world-leading standards of animal welfare legislation is something I am honoured to be part of. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 is one of the most significant pieces of legislation I have been involved with, as it represented a huge step-change from the existing 1911 Protection of Animals Act, bringing together and updating all main pre-existing legislation. What we have now is clear guidance on how sentient beings should be cared for. Providing a legal framework to protect animals, the Act breaks down proper care into the ‘five welfare needs’ of Behaviour, Diet, Health, Environment, and Companionship.
Through these needs, the mental and physical wellbeing of the animal is protected. From eating a suitable diet, to being allowed to express themselves and behave in a way that is natural to them as a species, to living in an environment that provides companionship, as well as shelter – the welfare needs are all-encompassing to allow animals to live a life that is good – something they all deserve, and we must enable.
I am delighted that Agria are to highlight the Animal Welfare Act in their campaign throughout 2023 and beyond, and I fully support them as they share the important message of our duty to care for animals.
What are the Animal Welfare Pillars?
The need for the opportunity to behave naturally for their species and do the things freedom allows them to do, such as run, dig, jump, play and fly. As pet owners we often think of behaviour in terms of good and bad and the training required to make the difference. But behaviour is so much more than this, it is the way an animal of any kind expresses itself, interacts with others and inhabits its environment. We need to guide an animal to behave in a way so it can live in harmony with others, be they animal or human, but we also need to celebrate and enable them to express all the delightful ways our animals are meant to be.
The need to be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease, as well as the need for care and treatment if they do become ill or are injured. Seeing a loved one suffering, either from injury or illness, is truly distressing, and it’s our job to protect and look out for them where we can, and nurse them or seek medical help where we can’t. Some of the most fun and entertaining aspects of an animal’s character, its curiosity, single-mindedness and impulsiveness can also be the things we most need to watch for. We’re also fortunate to have the availability of lots of preventative care such as vaccines and parasitic treatments to reduce the risks of disease, as well as wonderful pet insurance when veterinary treatment is required.
The need for suitable diet as well as access to fresh, clean drinking water. What we feed our pets will be determined by their species, breed, life-stage and activity levels. We need to be careful that the amount and type of food given is suitable to ensure the animal not only has all the fuel and nutrition it needs to thrive, and is enough to avoid malnourishment, but is not too much to prevent obesity. We often humanise our pets in terms of what we think they are thinking or feeling, but it’s important not to forget that some species have very specific foods they must or cannot have because of their physiology, which can be at complete odds with our own. When taking on the care of an animal, it’s really important we make ourselves aware of these differences to avoid accidentally making an animal sick.
The need to inhabit a safe and suitable environment. Different animals require different things from their environment, but all will need to have somewhere they feel safe and can relax, they can interact with others if they choose, or hide if not, and they can exercise, explore and have fun. Animals fall into one of two categories: predator and prey and which they are will inform how they will need to be homed to keep them happy and comfortable and to meet this basic need. Without taking care over this, animals can become distressed or depressed or get themselves into a whole lot of trouble which we could easily have saved them from.
The need for company or solitude. Some species, like rabbits, are sociable and will need to be able to mingle with companions of the same species, and some, like many cats, are solitary – only really meeting up in the wild to mate. It’s important to consider before getting an animal whether you will be able to provide the company and companionship it needs. Dogs are sociable animals but are happy to just hang out with us, as long as we are able to give them the time and care they need to stay happy. The anxiety caused by loneliness in dogs can often lead to destructive or dangerous behaviour and responsible ownership includes preventing this.
Vicki Wentworth, Managing Director of Agria Pet Insurance
“2022 saw us achieve our amazing goal of becoming carbon positive in order to protect the planet we and all our animals call home. From that inspirational success we now turn our sights to protecting those animals and their welfare in every way. We get a huge amount from having pets and sharing our world with wildlife, they enrich our lives in so many ways. At Agria we want to return that generosity by making their lives as rich as possible too. We already donate funds for research into animal welfare, and support hundreds of animal rescues giving them the gift of new homes, but we care so deeply about animals we want the conversation of 2023 to be how we can help them lead their best possible lives. We will be exploring these needs, interviewing specialists, sharing research, and reviewing case studies in a fascinating year of enlightenment. The 5 needs of the Animal Welfare Act are Behaviour, Diet, Health, Environment and Companionship and they are at the heart of everything we do. ”
“We're so proud to sponsor the Animal Welfare Foundation Discussion Forum 2023. There are so many fascinating and incredibly important topics on today's agenda, we're thrilled to be here. And of course, what better opportunity to see some many of our esteemed colleagues - and friends - in the sector! Here is Professor the Lord Trees, who has been instrumental in their support of our ongoing work to highlight the importance of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.”
Animal Welfare Foundation Discussion Forum 2023