Whilst Thanksgiving is not a major Australian holiday, it still gives everyone around the world the chance to reflect the things they are thankful for. In the spirit of celebrating Thanksgiving with my new American friends, I found myself thinking, if animals could talk, what would they be thankful for?
One of the biggest concepts now taught in veterinary schools around the world is the importance of the 'Five Freedoms' - established guidelines that describe what is needed for the physical and mental health of all animals:
-Freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
- Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom to express normal behaviour: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind.
- Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
(CF RSPCA Australia http://kb.rspca.org.au/Five-freedoms-for-animals_318.html)
Whilst some of them may seem like common sense, you would be surprised how many out there forget these important truths when it comes to caring for their pets. And it's not only domestic pets that this applies to - with the move for sustainable and welfare friendly animal farming, these truths apply to all creatures on earth.
So if I was an animal, I think I would be most thankful for being taken into a loving and caring family; I would be thankful that nutritious and tasty food and fresh water was always readily available; I would be thankful for a soft bed to sleep in, with protection from the elements; thankful for the vets and assistances who dedicate their lives to helping us feel better; and I would be thankful for all of the wonderful people out there who work so hard to ensure I was looked after, not mistreated and allowed to express my normal daily behaviour.
When you think about it, it doesn't sound like much to ask for does it? But it's sobering to realise that so many animals around the world can't be thankful for these 5 basic truths. Luckily, there are people out there that dedicate all of their time and energy into fighting the mistreatment and cruelty to animals; I applaud them all, just as I applaud all the loving and caring owners I have come to know throughout my career.
And I for one am thankful that as a vet, I have been given the chance to play a small role in looking after all creatures great and small.
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