'The welfare of dogs is of paramount importance to all involved in the development of partnerships involving mental health.' Craig MacLellan CEO
It is already accepted that among veterans with PTSD there is acknowledgement to the way animals create a sense of safety and security for their human companions; but equal attention needs to be paid to the safety and welfare of any dogs used as an intervention for mental health.
Safety is an important concern when using dogs in any health care capacity. Specifically, the safety of the animal, the human companion, and the general public.
Commonly, the main emphasis of dog welfare is placed on the role of training, to ensure that the dogs are fully prepared for a match with their human. Additionally, there are important factors of ongoing veterinary care. We provide our extended support partnerships with education and training via health care professionals and care providers on the role of assistance dogs in mental health.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 forms the very basic standard from which we work at VWD. It can be thought of as a simple approach to Quality Assurance in some respects. A starting point clearly laid out for people to understand.
At every level of our programmes these basic elements are applied to make sure that our dogs are raised, trained and cared for in a suitable manner. The end goal is to produce happy, confident dogs that enjoy life and their work.
Just as humans have healthcare needs, so do our dogs. We have professionals within the organisation who monitor and track all aspects of the dogs, working alongside outside professionals where necessary, reviewing and checking the health and welfare of these important animals, and maintaining an up-to-date health picture in general.
The professionals involved in welfare include our approved trainers, behaviourists, vets and qualified nurses. A network of referral specialists are also available when appropriate. We strive to maintain excellent standards of care and support for our Veterans and our animals.
Our constant internal review methods drive the standards that we work to and aim to achieve. We set high professional standards which we continue to improve from our procedures, policies and working practices.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006
The Animal Welfare Act applies to every individual who owns or cares for an animal within the United Kingdom.
Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act places a duty of care on people to ensure they take reasonable steps in all the circumstances to meet the welfare needs of their animals to the extent required by good practice.
What does this mean for those responsible for animals?
In short it means they must take positive steps to ensure they care for their animals properly and in particular must provide for the five welfare needs, which are:
- need for a suitable environment
- need for a suitable diet
- need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
- need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals
- need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.