Contemporary understanding of One Welfare highlights the intrinsic link between animal and human welfare and ethics, regarding physical and psychological well-being as equally important. These principles apply to all animals we keep, regardless of why we keep them. One factor influencing psychological welfare is how animals are prepared for their life, including how they are taught (trained) to behave. Where such preparation is lacking or inappropriate methods are used, animals will be fearful and/or frustrated, resulting in impaired welfare, problematic behavior, and potential injury to humans and other animals. How animals are trained and by whom are the focus of this paper. Currently, animal trainers and behaviorists are unregulated. Thus anyone can claim to be a “professional” or “expert” with no required testing of knowledge or skill. This enables the continued use of outdated, less humane methods and increases confusion for those seeking competent help and for those looking for a career path. With increasing numbers of companion animals, there is commercial incentive to work in this sector and an urgent need for clarity and regulation if One Welfare is to be enhanced. This paper catalogues the UK experience of developing a regulatory framework for this sector. It argues the need for and benefits of regulation and maps the progress of the Animal Behaviour and Training Council since its inception in 2010 with the bringing together of various stakeholders including veterinary organizations, animal welfare charities, and associations representing practitioners. It describes the rationales leading to the development of agreed standards, academic provision to support those standards, and assessment procedures common to all. It considers future challenges within a turbulent political and economic environment, including securing government recognition for a single UK regulatory authority. Though this goal is yet to be realized, significant progress has been made and momentum is gathering.
Marcy Wilhelm-South super-administrator
|Publication Title||People and Animals: The International Journal of Research and Practice|