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Position Statement on Educational Visits Using Animals

The BC SPCA believes that students should learn about animal welfare through both formal and informal educational activities.

The BC SPCA opposes keeping exotic or wild animals as pets and opposes the bringing of wild or exotic animals into a classroom or other unnatural setting for educational presentations, as we believe the observation of these animals outside of their natural habitat provides little educational benefit to students.

Educational activities involving visits by domesticated companion animals and their guardians in the classroom are acceptable as long as the animal is provided with the Five Freedoms and the primary purpose of the visit is animal welfare education.

Approved by the Board of Directors – February 2009

Definitions

Five Freedoms: A concept first developed in 1965 by The Brambell Committee, formed by the UK government to examine the conditions on commercial farms. Now internationally recognized, the Five Freedoms are considered applicable to all animals.

The BC SPCA’s Five Freedoms (adapted from the original list) are:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst;
  2. Freedom from pain, injury and disease;
  3. Freedom from distress;
  4. Freedom from discomfort;
  5. Freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being.

The BC SPCA’s Five Freedoms form the basis of the Society’s Charter and describe conditions that must be fulfilled in order to prevent the suffering of all animals in human care. The Society acknowledges that these freedoms are not enforceable and that absolute provision of these freedoms may not be possible, but strongly encourages all animal guardians to strive to provide them.

Companion animals: Domesticated animals who have been selectively bred to live and thrive in mutually beneficial relationships with humans and who are kept primarily for the purpose of companionship.

Domesticated animals: Species that have been selectively bred by humans over hundreds or thousands of generations in order to alter their genetics to create animals that are dependant, docile, predictable, and controllable, and that no longer occupy an ecological niche in the wild.

Exotic animals: Species that are non-domesticated, non-indigenous wild animals, whether captured from the wild or captive-bred.

Wild animals: Species that have not been domesticated. Wild animals have evolved in complex ecosystems resulting in mutual interdependencies with other animals and the surrounding environment. Wild animals may be exotic or indigenous, and wild-born or captive-bred.