Second Chance: The Five Freedoms

Second Chance: The Five Freedoms

Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops have been servicing San Miguel, Ouray, and Montrose Counties for 25 years. Call the Second Chance Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about Spay/Neuter, volunteer, feral cat, or other services. View our shelter pets and services online:


In 1965 Britain’s Farm Animal Welfare Council developed the Five Freedoms which have since become internationally accepted standards of care that affirm every living being’s right to humane treatment. I am almost two-years -old and these basic freedoms have been denied to me most of my life. I am writing to change that.

The Five Freedoms were originally established in response to the inhumane treatment that farm animals were subjected to, but remain applicable to any environment that houses animals, including shelters, breeders, and individual homes.

The Freedoms include: Freedom from Hunger and Thirst, by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor; Freedom from Discomfort, by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area; Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease, by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment; Freedom to Express Normal Behavior, by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind; and Freedom from Fear and Distress, by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

Pretty straightforward stuff right? Well not if you spent the first year of your life in a puppy mill and then an additional seven months abandoned to fend for yourself. My life has been void of the Five Freedoms. That was my story. But now I am writing a new one, right here in this Pet Column.

My new story starts with arriving at Second Chance Humane Society. This place was created with the Five Freedoms as the framework. But everyone goes beyond that. As a result my body, mind, and heart are healing. I become braver every day. I am learning the freedom found in playing with other dogs. I am feeling the freedom of letting myself trust people. I am experiencing the freedom of feeling love rather than fear.

My story is not unique. There are many who have not yet been given the Five Freedoms. Regardless, I believe it is time to revise these standards:1965 was a long time ago. Maybe we can start shifting the focus beyond the freedom from negative states and experiences and toward the freedom of more positive states and experiences. Perhaps the Five Freedoms should be the freedom to feel love, joy, comforted, safe, and peaceful. Can’t hurt to try it on.

Now for the best part of my story. You will read this. You will know that you have the level of understanding, patience, and unconditional love that I need to become a healthy and happy boy in my own home with my own family. You will come meet me.

I will be the extremely handsome red-an-white mini Australian Shepherd named Asher looking disinterested but, on the inside, holding onto a great deal of hope. You will know that this will take a commitment of time and energy but that it will be worth it. So worth it.

See you soon?

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