The Future of Animal Welfare

The Future of Animal Welfare

Dr Roger Haston (view profile)

Animal sheltering has reached a crux point in its history and is undergoing a deep and fundamental change. In this talk we will review a brief history of animal welfare, examine a number of trends that are occurring and then utilize these data to create a vision for the future of animal welfare.

Animal welfare started in the United States in New York when Henry Berg was motivated by the incredible abuse and cruelty occurring for the carriage horses. It later expanded into companion animals and vulnerable populations. The primary purpose of these early efforts was the reduction of cruelty suffering and abuse. We will then examine some key events that have shaped and changed both how we do animal shelter, how the public thinks about animals and what lies at the root of much of the confusion and conflict that we see today.

The key trends that will be examined are:

  • the decline in intakes and the growing inventory problem for adoptable animals, the growth of animal transport.
  • the explosion of animal transfers
  • the changing nature of organizations and the growth of small rescues
  • how people adopt and the growth of retail adoptions
  • the development of animal welfare deserts
  • economics of sheltering

The future of animal welfare is bright and the role of animals in our society will continue to grow. However, many of the key messages that have allowed us to reach a level of success are starting to work against where we need to go. We have left behind significant portions of our society and our current infrastructure is not well set up to provide services where they are most needed. The future will be about getting back to our roots around cruelty, abuse and suffering. It will be about creating a greater focus on the building and supporting the bond between people and pets.