March 2022. How a trauma-informed approach can improve animal welfare and relieve workplace stress. Published in West Coast Veterinarian.
New research by the Vancouver Humane Society and a professor from Dalhousie University indicates that devoting a little more time to each veterinary case can actually save time and reduce stress in the long term.
People from all backgrounds enjoy the companionship and mental health benefits of animals, but people who are placed-at-risk—those experiencing poverty or systemic discrimination, who are often at a higher risk of dealing with past traumas—can face barriers in caring for their pets. This report discusses opportunities in the animal services sector to address these barriers, ensure equitable services for all people and animals, and prevent worker burnout and compassion fatigue.
What does One Welfare mean? What does it mean to provide trauma-informed care? Why are veterinary outreach services important? This report highlights best practices to providing free or low-cost veterinary services. These services help to maintain the human-animal bond. More importantly, they address the veterinary needs of pets in the care of people who are experiencing poverty due to systemic injustice.
This report follows previous reports written in 1997, 2003 and 2008. The Greater Vancouver Zoo seems to have made changes since the 1997 report was published with many of thosechanges almost certainly having a positive welfare impact on the animals. However, some longstanding issues remain problematic and should be addressed.
Our recommendations to the Greater Vancouver Zoo are:
- Disperse those animals that are not appropriate for living in the lower mainland British Columbia climate to more appropriate accommodation elsewhere;
- Disperse those animals that the zoo does not have the resources to accommodate in a way that satisfies their physical, psychological and social needs to more appropriate accommodation elsewhere;
- Expedite the removal of the remaining older, sub-optimal cages and enclosures;
- Expand the smaller enclosures (e,g, red fox, Spur-thighed tortoise) that are spatially overrestrictive or deficient in other ways, or move the affected animals to larger facilities elsewhere on the zoo property;
- Adopt a behaviour-based husbandry regime for all animals at the Greater Vancouver Zoo;
- Develop and deliver a comprehensive zoo-wide environmental/behavioural enrichment program as a critical component of daily animal husbandry, care and management;
- Incorporate animal welfare as a foundational tenet of the Greater Vancouver Zoo.