OneKind believes that each nonhuman animal matters as an individual, just as each human animal does. An animal’s worth is not based on their usefulness to humans. We avoid using labels such as ‘pest’, ‘broiler’, ‘game-bird’ or ‘show dog’, that describe the way humans categorise that animal, rather than who they are.
Animals are part of communities and ecosystems, just like we are, and should be allowed to play their parts accordingly to their needs and abilities. Positive relationships with humans can be part of that.
Animals can think and feel and should be treated accordingly. We do not only want to prevent suffering and cruelty; we want to create a world where other animals can thrive.
Animals that are farmed
We encourage the adoption of a plant-based diet. For those who are not ready to make that choice, there is a responsibility to ensure they only buy higher welfare products, and not those produced in intensive ‘factory’ farms.
As long as animals are still raised for food, we must see an end to those intensive practices, which cause immense suffering. The first step is to end the worst practices, like cages and live exports.
Our current welfare standards in the UK only aim to end the worst kinds of suffering and fail even to do that. Standards needs to be raised to ensure that farmed animals are treated with respect and that their complex needs are being met.
Animals that live in the wild
Animals that live in the wild do not necessarily need our active involvement in making sure that they can flourish, unlike other animals. In the cases where animals can live unimpeded by humans, we should let that happen.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many of those animals in Scotland. Most animals that live in the wild are either hunted for sport, hampered by human structures or activities, or persecuted due to inconvenience or perceived threat.
Some of the treatment of animals that are persecuted is extremely cruel and would be illegal if applied to companion animals. An example is trapping and snaring. We are working hard to put an end to these methods.
The regulation of how wild animals are treated is inconsistent and fails to protect animals. Too often it is based on tradition and sport rather than ethics and evidence. We are working to change that.
Animals used in research
OneKind want to see an end to the use of animals in research as it is unethical and unnecessary.
In addition to the physical or mental pain or distress that can be caused by the experiments themselves, transportation, handling, confinement, environmental deprivation, isolation, and over-crowding can also cause suffering.
Testing on animals is also unnecessary. There are now alternatives that are better and more applicable to humans. The reasons they are not used more widely are often not scientific but based on conservatism within scientific establishments, and bureaucracy.
This area is retained to the UK government, so the Scottish Government has limited power. However, they should be actively promoting the development and use of alternatives.
Animals that are companions to humans
OneKind supports human-animal relationships that are beneficial to both. Animal companions bring us joy and mental health support – this is wonderful as long as the animals feel the same way. Keeping animals in our homes brings a responsibility to make sure that their physical and psychological needs are fully met.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are examples of animals suffering from poor mental health due to their needs not being met, such as rabbits confined in small hutches or dogs left alone all day. Likewise, physical health problems such as obesity are prevalent.
Animals being sold for profit has created the low welfare puppy farming and exotic species trades. Our desire for animals that look a certain way has led to breeding for harmful extreme conformation, and mutilations such as tail docking and ear cropping.
There have been recent improvements to legislation in Scotland that aim to tackle some of these issues. We continue to work to further this progress.