The 5 Freedoms

Animal Rescue is a complex area and it is important that everyone involved in rescue knows and understands that rescue is not just about taking an animal from the streets, putting the animal into a kennel and thinking that the animal has been saved from a life of hunger, pain and distress on the streets.  Every animal should have the 5 Freedoms which ensures that they will have good quality of life even if they are never fortunate enough to find a family of their own.

Dog in red bath

What are the 5 freedoms?

Freedom from thirst and hunger

It is crucial that animals always have fresh water available, as well as a suitable diet that keeps them healthy and energetic. These diets should be specific to the animal, taking into consideration the age, gender, breed and whether they have any specific health conditions.

Freedom from pain, injury or disease

Vaccinating animals to prevent disease and illness is a must, as is providing treatment and medication if needed. The constant monitoring of animals is also necessary to pick up on injury or illness quickly.

Freedom from discomfort

All animals should be kept in a safe and healthy environment that has protection from the elements and a comfortable resting area. Soft bedding, access to natural light, and appropriate temperature and suitable noise levels should also be monitored and supplied. Care must be taken to ensure food and water bowls are properly maintained.

Freedom to express normal behaviour

Normal behaviour, like moving as freely as possible in sufficient space, being able to socialise with another animal and being kept in proper facilities, is the fourth freedom. Animals must be able to stretch every part of their body, run, jump and play. If they’re happier without other animals around, they must still have the option to interact with them if they want to. Some animals want to avoid others, and this must be respected too.

Freedom from fear and stress

We must ensure that the condition and treatment of our animals prevents any mental suffering. The fifth freedom states that the mental health of an animal is just as important as its physical health. Preventing overcrowding and providing a safe space for all animals are ways to ensure they feel protected.

What does War Paws do to ensure that all of our animals enjoy the 5 freedoms?

War Paws takes the health and welfare (both mental and physical) of our animals very seriously and we constantly strive to ensure that our animals receive the best care at all times.

At the shelter

In Iraq 95% of our dogs inside the shelter are ‘free running’. The shelter is split down into 5 sections where the dogs live in groups, each group is a carefully selected mix of dogs that get on well together. We do have a small number of dogs that we need to kennel at night or during feeding time but no dog is ever left 24/7 in a kennel unless they are receiving medical care that requires them to remain contained. 

The kennels we do have are substantial in size with each kennel consisting of a sleeping area and a run that is approx. 3 to 5m in length and a minimum of 2m in width, every kennel has toys and artificial grass/bedding to ensure the animals that are receiving treatment remain happy and enriched. We also have a purpose built quarantine block where new arrivals spend their first month at the shelter whilst we vaccinate them and ensure they are free of disease.

Cost of dog food

Due to the ridiculously high cost of poor quality commercial dog food in Iraq we have formulated our own ‘dog soup’ which is made up of rice, pasta, eggs, chickpeas, lentils and chicken and we regularly add naan bread and sardines/fish as well. The soup is cooked fresh each day by our dedicated shelter staff and shortly before serving we mix in a couple of bags of commercial food and tinned dog food that is kindly donated in the UK and shipped every 2 weeks to Iraq. Our dogs love the ‘soup’ and are all happy and healthy on it.

From time to time we do have an animal that requires a more specific diet and we will in those cases source the diet in the UK to ensure we are giving what is needed. We don’t just feed the dogs inside the shelter twice a day, we feed all dogs within a radius of around 0.5 mile of the shelter as well.


Toys and fun

All of our dogs have access to toys and we recycle old pallets and tyres to make play stations that the dogs can climb on or lay on or under to chill out and relax. We even let the dogs play with the cardboard boxes that we send all of our food and supply shipments packed in and they absolutely tearing them up! Our staff also spends a good deal of time playing with the dogs to ensure they are well socialised with humans as well as other dogs.

Veterinary care and protection

Every single dog inside and the dogs that live outside has access to medical care 7 days a week. Our vet team works incredibly hard to ensure that every dog is vaccinated, spayed/neutered, treated for fleas/ticks and worms, microchipped and receives medical care for injuries or illness. Our onsite clinic operates to the highest standards and strives to constantly improve and grow. We also bring vets in from the UK and other countries a couple of times a year to ensure that our in house vets are constantly learning new techniques.

The heat is intense in the summer months in Iraq so we ensure that every dog has access to fresh water 24/7 as well as placing multiple paddling pools in and around the shelter and we are constantly adding new shaded areas both inside and outside of the shelter, we also have huge swamp coolers in every section to blow cool moist air around. We use recycled water tanks that work well in both the summer and winter months to protect the dogs from the sun and the rain and cold temperatures. The dogs love the artificial turf we place in the shaded areas and the recycled water tanks (we ensure it never gets too hot to burn our dogs delicate feet with regular hosing down several times a day in the summer months).

The Ukrainian dogs at the shelter in Romania also enjoy quality care...

We do not believe that any dog should ever be in a kennel alone 24/7 if it is happy to be with other dogs so almost all of our dogs in Romania live in large kennels with occupancy of between 2 and 5 dogs depending on the size of kennel, each group of dogs has been carefully selected so that we maintain a stress free environment for all of them. We do have a couple of dogs that just prefer to not share a kennel and we ensure those dogs get plenty of love and cuddles every day as well as lovely walks. Every dog is taken out of the kennels every day for several hours to play in the play areas that have been constructed and to go out for long walks with the staff, the dogs all have soft straw bedding to help them stay comfy in their houses and they have access to fresh water 24/7. Every dog is fed with commercially available food twice daily and they all enjoy treats and toys each day as well and in the summer months we place paddling pools inside the kennels and in the play areas for them. As with Iraq every dog in the shelter in Romania is microchipped, vaccinated, has been spayed/neutered and is FAVN tested as well as being tested for Heartworm, Brucella and other diseases endemic to the region and every dog is treated with good quality flea/tick product every month.

It isn't all just about the dogs either...

Our donkeys in Iraq enjoy the same freedoms that the dogs have, they live in a large purpose built donkey sanctuary where they have a huge stable area that they can go in and out of at will, they have beautifully clean, soft appropriate bedding inside and the outside areas are all soft sand. We don’t stop there though! We also provide toys for our donkeys to play with as well and every day they get a selection of fresh vegetables and a couple of times a week they get fruit treats. The donkeys also get great vet care and are visited by a farrier on a regular basis to trim their feet.

We are constantly striving to do everything possible to ensure that the animals in our care have the best life we can give them, they are not just shelter dogs to us, we love them just like you love your own pets and for many of our dogs we are the only family they will ever know so we want them to know just how much we do love them. Your support is what makes it possible for us to provide the best care for our animals so please do donate if you can and please tell people about our work.