How businesses can start improving their impact on the welfare of animals

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By Carolyn Wincer, 7th October 2021

In this article, Travelife for Accommodation suggests how businesses can get started with assessing and improving their impact on the welfare of animals.

The health and wellbeing of the animals our operations influence can easily be lost when we need to focus on so many other things, yet it is an area of increasing concern to customers and offers opportunities to improve your environmental and social impacts. In this article we share the reasons why your business should be concerned about animal welfare, and how to get started with assessing risks and implementing a good strategy.

In some industries the need to consider animal welfare is obvious, such as businesses that source a lot of animals products for food service or production. In others their influence may seem less obvious yet the topic is still of huge importance to many customers. Deciding how much effort you should place in this area starts with an assessment of your own operations when you should consider the following questions:

Do we provide products or services that involve animals?  This might include food produced and/or consumed at your business, other products made from animals, animals used for entertainment or working animals such as horses or donkeys.

To what extent is our business reliant on animals?

Do accepted cultural norms towards animals in our areas of operation conflict with what might be acceptable to our customers?  For example, how working animals like donkeys are treated, how animals are processed for food or how stray cats are dealt with.

Do we have direct control over the welfare of animals or are we reliant on contracted suppliers?

Are there lots of stray animals such as cats or dogs in our areas of operation?  Could our staff or customers be concerned about strays?

Could our operations negatively impact the natural behaviours of animals, such as noise, light, air or soil pollution that could disrupt natural behaviours such as breeding and feeding?

The answers to those questions should give you a good place to start with setting some goals and targets that will improve your influence on animal welfare.  Here are some ideas that could help you get started:

Take a detailed look at your supply chain to see if you can source animal products from suppliers who are certified by an animal welfare organisation, and to make sure the products you source do not involve any endangered species.  You can find out more about endangered species at the CITES website.

Food products produced from animals have a significantly higher impact on greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based products.  Take a look at any food you are offering or sourcing in your operations to see if there are opportunities to provide more vegetarian or vegan options.  If you still need to procure animal products, pay special attention to how seriously your suppliers treat animal welfare issues.

What are the biggest animal welfare issues in your area?  For example, is it stray cats or dogs or mistreatment of working animals such as donkeys or camels?  Once you have established the biggest animal welfare concern in your region, how can you help to address it?   For example, donating to a local animal shelter, funding a reputable stray animal neutering programme or supporting a conservation effort that will protect animals and their habitat.

Engage your staff by allowing any interested team members to participate in your strategy. They may come up with some great ideas for fundraising and volunteering that will have positive impacts on the welfare of animals in your community.

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