International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is committed to upholding and improving the welfare of all animals involved in our wildlife conservation and animal care projects throughout the world. As a responsible volunteer travel operator, IVHQ ensures effective policies and processes are in place to protect the welfare of animals that our volunteers interact with. We believe animal welfare is a human responsibility that requires an active consideration of all aspects of animal wellbeing and we take this responsibility seriously.
The purpose of this policy is to outline the requirements we have of all volunteer projects that involve providing care to animals or supporting wildlife conservation. It aims to define the expectations we have of the organisations we work with in each program location and summarizes the behaviours that we expect IVHQ volunteers to exhibit in order to promote animal welfare.
IVHQ is committed to providing proper housing, nutrition and responsible care to animals in a manner which promotes their health, safety, comfort and ability to express natural behaviour.
The animal welfare policy is an organisation-wide policy and statement of intent. It applies to all IVHQ staff members, the staff members and operations of our local teams, and the actions of all IVHQ volunteers. It holds particular relevance for our programs where volunteers interact with animals regularly as a result of selecting to undertake a wildlife conservation or animal care project.
The policy is written with the acknowledgement that every IVHQ volunteer and every member of our organisation has a responsibility to support and promote the welfare of animals. The policy also identifies that IVHQ does not hold sole responsibility for protecting the welfare of animals and asserts that their protection is also incumbent upon other stakeholders such as local communities, government agencies, and non-government organisations.
The level of interaction that IVHQ volunteers have with animals on our wildlife and animal care projects varies, but at all times should be guided by the following principles. These principles are based the internationally recognised Five Freedoms of animal welfare. Anyone interacting with animals on an IVHQ program is expected to respect and uphold:
- Freedom from thirst and hunger
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom from pain, injury and disease
- Freedom to express normal behaviour
- Freedom from fear and distress
IVHQ commits to ensuring all volunteer projects where volunteers regularly interact with animals uphold our expectations and requirements of animal welfare. These include:
- All wildlife conservation and animal care projects must have the relevant permits and registrations, and must abide by all applicable local legislation and regulations
- Any research undertaken must be aligned with a registered and reputable conservation organisation or institution
2. Prioritize the Needs and Welfare of Animals
- The goals and operations of the project must be designed in consultation with an individual or organisation with demonstrable expertise in animal conservation, care and welfare
- In all cases, the objectives of wildlife conservation and animal care projects must favour the dignity, health, care and welfare of the animals involved
- Wildlife conservation projects must promote the long term welfare of animals in the wild, and must not promote or support long term captivity
- Animals must be provided with water, food and health care which is appropriate to their specifies and individual condition
- Any enclosures that temporarily house animals must be of a size and condition appropriate to the species, and must provide adequate facilities to ensure health
- Animals must not experience suffering for economic or entertainment reasons
- Any research conducted via interaction with animals must not cause harm or unnecessary distress and must be driven by an objective of protecting the individual animal and its species long-term
- Transport conditions should minimise stress for animals
3. Demonstrate a Positive Impact
- All wildlife conservation and animal care projects must have clearly defined goals and outcomes
- These goals and outcomes must be clearly explained and demonstrated to volunteers
- Long-term project objectives and outcomes should be discussed with volunteers the project orientation
- All wildlife conservation and animal care projects must operate transparently and allow monitoring by external third-party organisations
4. Volunteer Training and Conduct
- IVHQ commits to ensuring volunteers entering wildlife conservation and animal care projects receive appropriate information about animal welfare through pre-departure program guides
- All volunteers must receive sufficient training on animal handling and care from the leader of the placement before interacting with any animal
- Volunteers must uphold the principles and expectations set out in this policy. Behaviour that demonstrates non-compliance with this policy constitutes a breach program rules and code of conduct, and may result in a volunteer being asked to leave the program without refund