The council was launched to co-ordinate the much needed regulation of those engaged in the behaviour modification and training of animals.
The Council has a number of purposes.
At the moment, anyone can call themselves a trainer or behaviour expert regardless of their training or experience. This can lead to poor practice risking animal welfare and the safety of those who implement the advice. The Council aims to set standards for the knowledge and skills required to be a recognised, accredited or certified professional. The Council is the only animal welfare charity that is primarily concerned with protecting the psychological welfare of animals undergoing training and behaviour activities.
The Animal Behaviour Training Council serves the following two charitable aims:
- To promote humane practice in the training and behaviour therapy of animals and;
- To lobby for improvements in animal welfare related to behaviour and training of said animals
Registered Charity Number 1164009 (England and Wales), SC048256 (Scotland)
In recent years more and more people have turned an interest in their pets into a money-making business. This has fuelled the demands for regulation. Calls for the formation of such a Council started as far back as 2004 and talks between professional bodies resulted in the formation of the Council in 2010.
Without specific legislation, membership of the Council is voluntary. However, we believe that in many ways industry self-regulation is a better option than enforced control. Membership is only open to approved professional organisations and their assessed members will appear on the Council’s register.
There is a fee to professional organisations which goes towards helping achieve the charitable aims and the running costs of the Council. More information about membership categories and costs can be found here.
Any income will be used to cover overheads such as web design and website hosting, printing and insurance with future costs anticipated for the Council’s own accreditation, and for secretariat support. There will be no profits for distribution and much of the work that has gone into creating the Council has been given voluntarily.
Individuals will have the opportunity to show the public that they have undergone specific training and reached the professional standards required by the Council. It means that animal owners can have confidence in choosing practitioners to help them with their training or behaviour challenge.
Currently, animal owners have no indication whether their chosen trainer or behaviourist has received any kind of training or is implementing approved methods. We believe that the formation of the Council is a great step forward for animal welfare and greater clarity for the public.
There is a fee for practitioners to join the registers.
There are some practising trainers and behaviourists who use methods and techniques which can cause pain and fear and may compromise welfare. These methods are not only unacceptable but unnecessary. Long term changes in behaviour can be achieved through use of reward based methods which the Council strongly advocates.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 ( http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/45/contents ) introduced a duty of care on those responsible for animals to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the needs of an animal are met. An animal’s needs include protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease. Training or behaviour modification that breaches this important duty can give rise to an offence irrespective of whether or not the animal is considered to have suffered. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 also makes provision for those who subject animals to treatment which results in the animal being caused unnecessary suffering.
The dog welfare campaign was launched to advise owners of the possible dangers of using training techniques that can cause pain and fear. This was supported by a large number of animal welfare, behaviour, training and veterinary organisations some of which are also represented on the Council.
The campaign and the Council share a common goal which is to ensure that those people who train or treat behaviour problems are appropriately qualified to do so in a way which protects welfare. For more information about the Dog Welfare Campaign, check out their website – https://www.dogwelfarecampaign.org/
We are only able to take applications for membership from professional organisations that represent practitioners with suitable qualifications and/or experience. Please do speak to your organisation if you think they should look at membership of ABTC.
Until now any standards have been those decided upon by each of the many individual organisations and they range from little more than paying a membership fee to a requirement for a high level of education and a long period of supervised experience.
The RCVS is reviewing the manner in which the veterinary professions work with other bodies (often called para-professionals) in the treatment and care of animals with the primary aim of protecting the welfare of those animals. The Royal Charter which established the RCVS enables the College to also regulate para-professionals; until recently this is the manner in which Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs) were regulated. Other para-professional groups include equine dentists, cattle foot trimmers and ovum transplant technicians; the RCVS wishes to include behaviourists (in the broadest sense) in their regulatory sphere and ABTC is the only organisation that would comply with RCVS standards.
The aim of regulation to protect animal welfare is to ensure that any person who claims to be competent at a particular activity has been properly trained and proven their competence by a thorough assessment undertaken by another independent proven competent person. That is why any person claiming to be a veterinary surgeon has to be registered with and regulated by RCVS. ABTC is able to prove the competence of Practitioner Organisations’ member because of the processes of training and assessment that we insist are in place.
Once ABTC is Accredited only those practitioners on the ABTC Register will be able to claim that they have been shown to be competent by a regulated body. We expect that the RCVS will advise veterinary surgeons that animals referred for a behaviour issue, either for training or for a behaviour issue, should only be referred to a member of an Accredited organisation. It is also possible that pet health insurance companies will only pay for treatment by a member of an Accredited organisation.
In order to be regarded as a coherent profession and recognised by Government as such a number of requirements must be satisfied, the following points are a very brief overview of those requirements:
- Governance must be independently accountable and transparent
- Defined technical competence based on a standard body of knowledge (education requirements).
- Defined technical competence based on a standard of performance criteria (assessment of skills)
- Complaints and disciplinary procedure must be in place.
- Standards of ethical personal and business practice including customer service, financial probity and advertising must be adhered to.