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How we protect pet welfare on set

11 October 2021

Whether you’re a Producer, Marketing Manager or Photographer, you want to be focusing on getting the best content for your project rather than looking after your animal star. Luckily, that’s where the Urban Paws team comes in!

As well as being the UK’s biggest pet talent agency, we’re also a group of animal lovers, which is why we always put pet welfare at the top of our priority list while working on set. This means you can focus on your project while we take care of getting the best out of our animal star.

So, how do we protect pet welfare on set and why is this important?

What laws protect pets on set?

As well as ensuring that you’re working with animals ethically, on set pet welfare is protected under law too. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 outlines the five welfare needs that need to be protected by owners or handlers while an animal is working on set:

Pet health: this is the need to protect animals from any pain, injury, suffering and disease, including treating them quickly should they become ill. By having qualified veterinarians or nurses onset, we make sure that each animal star’s health is protected.

Natural behaviour: encouraging and allowing animals to behave naturally is key to maintaining their health. Whether they love to play, run, jump or fly, our experienced handlers will ensure that our animal stars are given any downtime they need between shoots to be themselves without the pressure to perform.

Right to companionship: some animals are more sociable than others. Our agents know our pet stars inside out and will match them to jobs that suit their level of sociability i.e. less sociable pets will never be chosen for big, busy events. We do this to help minimise stress and get the best out of our pet stars.

Suitable diet: understanding each pet star’s diet is key to keeping them happy and healthy. Our handlers will keep an eye on what and how much an animal star is eating and ensure they have access to clean, fresh water at all times.

Comfortable environment: each animal star has a different level of exposure to different environments. Our team will make sure there’s a quiet, comfortable space on each set for our pet stars to take some time out when needed – all VIPs need their own changing room after all – and remove an animal from any environment where they feel uncomfortable or stressed.

Whether we’re helping clients to organise a project or working with our own animal stars, we have strong welfare controls in place to make sure all of these needs are fulfilled.

How do we make sure our pets are protected on set?

After working in the pet talent industry for many years, we’ve built strong relationships with qualified vets and a team of expert animal handlers who will keep animals safe on set. Although having a vet or animal welfare professional on set is not legally compulsory, we strongly encourage their presence and put our clients in touch with professionals when required.

Our team also run checks and risk assessments to make sure an environment is safe and appropriate for our pet stars to work in. When working outdoors, for example, it’s important to have additional security measures, like cordoning off traffic or working on a lead where possible and making sure there are no potential hazards to the animal.

We always ask if there will be a closed set, or if there is a chance that members of the public or other animals will be around to ensure our pet star is comfortable and won’t be distracted by their environment whilst working.

As animal welfare is our first priority, we empower our owners or handlers to remove an animal if they’re unhappy with the arrangement on arrival or during a shoot. Although we also advocate that they make the client aware and try to rectify any problems where possible. This ensures that no animal is subject to poor working conditions or unsafe practices.

In addition, we have strict time limits that we allow our animals to be booked for, including any food, water, toilet or time out breaks in a quiet space away from set if required. We also try to source animals as close to the job venue as possible so an animal won’t be travelling for more than a couple of hours at a time, unless the owner is happy to do so. We may also request the booking of a hotel stay in some circumstances.

Why we use trained pet handlers.

As well as looking after a pet’s welfare, an experienced handler can work closely with a Photographer, Director or Videographer to get the content they need for their project. Each of our handlers knows their pet inside out and can get them to perform at their best exactly when you need it, whether that’s making them sit, stay or jump on cue. Certain animals and handlers can also learn a new trick if requested, even at short notice.

They also know which environments each pet feels comfortable in and can recognise when they feel stressed or need to be removed from the set for a rest. In short, having a trained handler on set with you means you can focus on getting the content you need while they look after our animal star.

Why is pet welfare so important?

Pet welfare isn’t just important for the animal you’re working with, but for your project too. As well as ensuring that your shoot is conducted ethically, proving that you have pet welfare controls in place will ensure that your advert or project is compliant with industry guidelines.

Our partnership with advertising regulators Clearcast means that our knowledge of welfare controls and guidelines is always kept up-to-date, so you can trust us to advise you on how to keep your project ethically compliant.

Trust us to keep your pet safe.

Whether you decide to book one of our pet stars or not, we’re on hand to give you expert pet welfare advice. From organising animal handlers and vets to conducting risk assessments and onsite checks, our experienced team can help you to keep your pet stars safe and ensure you get their best performance on set.

Our agents can also match your project with the best available pet star to ensure you get the exact character and content you need.

To find out more about how our agents can support your project, get in touch via info@urbanpawsuk.com

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