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The 5 Freedoms

Every animal lover has an idea of the things we think the animals in our care deserve, but did you know there’s a formal list named The Five Freedoms? The Tulsa SPCA along with many other animal welfare groups use The Five Freedoms as our standard of care. We strongly encourage anyone caring for animals to adopt these standards as well. While we want much more than these five freedoms, we view these as the minimum our animals deserve.

  • Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor
  • Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
  • Freedom to express normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind
  • Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

The Five Freedoms outline five aspects of animal welfare under human control. They were developed in response to a 1965 UK Government report on livestock husbandry, and were formalized in a 1979 press statement by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council. The Five Freedoms have been adopted by professional groups including veterinarians and organizations including the World Organization for Animal Health and the Tulsa SPCA.

Cruelty to animals is a crime.

Oklahoma State Law requires food, water, shelter and veterinary care to prevent suffering. Failure to provide these basic necessities is a felony violation.

Neglect: Severe animal neglect can cause incredible pain and suffering to an animal. Examples of neglect are starvation, dehydration, parasite infestations, allowing a collar to grow into an animal’s skin, inadequate shelter in extreme weather conditions, and failure to seek veterinary care when an animal needs medical attention.

Cruelty: Active cruelty implies malicious intent, where a person has deliberately and intentionally caused harm to an animal.

In Oklahoma, it is against the law to mistreat, abuse, or neglect an animal. That includes a number of kinds of cruelty-to-animals offenses, including:

    • Willful torture, or the killing or other destruction of an animal;
    • Beating, maiming, or otherwise injuring an animal;
    • Depriving any animal of food, water, shelter, or veterinary care necessary to prevent suffering;
    • Causing, or participating in any way, or permitting an animal to be beaten, injured, tortured, destroyed, or killed;
    • Starting or participating in any act of cruelty to any animal.

Oklahoma Statute title 21 § 1685

Penalties: Penalties vary according to the statute violated. In general, cruelty to animals in Oklahoma is a felony crime punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Oklahoma Statute title 21 § 168

Misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Oklahoma Statute title 21 § 1692.8

You can help

Everyone who cares for an animal should be providing The Five Freedoms for their animal. If you see something, say something!

Never attempt to rescue an animal from a potentially abusive or neglectful environment yourself. Not only can it potentially be unsafe, but also it is illegal to enter people’s property and take the animal from them without permission. Take these steps instead:


To report a case of animal cruelty, including any violation of The Five Freedoms, please fill out the online form on our website tulsaspca.org/cruelty-investigator. Or call your local police department’s or sheriff’s non-emergency number.


Please contact Tulsa Police Department’s Animal Control unit at the non-emergency number (918) 596-9222 to report a dog locked in a hot car.


In Tulsa, please call 911 to report an unsecured dog traveling in the bed of an open pickup truck as an unsecured load moving violation. Outside of Tulsa, this may not be a moving violation. Please call your local police department’s non-emergency number. (Title 37 Tulsa Revised Traffic Code, Ch. 7. Equipment Requirements § 737. Unsecured Vehicle Loads)

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