Bristol A.R.C. ‘Welfare Policy’ - as it applies to our ‘rescue, rehabilitate and rehome’ activities

Our Mission

We are committed to preventing cruelty and promoting kindness to animals.Through our activities we aim to reduce animal suffering and increase animal wellbeing as much as possible.

Our welfare principles

Our animal welfare work is based on the RSPCA’s ‘5 Freedoms’:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour
  • Freedom from fear and distress

How we deliver this part of our mission

We deliver our mission applying our welfare principles through the work of our Clinic and Rehoming Centre to rescue and rehabilitate all companion animals that come into our care and to then rehome animals where this is in their best interests.


Our aim is never to turn away an animal in need of our help – this means we are committed to a non-selective intake policy. Subject to space, but irrespective of companion animal species, breed, condition, age, temperament or health we will open our doors to those animals in need of care, and we will do all we can to reunite them with their owners or rehome them into loving new homes.

When we rescue animals we receive them at our St Philips site from, amongst others, RSPCA inspectors, members of the public, owners, the police and City Council dog wardens.We prioritise our intake to give the greatest help to the most vulnerable animals in our Bristol City area including:

  • Animals signed over to the RSPCA inspectors due to welfare concerns
  • Unowned sick, injured or ‘at risk’ animals
  • Unwanted animals
  • Abused and neglected animals rescued by the RSPCA inspectors


We always go the extra mile to meet the particular welfare needs of each animal in our care.In addition to enrichment, diet, play and expert veterinary care all animals are respected and treated with empathy and compassion.Their treatment is based on the best evidence, ethics and expertise and every decision is made according to what is right for their welfare, however difficult that may be.

Providing for the welfare needs of our animals also means ensuring our staff, volunteers and supporters are adequately protected from physical harm.

One of the challenges of our open intake approach is that we have to deal with a wide range of animals arriving here, many with serious medical conditions and/or behavioural problems.This puts the onus on our dedicated team to ensure each animal is treated on a case-by-case basis and to do all we can to give them another chance.


  • On entry every animal is assessed by our dedicated in-house veterinary staff, behaviourists and specialist carers.
  • Each assessment process takes as long as is needed for our team to make the decision(s) that is in each animal’s best interests in all the circumstances.

Time, training and care

  • When animals have health problems, we do everything they we can to provide the necessary veterinary care with the resources available. Injury and illness are treated and cured prior to adoption if possible, but ongoing health problems are not necessarily a bar to rehoming. When animals have been assessed as having manageable medical conditions, adopters are guided and supported so they know what care is needed to ensure a good quality of life in the future.
  • In terms of behavioural issues, we take the time to work with each animal to understand whether problems, such as aggression with other dogs or stress, can be resolved with time, training and care.If so, a Welfare Action Plan is put in place and the animal’s progress regularly assessed for potential rehoming.


If, after assessment, an animal is suitable for rehoming we will care for that animal for as long as it takes for the right ‘forever home’ to be found. In some cases this can take a matter of weeks but for others it may be many months. For some animals, medical conditions or behavioural issues may also increase their length of stay with us, but our aim is to rehabilitate and rehome as many animals as we can.

We ensure that all our animals are placed in loving, responsible and secure homes and support each potential adopter with a home visit. In addition, every member of the family or household visits us to meet the animal and we insist that all other animals in the household are fully vaccinated and where possible, neutered.

When rehoming is not possible

We remain committed to working for a world in which no rehomeable animal is put to sleep. However, problems persist and we are unable to meet an animal’s welfare needs and / or we cannot be confident of rehoming them safely and responsibly then, with great reluctance, we also accept that the sad but necessary decision in the animal’s best interests may be for them to be put to sleep.

These decisions are always based on full veterinary and behavioural evaluation, sometimes carried out over weeks or months. Animals are only put to sleep when our vets and managers assess that this is the right action to protect an animal from suffering, or to protect people or other animals from danger. In all such cases we remain committed to providing the highest standard of care and compassion for the animal concerned.

Sadly, there are also occasions when we receive a dog whose breed is subsequently determined to be banned. In these situations we are obliged by law to take whatever course of action the police request of us, which may include putting the dog to sleep.

We care deeply for all the animals we look after, such decisions are never taken lightly and always account for all the circumstances affecting the welfare of the animal not only at the time but as we can best assess them for the future. Our intake policy means that difficult decisions have to be made on a regular basis. However, our Assessment Process and care ensure that from the moment we receive an animal it gets the very best chance of a safe and happy future.