I had the privilege of speaking with Virginia McKenna earlier in the year, just before her 8oth birthday. Amazing lady, the “Born Free” Foundation continues to help lions and other animals. A striking woman, whose love for animals shines out. Read her interview, she has given some interesting answers.
The Born Free Foundation, Horsham, Sussex
Until 5 years ago I always had a dog, or dogs, in my life. But I travel a lot for Born Free, and as we never put our dogs in kennels (except quarantine kennels years ago), I decided – for a while – not to have one. I do miss them though.
Q1 What makes a good pet owner?
I like to call them companion animals. Pets, to me, implies non-stop cuddling and stroking. Which is fine, but somehow it leaves out a part of the relationship which involves respect, and understanding the animal as an individual.
Q2 How do you make your pet’s life the best possible?
A healthy, balanced diet, exercise, appreciating the animal’s needs and likes and dislikes. And obedience-training with kindness. Obedience means safety.
Q3 What campaign or law would you create to improve the life of pets in the UK?
First and foremost I would ban the keeping of wild species. Also I would ban the keeping of birds in cages. Does no one ask why birds have wings? I would also ban puppy farms immediately. There are already far too many unwanted dogs needing a safe and loving home.
Q4 What advice would you give to someone buying their first pet?
Make sure you understand the needs of the dog or the cat, or the rabbit. Keeping a rabbit permanently in a hutch is cruel – look at the rabbits in a field and you will realise this. If you cannot walk your dog in a park or a field each day, or have to leave it alone when you are at work all day, please don’t get one. If possible, (and you can offer it a good life), take one from a rescue centre.
Q5 What animal have you never owned but want to and why?
I have never wanted to ‘own’ an animal. If I do get another dog one day, it will be a ‘rescue’ and we will share life together.
Our sincere thanks to Virginia McKenna for her interview.