Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Ethics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 87630

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Messina, 98168 Messina, Italy
Interests: veterinary internal medicine; companion animals; clinical of infectious diseases; biomarker of disease
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Central Veterinary Administration of the State Veterinary Administration, 120 00 Prague, Czech Republic
Interests: animal protection; animal welfare; animal behavior; stress; husbandry; transport; slaughter
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Animal welfare is a key priority for a civilised society. In fact, in recent decades concern for animal welfare and rights has continued to grow, with increasing demand for measures to protect animals and improve animals’ quality of life. This may derive from increased economic development, the industrialisation of animal farming and experimentation practices, the increased relative importance of companion animals, and/or the extension of a social movement that has, to-date, focused on humans’ rights. Understanding and enhancing animal welfare is necessary for protecting not only animal health, but also human health and environmental protection.

Original manuscripts that address any aspects of animal welfare, ethics and law are invited for this Special Issue.

Topics of special interest are the welfare of domesticated animals (such as companion, farm, and laboratory animals) and wild animals kept in captivity (zoo animals) and the ethics of captivity; animal welfare recommendations and policy; animal welfare legislation, regulation and enforcement; animal welfare science translation into policy and law including education.

Dr. Annamaria Passantino
Dr. Eva Voslarova
Dr. Michela Pugliese
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • animal welfare
  • ethics
  • animal law
  • companion animal
  • farm animal
  • laboratory animal
  • zoo animals

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

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13 pages, 273 KiB  
Article
Animal Welfare Considerations and Ethical Dilemmas Inherent in the Euthanasia of Blind Canine Patients
by Vito Biondi, Michela Pugliese, Eva Voslarova, Alessandra Landi and Annamaria Passantino
Animals 2022, 12(7), 913; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12070913 - 2 Apr 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3634
Abstract
In dogs, several primary or secondary diseases affecting the ocular structures may cause blindness. In cases where the visual impairment is not associated with severe systemic involvement and the animal can still have, predictably, a good “long-term” quality of life, the veterinarian should [...] Read more.
In dogs, several primary or secondary diseases affecting the ocular structures may cause blindness. In cases where the visual impairment is not associated with severe systemic involvement and the animal can still have, predictably, a good “long-term” quality of life, the veterinarian should inform the owner about the differences between humans and animals, concerning the type of visual perception. In the light of the daily findings in veterinary clinic practice, the Authors report four different scenarios with conflicting views between veterinarians and owners about the euthanasia request for a blind dog. They underline how the diagnosis of incipient or already established blindness in dogs can sometimes lead to an inappropriate request for euthanasia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law)
16 pages, 3844 KiB  
Article
Use of Fertility Control (Nicarbazin) in Barcelona: An Effective yet Respectful Method towards Animal Welfare for the Management of Conflictive Feral Pigeon Colonies
by Carlos González-Crespo and Santiago Lavín
Animals 2022, 12(7), 856; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12070856 - 29 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 4326
Abstract
This study describes a three-year evaluation (2017–2019) of a fertility control protocol using nicarbazin (Ovistop®) to reduce the abundance of the most conflictive colonies of feral pigeon, Columba livia var. domestica, in Barcelona, Spain, as a long-term strategy based on [...] Read more.
This study describes a three-year evaluation (2017–2019) of a fertility control protocol using nicarbazin (Ovistop®) to reduce the abundance of the most conflictive colonies of feral pigeon, Columba livia var. domestica, in Barcelona, Spain, as a long-term strategy based on animal welfare. The treatment was supplied to 34 pigeon colonies by automatic hopper feeders installed in public areas. A superiority study and a population monitoring study were carried out to evaluate differences in the abundance of the colonies, as well as the proportion of juveniles, the possible intake of nicarbazin by non-target species and the movement of individuals among colonies. The results showed statistical differences in the population trends between the test (−22.03%) and control (+12.86%) groups, and a significant steady decreasing trend in the pigeon abundance (−55.26%) was registered until the end of 2019. The proportion of juveniles was significatively lower in the test colonies, and a non-target species (Eurasian collared doves, Streptopelia decaocto) was observed consuming in a residual form. The protocol using nicarbazin is able to both control the abundance of pigeons, with no impact over non-target species, and respond to the public interest about animal welfare by providing an ethical method to manage overabundant and/or conflictive populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law)
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11 pages, 2057 KiB  
Article
A Survey Study of Veterinary Student Opinions and Knowledge about Pet Reptiles and Their Welfare
by Mario Ostović, Ivana Sabolek, Aneta Piplica, Ivona Žura Žaja, Sven Menčik, Srebrenka Nejedli and Željka Mesić
Animals 2021, 11(11), 3185; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113185 - 8 Nov 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2956
Abstract
Exotic pet medicine is rapidly evolving, with reptiles becoming increasingly popular pet animals. Yet, there are only a few literature reports on veterinary perception of reptiles kept as pets. The aim of the study was to assess opinions and knowledge of the Croatian [...] Read more.
Exotic pet medicine is rapidly evolving, with reptiles becoming increasingly popular pet animals. Yet, there are only a few literature reports on veterinary perception of reptiles kept as pets. The aim of the study was to assess opinions and knowledge of the Croatian veterinarians-to-be about pet reptiles and their welfare. The questionnaire survey was conducted in the academic year 2019–2020 and included students of all six years of the integrated undergraduate and graduate study at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zagreb. First-year students were surveyed twice, before and after having attended the compulsory course on animal welfare. Questionnaire statements were 5-point Likert scale questions, requiring the students to express their opinions about turtles, lizards and snakes as pets, issues related to their welfare, risks they pose to the health and safety of humans, other animals and the environment, and their self-reported knowledge about pet reptiles. Although expressing higher opinions after having attended the course on animal welfare, first-year student responses remained neutral to most of the statements. Such a trend continued until the end of the study. Student responses revealed that they were uncertain about their knowledge of reptiles as pets, considering different educational areas observed. Study results emphasised the need of alterations in veterinary curriculum and additional student education in reptile medicine. The results obtained have broad implications involving not only the welfare of pet reptiles in clinical practice and elsewhere but also the health and safety of humans and other animals, as well as environmental protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law)
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11 pages, 245 KiB  
Article
The Health and Welfare of Rabbits as Indicated by Post-Mortem Findings at the Slaughterhouse
by Lenka Valkova, Vladimir Vecerek, Eva Voslarova, Veronika Zavrelova, Francesca Conte and Zbynek Semerad
Animals 2021, 11(3), 659; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030659 - 2 Mar 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2170
Abstract
The aim of the study was to assess post-mortem findings according to their localization and the nature of damage and to assess the standard of health and welfare of farmed rabbits on the basis of these findings. A total of 40,206 pathological findings [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to assess post-mortem findings according to their localization and the nature of damage and to assess the standard of health and welfare of farmed rabbits on the basis of these findings. A total of 40,206 pathological findings were recorded in 1,876,929 rabbits slaughtered at slaughterhouses in the Czech Republic in the period from 2010 to 2019. Pathological findings on the limbs (0.84%), the trunk (0.71%), the kidneys (0.17%), and the liver (0.05%), along with generalized changes (0.37%), occurred most frequently. Findings of traumatic origin dominated among findings on the limbs and trunk, which indicates the inappropriate housing and handling rabbits on farms and during transport. Findings in the kidneys and liver were most often of a chronic nature having an evident correlation with the diet of intensively fed rabbits, with shortcomings in the diet having an impact on the parenchyma with chronic manifestations in the liver and kidneys. Among the generalized findings, multiple abscesses, which were probably associated with the infection of injuries occurring during fattening, and emaciation resulting from current husbandry practices, leading to insufficient feed intake or the development of disease in some individuals, predominated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law)
14 pages, 307 KiB  
Article
Why Protect Decapod Crustaceans Used as Models in Biomedical Research and in Ecotoxicology? Ethical and Legislative Considerations
by Annamaria Passantino, Robert William Elwood and Paolo Coluccio
Animals 2021, 11(1), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010073 - 3 Jan 2021
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 5049
Abstract
Decapod crustaceans are widely used as experimental models, due to their biology, their sensitivity to pollutants and/or their convenience of collection and use. Decapods have been viewed as being non-sentient, and are not covered by current legislation from the European Parliament. However, recent [...] Read more.
Decapod crustaceans are widely used as experimental models, due to their biology, their sensitivity to pollutants and/or their convenience of collection and use. Decapods have been viewed as being non-sentient, and are not covered by current legislation from the European Parliament. However, recent studies suggest it is likely that they experience pain and may have the capacity to suffer. Accordingly, there is ethical concern regarding their continued use in research in the absence of protective measures. We argue that their welfare should be taken into account and included in ethical review processes that include the assessment of welfare and the minimization or alleviation of potential pain. We review the current use of these animals in research and the recent experiments that suggest sentience in this group. We also review recent changes in the views of scientists, veterinary scientists and animal charity groups, and their conclusion that these animals are likely to be sentient, and that changes in legislation are needed to protect them. A precautionary approach should be adopted to safeguard these animals from possible pain and suffering. Finally, we recommend that decapods be included in the European legislation concerning the welfare of animals used in experimentation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law)
14 pages, 1567 KiB  
Article
Establishing Animal Welfare Rules of Conduct for the Portuguese Veterinary Profession—Results from a Policy Delphi with Vignettes
by Manuel Magalhães-Sant'Ana, Maria Conceição Peleteiro and George Stilwell
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1596; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091596 - 8 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3015
Abstract
Promoting animal welfare is one of the basic tenets of the veterinary profession and, in doing so, veterinarians are expected to abide to the highest legal and professional standards. However, the Portuguese veterinary code of conduct, established in 1994, largely overlooks animal welfare [...] Read more.
Promoting animal welfare is one of the basic tenets of the veterinary profession and, in doing so, veterinarians are expected to abide to the highest legal and professional standards. However, the Portuguese veterinary code of conduct, established in 1994, largely overlooks animal welfare and fails to address issues such as the euthanasia or humane killing of animals. As part of a wider research aiming to revise the Portuguese veterinary code of conduct, a Policy Delphi study was conducted in late 2018, using a pre-validated three-round structure and vignette methodology, to explore the range of opinions and the level of agreement on end-of-life dilemmas and animal welfare rules of conduct of a purposeful sample of forty-one (out of seventy) Portuguese veterinarians. When faced with ethical vignettes involving end-of-life dilemmas, veterinarians were shown to privilege personal moral agency over legal obligations in order to defend the interests of stakeholders, namely of the animals. Most participants agreed that the suggested animal welfare rules of conduct reflected their own views on the subject (88%), in addition to representing a significant improvement in terms of regulatory standards (93%). We expect that this study will support regulation and policy-making by the Portuguese Veterinary Order and by veterinary representative bodies elsewhere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law)
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10 pages, 856 KiB  
Article
A Leaky Noisy-OR Bayesian Network Applied to Genetic Counseling in Dogs
by Johann. C. Detilleux
Animals 2020, 10(6), 1104; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10061104 - 26 Jun 2020
Viewed by 2259
Abstract
Genetic disorders are very frequent in dogs but evaluating individualized risks of their occurrence can be uncertain. Bayesian networks are tools to characterize and analyze such events. The paper illustrates their benefits and challenges in answering two typical questions in genetic counselling: (1) [...] Read more.
Genetic disorders are very frequent in dogs but evaluating individualized risks of their occurrence can be uncertain. Bayesian networks are tools to characterize and analyze such events. The paper illustrates their benefits and challenges in answering two typical questions in genetic counselling: (1) What is the probability of a test-positive animal showing clinical signs of the disease? (2) What is the risk of testing positive for the mutant allele when one parent presents clinical signs? Current limited knowledge on the hereditary mode of transmission of degenerative myelopathy and on the effects of sex, diet, exercise regimen and age on the occurrence of clinical signs concurrent with the finding of the deleterious mutation was retrieved from the scientific literature. Uncertainty on this information was converted into prior Beta distributions and leaky-noisy OR models were used to construct the conditional probability tables necessary to answer the questions. Results showed the network is appropriate to answer objectively and transparently both questions under a variety of scenarios. Once users of the network have agreed with its structure and the values of the priors, computations are straightforward. The network can be updated automatically and can be represented visually so interactive discussion are easy between the veterinarian and his/her interlocutor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law)
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10 pages, 229 KiB  
Article
The Health and Welfare of Pigs from the Perspective of Post Mortem Findings in Slaughterhouses
by Vladimir Vecerek, Eva Voslarova, Zbynek Semerad and Annamaria Passantino
Animals 2020, 10(5), 825; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050825 - 9 May 2020
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 3729
Abstract
The health and welfare of pigs was evaluated on the basis of the data on patho-anatomic findings obtained during the veterinary examination of pigs slaughtered in slaughterhouses in the Czech Republic in the period from 2010 to 2017. High numbers of lesions in [...] Read more.
The health and welfare of pigs was evaluated on the basis of the data on patho-anatomic findings obtained during the veterinary examination of pigs slaughtered in slaughterhouses in the Czech Republic in the period from 2010 to 2017. High numbers of lesions in organs found especially in lungs (finisher pigs 41%, sows 24% and piglets 52%), kidneys (finisher pigs 14%, sows 32% and piglets 15%) and liver (finisher pigs 12%, sows 18% and piglets 19 %) indicate impaired health and welfare of pigs transported for slaughter. The differences in the number of findings between finisher pigs, sows and piglets were statistically significant (p < 0.001). The character of most findings was chronic, which document health and welfare problems occurring on farms as a result of the current pig husbandry. However, acute findings were also detected and indicated processes occurring shortly before and during transport to the slaughterhouse. An important finding is the incidence of parasitic lesions in the liver in finisher pigs (finisher pigs 4%, sows 1% and piglets 1%) that documents persistent occurrence of parasitic invasions on pig farms. Findings of traumatic lesions on limbs in sows and piglets (finisher pigs 0.08%, sows 0.14% and piglets 0.15%) are far below the frequency of the findings in organs; however, their incidence should be further reduced by adjusting the technology of housing, transport and handling. In conclusion, the level of health and related welfare of pigs based on the assessment of post mortem findings in the slaughterhouses vary. Overall, the worst situation is in piglets, followed by sows and the best evaluated are finisher pigs. Post mortem inspection revealed significant numbers of patho-anatomic changes even in pigs considered fit to be transported to the slaughterhouse and slaughtered for human consumption. It is clear that there is still a considerable space for improving the level of health and welfare of the individual categories of pigs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law)
20 pages, 3102 KiB  
Article
Effect of Research Impact on Emerging Camel Husbandry, Welfare and Social-Related Awareness
by Carlos Iglesias Pastrana, Francisco Javier Navas González, Elena Ciani, Cecilio José Barba Capote and Juan Vicente Delgado Bermejo
Animals 2020, 10(5), 780; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050780 - 30 Apr 2020
Cited by 31 | Viewed by 12424
Abstract
The lack of applied scientific research on camels, despite them being recognized as production animals, compels the reorganization of emerging camel breeding systems with the aim of achieving successful camel welfare management strategies all over the world. Relevant and properly-framed research widely impacts [...] Read more.
The lack of applied scientific research on camels, despite them being recognized as production animals, compels the reorganization of emerging camel breeding systems with the aim of achieving successful camel welfare management strategies all over the world. Relevant and properly-framed research widely impacts dissemination of scientific contents and drives public willingness to enhance ethically acceptable conditions for domestic animals. Consumer perception of this livestock industry will improve and high-quality products will be obtained. This paper draws on bibliometric indicators as promoting factors for camel-related research advances, tracing historical scientific publications indexed in ScienceDirect directory from 1880–2019. Camel as a species did not affect Journal Citation Reports (JCR) impact (p > 0.05) despite the journal, author number, corresponding author origin, discipline and publication year affecting it (p < 0.001). Countries with traditionally well-established camel farming are also responsible for the papers with the highest academic impact. However, camel research advances may have only locally and partially influenced welfare related laws, so intentional harming acts and basic needs neglect may persist in these species. A sustainable camel industry requires those involved in camel research to influence business stakeholders and animal welfare advocacies by highlighting the benefits of camel wellbeing promotion, co-innovation partnership establishment and urgent enhancement of policy reform. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law)
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Review

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22 pages, 2547 KiB  
Review
Animal Abuse as an Indicator of Domestic Violence: One Health, One Welfare Approach
by Daniel Mota-Rojas, Stefany Monsalve, Karina Lezama-García, Patricia Mora-Medina, Adriana Domínguez-Oliva, Ramiro Ramírez-Necoechea and Rita de Cassia Maria Garcia
Animals 2022, 12(8), 977; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12080977 - 10 Apr 2022
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 11820
Abstract
For years now, the importance of animal cruelty has been gaining recognition in the industrialized cities of the West. Animal cruelty encompasses any act that causes a non-human animal unnecessary pain or suffering, including negligence, abandonment, abuse, torture, bestiality, and even theriocide. This [...] Read more.
For years now, the importance of animal cruelty has been gaining recognition in the industrialized cities of the West. Animal cruelty encompasses any act that causes a non-human animal unnecessary pain or suffering, including negligence, abandonment, abuse, torture, bestiality, and even theriocide. This represents a red flag for society as a whole because people who commit such acts can escalate violence and direct it to other individuals. Animal cruelty and interpersonal violence—as well as other socially undesirable conduct such as bullying, antisocial personality disorder, rape, and serial murder—are closely related, so timely diagnoses of either one can help prevent acts of aggression. It is necessary, therefore, to analyze and try to understand whether there are early indicators that may help identify potentially violent individuals. It is well known that kids from homes with actual violence in their homes show a high tendency to reproduce such behaviors with both animals and other people. In conclusion, much research and rethinking of the importance of the veterinarian in detecting animal abuse and cruelty is needed to help detect and prevent cases of interpersonal violence that may arise over time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law)
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24 pages, 2719 KiB  
Review
Anthropomorphism and Its Adverse Effects on the Distress and Welfare of Companion Animals
by Daniel Mota-Rojas, Chiara Mariti, Andrea Zdeinert, Giacomo Riggio, Patricia Mora-Medina, Alondra del Mar Reyes, Angelo Gazzano, Adriana Domínguez-Oliva, Karina Lezama-García, Nancy José-Pérez and Ismael Hernández-Ávalos
Animals 2021, 11(11), 3263; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113263 - 15 Nov 2021
Cited by 32 | Viewed by 17629
Abstract
Anthropomorphic practices are increasing worldwide. Anthropomorphism is defined as the tendency to attribute human forms, behaviors, and emotions to non-human animals or objects. Anthropomorphism is particularly relevant for companion animals. Some anthropomorphic practices can be beneficial to them, whilst others can be very [...] Read more.
Anthropomorphic practices are increasing worldwide. Anthropomorphism is defined as the tendency to attribute human forms, behaviors, and emotions to non-human animals or objects. Anthropomorphism is particularly relevant for companion animals. Some anthropomorphic practices can be beneficial to them, whilst others can be very detrimental. Some anthropomorphic behaviors compromise the welfare and physiology of animals by interfering with thermoregulation, while others can produce dehydration due to the loss of body water, a condition that brings undesirable consequences such as high compensatory blood pressure and heat shock, even death, depending on the intensity and frequency of an animal’s exposure to these stressors. Malnutrition is a factor observed due to consumption of junk food or an imbalance in caloric proportions. This can cause obesity in pets that may have repercussions on their locomotor apparatus. Intense human–animal interaction can also lead to the establishment of attachment that impacts the mental state and behavior of animals, making them prone to develop aggression, fear, or anxiety separation syndrome. Another aspect is applying cosmetics to pets, though scientific studies have not yet determined whether cosmetic products such as coat dyes, nail polish, and lotions are beneficial or harmful for the animals, or to what extent. The cohabitation of animals in people’s homes can also constitute a public health risk due to infectious and zoonotic diseases. In this context, this paper aims to analyze the adverse effects of anthropomorphism on the welfare of companion animals from several angles—physiological, sanitary, and behavioral—based on a discussion of current scientific findings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law)
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13 pages, 301 KiB  
Review
Humane Slaughter of Edible Decapod Crustaceans
by Francesca Conte, Eva Voslarova, Vladimir Vecerek, Robert William Elwood, Paolo Coluccio, Michela Pugliese and Annamaria Passantino
Animals 2021, 11(4), 1089; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041089 - 11 Apr 2021
Cited by 32 | Viewed by 11487
Abstract
Vast numbers of crustaceans are produced by aquaculture and caught in fisheries to meet the increasing demand for seafood and freshwater crustaceans. Simultaneously, the public is increasingly concerned about current methods employed in their handling and killing. Recent evidence has shown that decapod [...] Read more.
Vast numbers of crustaceans are produced by aquaculture and caught in fisheries to meet the increasing demand for seafood and freshwater crustaceans. Simultaneously, the public is increasingly concerned about current methods employed in their handling and killing. Recent evidence has shown that decapod crustaceans probably have the capacity to suffer because they show responses consistent with pain and have a relatively complex cognitive capacity. For these reasons, they should receive protection. Despite the large numbers of crustaceans transported and slaughtered, legislation protecting their welfare, by using agreed, standardized methods, is lacking. We review various stunning and killing systems proposed for crustaceans, and assess welfare concerns. We suggest the use of methods least likely to cause suffering and call for the implementation of welfare guidelines covering the slaughter of these economically important animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law)

Other

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13 pages, 219 KiB  
Commentary
Legal and Ethical Aspects of ‘Best Interests’ Decision-Making for Medical Treatment of Companion Animals in the UK
by Carol Gray and Peter Fordyce
Animals 2020, 10(6), 1009; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10061009 - 9 Jun 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3905
Abstract
Medical decisions for young children are made by those with parental responsibility, with legal involvement only if the decision is potentially detrimental to the child’s welfare. While legally classified as property, some argue that animals are in a similar position to children; treatment [...] Read more.
Medical decisions for young children are made by those with parental responsibility, with legal involvement only if the decision is potentially detrimental to the child’s welfare. While legally classified as property, some argue that animals are in a similar position to children; treatment decisions are made by their owners, posing a legal challenge only if the proposed treatment has the potential to cause harm or unnecessary suffering, as defined by animal protection legislation. This paper formulates the approach to a ‘best interests’ calculation, utilising the factors included in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and relying on exchange of information between the human parties involved. Although this form of decision-making must primarily protect the animal from unnecessary suffering, it recognises that the information provided by the owner is critical in articulating the animal’s non-medical interests, and hence in formulating what is in the animal’s best overall welfare interests. While statute law does not mandate consideration of ‘best interests’ for animals, this approach might reasonably be expected as a professional imperative for veterinary surgeons. Importantly, this version of a ‘best interests’ calculation can be incorporated into existing ethical frameworks for medical decision-making and the humane treatment of animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law)
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