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TROUBLED WATERS - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

TROUBLED WATERS - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

3 An introduction to

3 An introduction to animal welfare Philip Lymbery, Director of Communications, World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), London, UK. Animal welfare as a scientific discipline incorporates applied aspects of ethology, bioethics and the concepts of suffering and well-being (World Veterinary Association 2000). Welfare, including health, has many different aspects and is defined by both the physical and psychological state of an animal, including how it feels (Webster 2003). The welfare state of an animal can be described as good or high if the individual is fit, healthy and free from suffering. Scientists have defined the term ‘suffering’ in animals to mean a “wide range of unpleasant emotional states” (Dawkins 1980) including fear, frustration and pain. ‘Pain’ has been defined as an aversive sensation and feeling associated with actual or potential tissue damage (Broom 2001; Iggo 1984). Physiological, behavioural and learning responses show that feelings of pain exist in many types of animal (Broom 2001), including mammals, birds and other vertebrates (Melzack and Dennis 1980). Animals may suffer due to disease, injury, fear, or the frustration of basic needs. A ‘need’ is defined as a requirement fundamental in the biology of the animal, to obtain a particular resource or respond to a particular environmental or bodily stimulus (Broom & Johnson 1993). If a need is not provided for then there will be an effect on physiology or behaviour. One important basic need is that an animal should not suffer at the time of its death. The Five Freedoms were developed by the UK’s Farm Animal Welfare Council and are used in many countries as a useful measure by which to assess animal welfare. Although originally devised to assess welfare in farming systems, they can equally be applied to animals in other situations, e.g. working, companion, laboratory, entertainment, and wild animals. The Five Freedoms (FAWC 2003) are: • Freedom from hunger and thirst • Freedom from discomfort • Freedom from pain, injury and disease • Freedom from fear and distress • Freedom to express normal behaviour The Five Freedoms are a useful ‘checklist’ by which to identify situations which compromise good animal welfare – that is, any situation that causes fear, pain, discomfort, injury, disease, or behavioural distress. Welfare is a consideration of living, not dead, animals. Death is not a welfare issue in itself, although death may indicate poor welfare, for example, in the case of mortality resulting from disease. Although death itself is not a welfare issue, the manner of death is relevant. For example, the method of killing can cause either instantaneous death, or pain and distress prior to death. AN INTRODUCTION TO ANIMAL WELFARE 13

14 A REVIEW OF THE WELFARE IMPLICATIONS OF MODERN WHALING ACTIVITIES Protecting the welfare of animals involves the prevention of unnecessary animal suffering, and thereby ensuring a good quality of life and a humane death. The key difference between conservation and animal welfare is that conservation focuses on species and populations, whereas animal welfare focuses on the individual animal and its suffering. In recent years, methodologies have been developed for assessing animal welfare scientifically (e.g Fraser and Broom 1990). The scientific study of animal welfare has reached a stage of maturity at which firm conclusions can be drawn on whether or not an animal is suffering in particular circumstances (Baxter 1994). Major concerns for animal welfare arise from animal husbandry, handling and killing practices with low welfare potential i.e. those that fail to meet the behavioural and physical needs of the animal and thereby have the potential to cause pain or suffering. References Baxter, M.R. 1994. The welfare problems of laying hens in battery cages. The Veterinary Record (June 1994), 134, 614-619. Broom, D.M. 2001. Evolution of pain. In: Pain: its nature and management in man and animals. Eds: Soulsby, Lord E.J.L. and Morton, D. Roy. Soc. Med. Int. Cong. Symp. Ser., 246, 17-25. Broom, D.M. and Johnson, K.G. 1993. Stress and Animal Welfare. Kluwer Academic Publishers Dawkins, M.S. 1980. Animal Suffering. London, Chapman and Hall. FAWC 2003. Farm Animal Welfare Council. London, UK. Website: (accessed 16th November 2003) Fraser, A.F. and Broom, D.M., 1990. Farm animal behaviour and welfare (third edition). Bailliere Tindall: London. Iggo, A. 1984. Pain in Animals. Hume Memorial Lecture. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, Potters Bar, UK. Melzack, R. and Dennis, S.G., 1980. Phylogenetic evolution of pain expression in animals. In: H.W. Kosterlitz and L.Y. Terenius, Eds. Pain and Society, Report of Dahlem Workshop. Weinheim: Verlag Chemie. pp. 13-26. Webster, A.J.F. 2003. In: Concepts in Animal Welfare. World Society for the Protection of Animals: London, UK. World Veterinary Association 2000. Policy Statement of the World Veterinary Association on Animal Welfare, Well-Being and Ethology. In: Concepts in Animal Welfare. WSPA: London, UK.

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