Considerations of Ethical Aspects of Control Strategies of Unowned Free-Roaming Dog Populations and the No-Kill Policy in Italy

in Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research
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Abstract

The management of free-roaming dog populations is an important matter both for the local administrations that have to manage this problem and for the defenders of the animals’ rights. This review’s first objective is to analyse the legal status of the free-roaming dogs in some European countries. A second purpose of this work is to ask questions and to consider the ethical aspects of the already-existing strategies to control free-roaming dog populations. Italian Law no. 281, which was enacted in 1991, was intended to solve the problem of free-roaming dogs in Italy; at the same time, apparently in contradiction with this objective, the law called for a no-kill policy to be enforced throughout the whole national territory. Thus, for a dog that has no chances of adoption, the ethical debate has moved to the question of whether a “life imprisonment” is better than the “capital punishment”. In terms of ethical aspects of control strategies of free-roaming dog populations, we believe that the Italian national law, and its regional applications, are more functional than the other laws of Westernized countries, with the appropriate measures suggested and with a more accurate control on their application.

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Figures
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    Percentages of dogs, detailed for sex, breed and size, present in the shelter after some years from the entrance
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    Percentages of dogs adopted within a certain time interval after the entrance, reported on the base of their age when adopted
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    Number of dogs present in 2015 in public and private shelters in the Italian regions according to the survey of the Italian Ministry of Health
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