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The Three R’s as a Framework for Considering the Ethics of Animal Assisted Interventions

In: Society & Animals
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Martina Simonato Italian National Reference Centre for Animal Assisted Interventions, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie Legnaro (PD) Italy

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Marta De Santis Italian National Reference Centre for Animal Assisted Interventions, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie Legnaro (PD) Italy

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Laura Contalbrigo Italian National Reference Centre for Animal Assisted Interventions, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie Legnaro (PD) Italy

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Barbara De Mori Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science, University of Padova Legnaro (PD) Italy

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Licia Ravarotto Health Awareness and Communication Department, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie Legnaro (PD) Italy

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Luca Farina Italian National Reference Centre for Animal Assisted Interventions, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie Legnaro (PD) Italy

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Abstract

Animal assisted interventions (AAI) have seen a significant development in the last fifty years. They are based on human-animal interactions, and some scientific research is beginning to provide evidence for the benefits of these interventions. However, ethical issues, particularly from the animals’ point of view, are yet to be considered properly. This article contextualizes AAI and the ethical issues concerning the animals involved. Then it outlines the potential adaptation of the Three Rs principle (replacement, reduction, refinement) to this field, considering all aspects related to animal behavior, health, and wellbeing. The analysis of the conditions for the application is accompanied by suggestions to guide research and general practice in AAI in favor of animal welfare, including assessment of the environmental conditions and competence of the professionals involved. Finally, a fourth R, Relationship, is proposed as the distinctive R for ethical AAI practice, possibly interpreted as cooperation.

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