Edited by Dikaia Chatziefstathiou and Andrea Kathryn Talentino
Line Kollerup Oftedal and Jes Lynning Harfeld
The general claim behind the use of psychiatric service dogs is that the dogs, given their individual training, can provide a bigger sense of independency and safety for people struggling with mental health issues such as PTSD. Struggling with these types of mental health issues is thought to be associated with a self-undermining feeling of shame that, in turn, reinforces the mental health issue in question. This particular experience is, we believe, not present, or present in only a limited sense, in a positive emotional relationship with a dog. Thus, understanding the phenomenon of shame and its influence on the dog-human relationship may help us understand why such a relationship can be beneficiary to people struggling with PTSD and possibly a variety of other mental health issues. The concept of shame is most suitably thought of as a social and relational phenomenon. That is, as an emotion elicited by others and related to certain societal and cultural standards, ideals and norms. Shame is experienced as a painful emotion that negatively affects our self-perception and includes the risk of producing a self-undermining shame that can lead to social withdrawal and a continuous vicious circle of shame. In this article we address these psychological phenomena from within a philosophical framework, and we argue that a positive relationship between a dog and a human can provide a valuable social space in which shame becomes less present. Such a social space necessitates the presence of a connection between relational beings—i.e., beings with advanced mental and emotional capacities. Thus, we argue that the understanding of any dog-human relationship must include an approach beyond the somewhat still existing confines of objective natural science and its implied skepticism and agnosticism towards animal mind. We introduce an approach to dog life and dog-human relationships inspired by phenomenology. This approach enables an understanding of the dog as a bodily being, who lives in and experiences the world around her in co-existence with relevant similar others, including humans. We argue that such an approach is a sound way of trying to understand dog-human relationships and provides a key to a better understanding of the concept of shame in connection with such relationships.
P. Dalla Villa, P. Migliaccio, I. Innocenti, M. Nardoia and D.C. Lafiandra
Among the several factors affecting animal welfare, non-epidemic emergencies are very stressful events. In the aftermath of earthquakes or during flooding, snowstorms and wildfires, companion animals are subject to injuries and deep stress, abandonment or loss resulting in the overcrowding of animal shelters, or in emergent free-roaming populations representing a potential public health threat to the affected communities. The loss of animals often also results in significant psychological trauma for their guardians. For these reasons in all phases of calamities, the care of companion animals becomes essential. This paper describes the activities that were carried out for the veterinary care of dogs and cats affected by the earthquakes that occurred in central Italy from August 2016 to January 2017. These disasters provided an opportunity to test an integrated emergency management system in which several actors participated to aid, assist and accommodate the companion animals, whether owned or strays, affected by the catastrophic events.
E. Natoli, G. Cariola, G. Dall’Oglio and P. Valsecchi
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.
Simona Normando and Antonio Mollo
Animal shelters, pounds and rescue organisations have evolved over time. Today they serve three purposes: to reduce animal welfare harms, to reduce harms to the community associated with free-roaming, stray or unwanted companion animals, and to reduce their associated environmental harms. This discussion explores the evolution of animal shelters, and argues that they are justified on utilitarian grounds. It explores unintended harms of shelters on animal welfare, including humane killing for the purposes of population control and shelter population management, as well as risks associated with confinement including behavioural deterioration and infectious diseases. It also explores harms to non-human animals, including moral distress and compassion fatigue. Finally, it explores potential environmental harms of shelters. The One Welfare concept, utilised in the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) Global Animal Welfare Strategy, acknowledges the interplay between animal welfare, human well-being and environmental sustainability. It is argued that the One Welfare framework is critical in minimising harms and maximising benefits associated with animal shelters.
Yasemin Salgirli Demirbas, Begum Saral, C. Etkin Safak and Gonçalo Graça Da Pereira
Turkey is one of the developing countries facing a serious free-ranging dog problem. Although the Catch, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return (CNVR) method has been implemented in shelters since 2004, the population of free ranging dogs continues to increase. In this review, Turkey’s control strategy for free-ranging dog population, its effectiveness and other factors affecting free-ranging dog control are discussed.
Candace C. Croney
As the dog’s popularity as a human companion has grown, demand for purebred dogs has likewise escalated. Commercial breeding of dogs, which currently helps to meet such demands has become a point of social contention. The co-evolution of dogs and humans and the unique, familial relationships people have developed with them suggest that they are owed special consideration of their needs and interests that is independent of their utility to humans. Not surprisingly, opposition to commercial breeding enterprises has increased dramatically in the past decade in the US and abroad, spawning a growing number of legislative initiatives aimed at regulating such operations, which are widely believed to harm dogs. Among the most significant ethical problems embedded in commercial dog breeding are the potential for insults to the human-dog bond, failure to duly consider and meet duties of care to dogs, including dogs’ welfare needs and interests, and insufficient regulation of dog care standards. The shortage of published science on the actual conditions experienced by dogs in commercial breeding kennels complicates understanding of the nature and severity of problems as well as solutions. It is argued that despite the concerns associated with commercial dog breeding, abolishing the practice without identifying an ethically preferable alternative that meets demands could result in even worse consequences for dogs. Given this problem, commercial breeding could be ethically defensible under conditions that vastly reduce or eliminate potential for dog suffering, and with strict regulatory oversight of corresponding standards of care for dogs.
Eugenia Natoli, Nadja Ziegler, Agnés Dufau and Maria Pinto Teixeira
Besides the population of pet cats, another feline population that has regular and frequent relationships with the human population, is represented by unowned, free-roaming domestic cats. It is incontestable that part of human beings is responsible for the growing number of unwanted cats. The problems raised by the existence of free-roaming cat population range from acoustic and hygienic nuisance (because of loud vocalizations during the breeding season and bad smell due to sprayed urine from tomcats) to public health threat (because of the potential spread of zoonotic diseases and of diseases to pet cats and other species), to predation of wildlife (it can cause disruption of ecosystems). Undoubtedly, unowned free-roaming cat population has to be managed but, in the third millennium, human control strategies have to have an ethical dimension. In this paper, we propose an analysis of the National Laws in France, Spain, UK, Austria, Portugal and Italy. Based on the knowledge of domestic cat behavior, we suggest that when the TNR strategy for controlling domestic cat populations is applied by law in the mentioned countries, the basic needs and welfare of the species are respected.
Despite the growing popularity of cats as pets, many cats end up housed for long periods of time in shelters. These shelters are increasingly under the spotlight by local communities in the way in which they deal with problematic issues, for they may be seen as an example or as target of criticism. In regards to cat (re)homing there are several relevant welfare and ethical issues. Shelters should have a proactive and well-defined strategy to improve welfare and reduce the number of sheltered cats. Those with the authority to make decisions should consider the available resources and hold in perspective the viewpoints of others, especially that of the cat. The challenge is to avoid judgments based on our own quality of life standards which may lead to decisions based on emotional factors to manage the situation. Is it moral for humans to poses the power to determine a cat’s fate? Despite not having an answer for what is the right solution, the way to proceed should be clearly defined. If there is a strategy and a plan, there is an opportunity to readjust and improve. What are the main reasons for all these problems? Most of the related questions don’t have direct answers. However, instead of reacting in order to solve the problem, we should proactively focus on prevention, mainly through population control and education, knowing that what seems good and right at that moment might be considered wrong and obsolete in a near future, in the light of the development of scientific knowledge and societal values.