The topic of this contribution is the moral justification of the use of non-human animals in scientific research. First, we will discuss the position of leading antispeciesist approaches of animal ethics, arguing that a radical position is not tenable and justification of some animal use in research can be given based on the importance of science for human civilization. Such use must be justified case by case. Therefore, the harm-benefit analysis will be introduced, as an example of a case-by-case scenario. We will describe the challenge encountered by the evaluators of project proposals, and possible ways of considering harms and benefits in basic, translational and regulatory research, minimizing harms and possible future scenarios. Our approach can be regarded as a virtue consequentialist view of the ethics of human/animal relationships in scientific use, where the development of a morally appreciable character is a key topic for the education of scientists.
A stray dog problem is not necessarily due to animals not owned. In fact, it can be caused by owned dogs allowed to roam and reproduce freely around the whole territory. And if the authorities limit themselves to the policy of catching the dogs and keeping them in shelters, the problem will never be solved. Instead, the shelters will soon be very overcrowded, with tremendous animal welfare issues for the imprisoned animals and at a very high cost for the public. Spay/neuter and return projects will instead reduce the number of dogs in the territory and are an essential way of keeping constant control. This is what my experience in Southern Italy taught me.
Breakthroughs in gene editing technologies have made it feasible to create genetically altered (GA) non-human primate (NHP) models of disease. This area of research is accelerating, particularly in China, Japan and the USA, and could lead to an increase in NHP use globally. The hope is that genetic models in animal species closely related to humans will significantly improve understanding of neurological diseases and validation of potential therapeutic interventions, for which there is a dire need. However, the creation and use of GA NHPs raises serious animal welfare and ethical issues, which are highlighted here. It represents a step change in how these highly sentient animals are used in biomedical research, because of the large numbers required, inherent wastage and the sum of the harms caused to the animals involved. There is little evidence of these important issues being addressed alongside the rapidly advancing science. We are still learning about how gene editing tools work in NHPs, and significant added scientific and medical benefit from GA NHP models has yet to be demonstrated. Together, this suggests that current regulatory and review frameworks, in some jurisdictions at least, are not adequately equipped to deal with this emerging, complex area of NHP use.
This article introduces readers to the status of sighthounds in Spain, the abuse they endure at the hands of humans, and the work being carried out to help them by Galgos Del Sol, a local rescue with international partners. This paper is not based on empirical data or on scientific methods; it is, however, sourced directly from the experiences of an established Spanish sighthound rescue organisation, and affords the reader a unique and informed insight into this area.
The management of shelter dogs whose dangerousness to people has been verified is an aspect of considerable importance as it assesses animal welfare, public health, and the management of human and economic resources. In this paper, we briefly discuss the case of a large sized male dog that had bitten people several times and was declared to be at high risk of causing danger. Despite a behavioral rehabilitation program, the initial evidence of dangerousness remained unchanged, thus, there was no possibility of putting the dog up for adoption. This clinical case is an example of how conflicting it is for a behaviorist to choose ethically when considering euthanasia and animal welfare.
During the last 30 years the law regarding stray dogs in Italy evolved from employing euthanasia for these dogs after three days, to long term kenneling of all dogs not seriously or incurably ill or proven aggressive. This was a highly ethical law whose application was extremely difficult because of the lack of financial resources and adequate kenneling facilities. It is fair, necessary and urgent to adopt ethical choices in managing problems connected with stray dogs but decisions must be taken in consideration with thorough evaluation of the situation. Is long term kenneling a correct way to safeguard dogs’ welfare? Are there tools available to evaluate the welfare of these dogs? The available data about the number of stray dogs, both in kennels and roaming, are up to date? Are there financial resources available? Do the structures necessary to accommodate these animals exist and are they adequate? Countries that still have a kill policy should consider these aspects before legislating on this issue.
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.
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.