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Animal Welfare and Animal Rights

An Exploratory Study of Veterinary Students’ Perspectives

Nadine Dolby and Annette Litster


Veterinarians routinely position themselves as the professionals who are most knowledgeable about non-human animals, and the public turns to them for guidance in matters of animal health and welfare. However, as research indicates, there is a considerable gap between what the public thinks veterinarians know and the actual veterinary curriculum. This study investigates the perspectives of veterinary students towards issues of animal welfare and animal rights, based on the results of a 2012 survey. Results indicate that veterinary students have limited and narrow understandings of both concepts, and that their knowledge is shaped by their professional socialization in veterinary education. Despite the enormous ethical complexity and diversity of philosophical perspectives that are inherent to both animal welfare and animal rights positions, veterinary students typically are not adequately prepared for a career that is located at the very center of these debates.

Composite Respect for Animals Scale

Full and Brief Versions

Christoph Randler, Janine Binngießer and Christian Vollmer


A valid and convenient method to measure nonhuman animal attitudes contributes to feasible survey studies and the evaluation of educational programs. There are established scales for measuring animal attitudes but only some have acceptable psychometric properties: others address only a small fraction of the constructs, and some are overly long. We therefore aimed to develop a short, practicable measurement of animal attitudes that contains the constructs developed previously. Two studies were conducted: in the first one, 127 items were subjected to an exploratory factor analysis, which extracted 51 items in 10 factors. The scale was reduced to 20 items retaining all of the initial constructs with 13 positive and 7 negative items, which were subjected to a confirmatory factor analysis in study 2. Correlations with personality, meat consumption, age, and gender provide evidence for validity. We suggest using this short, unidimensional Composite Respect for Animals Scale covering a broad construct.

Deprivation as Un-Experienced Harm?

A Critical Analysis of Tom Regan’s Principle of Harm

Külli Keerus, Mickey Gjerris and Helena Röcklinsberg


Tom Regan encapsulated his principle of harm as a prima facie direct duty not to harm experiencing subjects of a life. However, his consideration of harm as deprivation, one example of which is loss of freedom, can easily be interpreted as a harm, which may not be experienced by its subject. This creates a gap between Regan’s criterion for moral status and his account of what our duties are. However, in comparison with three basic paradigms of welfare known in nonhuman animal welfare science, Regan’s understanding coheres with a modified version of a feelings-based paradigm: not only the immediate feelings of satisfaction, but also future opportunities to have such feelings, must be taken into account. Such an interpretation is compatible with Regan’s understanding of harm as deprivation. The potential source of confusion, however, lies in Regan’s own possible argumentative mistakes.

Ruben Hoffmann, Carl-Johan Lagerkvist, Malin Hagberg Gustavsson and Bodil Ström Holst


Although various benefits of cats and dogs have been extensively studied, their fundamental economic value is poorly understood. Economic values are, in contrast to monetary values, determined subjectively and guide individuals in their decisions. This study presents a conceptual economic model of the value of cats and dogs which provides a basis for future research. Benefits of cats and dogs identified in the literature are categorized in relation to the model. The multidimensional value of these nonhuman animals includes different use and non-use values, for caretakers and other humans. Data from an online survey on the salience (importance of attributes in memory) of cats and dogs in Sweden provide support for the proposed model. It is argued that the subjective well-being approach developed in psychology provides a good starting point for estimating many of the economic values of these animals, but that different types of values may require different approaches.

T. N. Duchene and L. M. Jackson


This study examined the effectiveness of persuasive messages intended to encourage people to eat more plant foods and fewer nonhuman animal foods. One hundred twelve participants reported their eating habits and read an article that emphasized health or ethical implications of food choices as well as a brochure that used autonomy promoting or controlling motivational framing to encourage eating plant foods. They then indicated their future eating intentions. Across conditions, participants reported the intention to eat more plant foods following the manipulations compared to their current eating habits. In addition, people who perceived the article as promoting greater choice in eating habits reported an intention to decrease their consumption of meat and increase their consumption of higher protein plant foods. These findings can assist animal rights or welfare advocates, health-care practitioners, and educators in encouraging people to eat more plant foods and fewer animal foods.

Paul W.C. Wong, Rose W.M. Yu, Tim M.H. Li, Steven L.H. Lai, Henry Y.H. Ng and William T.W. Fan


This is an evaluation study of a pilot multicomponent program with animal-assisted therapy (AAT) for socially withdrawn youth with or without mental health problems in Hong Kong. There were fifty-six participants. Decreased level of social anxiety, and increased levels of perceived employability and self-esteem across two withdrawn groups were observed. When comparing those who did and did not receive the AAT component(s), however, AAT did not seem to have additional impacts on outcomes. The qualitative data collected through interviews with ten participants reflected that the AAT component was attractive because the nonhuman animals made them feel respected and loved. This pilot study showed that a multicomponent program with a case management model correlated with increased levels of self-esteem and perceived employability, and a decreased level of social interaction anxiety. In addition, using nonhuman animals in a social service setting appears to be a good strategy to engage difficult-to-engage young people.

Olivia Dieser and Franz X. Bogner


Large carnivores such as wolves and lynxes have recently been re-established in some regions of Central Europe. In Central Europe only, scattered information about public background knowledge exists, whereas in Scandinavia, perceptions and/or natural history knowledge about those nonhuman animals only were monitored occasionally. Determining associations with wolves and lynxes among young students therefore is an important subject and offers great support when planning educational interventions. An educational module was offered to a sample of 4th and 5th graders (n = 311), which involved individual observations of wolves and lynxes in Animal Ground enclosures of a National Park. Before, during, and after participation, word associations of the stimuli words “wolf” and “lynx” were collected from all students, indicating a negative impression of those animals before the intervention, especially of the wolf. Our intervention decreased this negative image and improved the background knowledge of these species. Recommendations are discussed.

Marcel Robischon


Intangible natural heritage is a concept that has been addressed in several publications and that offers a new and expanded view onto world heritage conservation. However, the difference from intangible cultural heritage has not been clearly defined. One distinction in the categories of world heritage that are established in international conventions appears where “the intangible” is not created by humans but by a nonhuman animal. Living organisms sustain human life materially and provide inspiration to humans, both in their material form and by displaying behaviors, or via observable, yet not tangible, dynamic phenomena and processes. This includes migration patterns, aggregations, vocalizations or the formation of symbiotic and mutualistic inter-species relationships. Given the non-material character of these elements, their transmission by nonhuman living beings, and their importance to human culture, it is proposed that such phenomena are considered as intangible natural heritage sensu stricto in the discourse of world heritage.

Patricia Burke Wood


This paper documents the significance of horses to Irish Travellers, on several fronts, to demonstrate their unusual relationship with horses as companion animals and as work animals in a non-farm context. Their multiple attachments and engagement are analyzed in the context of the literature in human–nonhuman animal relations and animal geographies, which helps illuminate the ways in which horses have shaped Traveller geographies and identities, and how these associations have become politicized. The 1996 Control of Horses Act has led to greater restrictions on the keeping of horses; the impact of the loss of this animal from Traveller daily life is discussed. This research also helps fill a gap in the literature on horses and urban and rural landscapes in Ireland, which has to date largely excluded Travellers.