AAALAC International is a nonprofit organization that evaluates and accredits research, testing and educational animal care and use programs around the world. The ethical review and oversight processes are key elements of a program, and therefore are thoroughly assessed during the accreditation process. Legal approaches to ethical review and oversight vary across geopolitical areas and are nonexistent in some regions, creating a heterogeneous landscape of processes globally. In AAALAC’s interpretation, ethical and oversight processes must first comply with applicable legislation (engineering standards), but also they must be effective (performance standards). To evaluate the efficacy of each system and be consistent in the assessments, AAALAC relies on a performance-based approach which focuses on the outcome of the process, as AAALAC considers that the same satisfactory outcome can be achieved by different procedures. How AAALAC assesses the combination of legal compliance and the efficacy of ethical review and oversight processes in the international context is described.
According to Directive 2010/63/EU, project proposals involving experiments on animals must be favourably evaluated by the local Animal Welfare Body (AWB) before submission for approval to the central competent authority, i.e., the Ministry of Health in the case of Italy. Here the working experience of the AWB established in one Italian veterinary public health institution is considered and discussed to identify limits, difficulties, and provide suggestions for improvement based on practical cases. Given its pivotal role, the AWB should be strengthened to guarantee the safety and welfare of animals used for scientific purposes, and to further the awareness of researchers about animal welfare and ethics.
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.