General Animal Protection
National Survey Shows Majority of Americans Polled Support Freedom to Choose Dogs, Regardless of BreedSubmitted on Mar 19, 2014 (Original item from 2014) Companion Animals | General Animal Protection
In response to public or media pressure following high-profile dog attack incidents, many countries have banned or restricted ownership of certain dog breeds. However, research indicates that dog attacks are influenced by many factors aside from breed, and that breed-specific legislation is ineffective at reducing dog bites or improving public safety. 17 U.S. states have passed bills to prohibit breed discrimination and enact behavior-based, breed-neutral dangerous dog laws. This article cites a recent survey that shows widespread support for this trend. The authors call for ordinances that protect communities from any dangerous dog, regardless of breed, and also protect dogs from abusive or neglectful owners.
In 2009 the Belgian city of Ghent became the first in the world to officially encourage citizens to have one meat-free day per week; the result of a successful partnership between the NGO Ethical Vegetarian Alternative and local government. This paper outlines the main principles behind the campaign, which has resulted in around 25% of the population participating at least several times per month. A strong case is made for the role of government in encouraging citizens to benefit the environment, human health and animal welfare by consuming fewer animal products. Regulation, subsidization, taxation and choice architecture are mentioned as some of the methods governments could use to achieve this.
The authors of this study proposed to identify key factors in captive elephant welfare, in order to formulate more appropriate standards and regulations for humane care. People who interact directly with elephants, researchers, veterinarians, zoo administrators, and animal welfare advocates were asked to rate the importance of each care scenario. Respondents agreed on some points and diverged on others, tending to value most highly the components of care with which they were personally most involved. Nevertheless, the authors maintain that integrating diverse viewpoints into the formulation of elephant welfare standards is important.
This paper proposes a method for defining goals and objectives, selecting and implementing mitigation actions, and monitoring feedback within a mathematical model that adjusts for uncertainties created by limited data. Managing wild amphibians on National Park Service lands near Washington, D.C. in the face of difficult to predict impacts from climate change, urbanization, and other human-instigated habitat challenges is presented as a case study of the technique. The authors advocate this proactive approach as preferable to waiting to take action until a significant population decline in a species is noted.
Physical and Behavioral Measures that Predict Cats’ Socialization in an Animal Shelter Environment During a Three Day PeriodSubmitted on Mar 12, 2014 (Original item from 2013) Companion Animals | General Animal Protection | Research Tools and Methods
This article describes the third phase of a three-part study. The research was designed to develop simple and reliable tools to assess the socialization levels of cats within their first 3 days at a shelter. 297 cats with a wide range of socialization levels were held in a shelter-like bank of steel cages. At established intervals, an assessor interacted with the cats in various ways and monitored them for specific indicators. Some key measures were identified to distinguish socialized cats, most effectively over the full three-day period. Further testing is planned to finalize the assessment tool.
Despite the fact that the majority of East Asians are lactose intolerant, and that cows and feed-grains developed elsewhere do poorly in the tropics of south and southeastern Asia, Western corporate investors are doing their best to promote "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations" (CAFOs) to Asian governments as cleaner, faster and cheaper than traditional methods of farming. This policy paper examines the displacement of local economies, environmental impacts, health hazards, and animal welfare concerns raised by the rapid rise of dairy factory farming in Asia, and proposes a number of policy points through which governments may address these issues.
This website shows the results of an online survey of 5,000 people who work with dogs. Respondents viewed photos of 100 dogs, and recorded what breed or breeds they thought the dog was. The dogs had been DNA-tested, and each had 25% of at least one breed in their genetic profile. Responses were counted as accurate if the survey participant identified any breed that was part of the dog's heritage, no matter how small the percentage. Respondents varied widely in their guesses, and accuracy was low for most dogs. Visitors to the website can view the photos, the top survey responses, and the actual DNA profile for each dog.
Gallup conducts an annual survey of 1,000 Americans which includes a question regarding the morality of animal testing. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) looked at the survey results from 2001 through 2013, and found that the number of respondents who feel that animal testing is morally wrong has increased significantly since 2001. The change was most pronounced among women, and people under 30.
Wildlife Warning Signs: Public Assessment of Components, Placement and Designs to Optimise Driver ResponseSubmitted on Mar 04, 2014 (Original item from 2013) General Animal Protection | Research Tools and Methods | Wildlife and Exotics
Road signs are the most common and affordable method of reducing wildlife-auto collisions, but input from drivers is often not sought during the design process, and studies on their effectiveness produce widely variable results between countries. This Australian study conducted an online survey of 134 drivers. They were shown a set of wildlife warning signs and asked to rate how likely they were to respond to each. They were also asked what they perceived the primary message of the sign to be.
The authors tested for the most effective design elements, message content, and sign placement. Design elements included flashing lights, activation by car or animal, positive vs. negative images (springing kangaroo vs. damaged car), and feedback devices such as "your speed." Message elements included focus on animal injury, focus on car damage, focus on especially high risk locations or times, and positive reinforcement (e.g., speed-activated sign flashes "thank you" when speed is reduced). Sign placement included the roadside or the road median. Participants indicated they would be most likely to respond to animal-activated and speed-activated signs.
Due to limitations of funding and schedule, the diversity of study respondents was limited, especially by gender (70% of respondents were female) and by region. All respondents had full color vision. With one exception, only kangaroo (large animal) images were used. Actual response to installed signs was not tested. The authors call for additional research to address these and other limitations so that road signs may be used more intelligently to reduce the adverse effects to wildlife and to humans of vehicle-wildlife collisions.
Guest blogger Ivy Collier discusses the lack of standardization in dog bite reporting in the U.S. The absence of accurate data results in questionable solutions, such as breed-specific legislation (BSL), which receive disproportionate media attention, often at the expense of more effective dog-bite prevention techniques.
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