What is animal welfare?

Animal welfare is a concept that defines the quality of life of an animal as perceived by the animal itself.

Animal welfare means that a level of well-being is high if the animal is healthy, well-fed, safe, comfortable, free from pain, distress or fear, and can express behaviors that are important for physical and mental balance. Everything is reflected in a set of positive and negative experiences, where we talk about well-being or. animal welfare when there are positive perceptions or feelings more than negative.

At the same time, well-being is also a complex area that touches on the ethical, economic, cultural, social, religious and political aspects of animal care. While science provides information and dissemination of knowledge, it is ethics that speaks to what is acceptable to society for animals.

There have been significant changes in the understanding of animal welfare over the last decade. New scientific findings and advances in the field of animal care enable a significantly better insight into the circumstances that affect the well-being or well-being of animals. From the point of view of the veterinary profession, these are primarily issues related to ensuring optimal health and an environment that allows certain animals to be properly bred and cared for. On the one hand, the traditional boundaries between economic and amateur species are being erased because we have pets such as pigs today, and on the other hand, the range of species of animals bred and bred for social purposes is expanding.

The change in man’s attitude towards animals in the last few decades has also been significantly influenced by the general increased social interest in ethical issues related to man’s attitude towards the environment. When it comes to environmental issues, the focus is on the part that affects the quality of life of living beings and the in-depth understanding that ecosystems also need to be considered in terms of human-animal attitudes. Both wild and wild, as well as those bred or cultivated by man.

The Slovenian public is traditionally in favor of responsible animal treatment. This sympathy is often clearly seen when checking public opinion, the presence of a topic in the media, and last but not least on various social networks.

However, there is a growing gap between the general and professional public due to inadequate interpretation of animal welfare standards. The public is not aware of the (philosophically conditioned) distinction between “animal welfare”, which allows the use of animals for human benefit, but on the condition that animals are spared unnecessary suffering resulting from the restriction of five freedoms and “rights”. animals “, which go much further in animal protection and are often contrary to general social norms, such as e.g. animal ownership, livestock farming, etc. Also, the general public has too little knowledge and understanding of the biology of individual animal species to be able to critically assess when animal welfare is compromised, or even when an animal is suffering and possible animal torture is involved. This misunderstanding regularly fuels debates and quarrels at all levels of Slovenian society, including political discourse.

On the other hand, the systems of breeding, transport and slaughter are intensively adapted to the vigilance and sensitivity of society, the ethics of food production of animal origin already influences decisions or. consumer choice. Of course, vice versa, the consumer also has a significant influence on stakeholders in the food industry in order to respond appropriately to the challenges of ensuring animal welfare.

At EU level, animal welfare is a very topical area that attracts the attention of the public and various European institutions. EU decision-makers have already committed themselves to reforming European legislation, raising welfare standards for livestock, and the EU is entering a new cycle of co-creating new legislative frameworks in the field of animal welfare. It is essential for the design of legislation, which can also be implemented, to be based on scientific knowledge, on the profession and on modern technological achievements.

All this requires from the state also institutional and professional capacity building in the field of animal welfare with the aim of successful implementation of new knowledge in practice. In order to achieve a higher level of animal protection and ensure higher standards of welfare, each stakeholder must take their share of responsibility.

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