Animals and Society, Uncategorized

A Call for the Worldwide Ban of Feline Declawing

The act of scratching is a natural feline behaviour. Not only does It condition the claws to provide defense from attack, but it also acts as both a visual and as a scent marker of territory (Landsberg, 1991). However, excessive scratching on surfaces or objects can become hugely undesirable in the home and many cats run the risk of relinquishment, euthanasia or both if the behaviour continues long-term. One alternative that has garnered popularity in some parts of the world, is a surgical procedure called Onychectomy – also known as ‘declawing’ (AVMA, 2016).

Declawing is usually an elective procedure in which all or a part of a cat’s toe bones and the attached claws are surgically removed (Kogan et al, 2016). As it is a surgical procedure that carries with it several negative welfare impacts and important ethical considerations, the procedure is banned in some countries around the world, and while the UK and most of Europe appear on that list, the USA and Canada do not (Birdsall, 2018). Although the welfare impacts are widely known, and alternative methods are available to those who look, it has been estimated that approximately 24.4% of owned cats in the US are declawed (Kogan et al, 2016) though this statistic varies between reports (Lockhart et al, 2014).

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Many view declawing as an act of mutilation Continue reading

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Animals and Society, Uncategorized

Animal Welfare Labels: End The Confusion!

  ‘Red Tractor’, ‘Freedom Foods’, ‘Organic’…. all terms we’ve heard before. All welfare assurance labels. All designed to inform us about where our food comes from and how it was produced without having to spend too long scouring the small-print on the packet. But is it really that simple? The numerous different labels, codes and schemes standing for varying levels of welfare make it easy to forget, and sometimes even be completely wrong about what each of these labels actually mean.

  First, you need to decipher which labels actually include high welfare in their definitions. This is easier said than done. Many labels say ‘locally sourced’ or ‘farm fresh’, but none of these bear any indication to animal welfare standards. Only quality assurance labels are designed with welfare in mind. But the confusion doesn’t end there – how are we to know the levels of animal welfare standards by looking at a logo on a packet. Clearly, the schemes need to distribute more information to us, the consumers, about what each of their labels stand for. This can be achieved through many different strategies such as leaflets/ posters in local supermarkets, or a re-brand of the label itself to emphasise exactly what it stands for.

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  So, what really differs between welfare labels? Continue reading

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