Determining Animals Quality of Life: Veterinary Criteria and Assessment

Author(s): Michael W Fox

There are ethical inconsistencies in the treatment of animals which are accepted on the basis of various cultural, religious and economic ideologies and values rather than on a scientific, biological and ethological understanding of animal sentience and the conditions and care required to provide them with a life worth living. Such consideration is a moral imperative regardless of custom and pecuniary interests. This calls for a full accounting in terms of costs to the animals and the environment and risks and benefits to humans/society and our duty to provide the best of care within the context of their utility. Quality of life (QOL) assessments can provide a sound basis for implementing animal welfare standards and reforms, especially in the treatment of farmed and laboratory animals and those used in entertainment and for draft work in particular. When welfare improvements are not implemented, QOL determinations can provide a legal and ethical impetus for the adoption of non-animal alternatives and for the establishment of more effective animal welfare and protection laws and appropriate amendments to existing codes and statutes.

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