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Ranking canine welfare issues using expert opinion

E. L. Buckland, S. A. Corr. S. M. Abeyesinghe, C. M. Wathes

PRIORITIES in animal welfare are generally determined on the basis of the severity and duration of suffering and how many animals are affected. This study aimed to assess the most pressing welfare issues for companion dogs using expert consensus.

Potential companion dog welfare issues were identified using a literature review and an anonymous online survey. A list of 37 welfare issues was then compiled. Seven expert panellists from a range of disciplines including welfare science, genetics, ethics and veterinary nursing were invited to take part in a workshop. An expert in welfare legislation and government policy was also appointed to advise the panel. One month before the workshop, the panellists were asked to rank the 37 welfare issues in order of importance. This was used as a starting point for discussion. Individuals were nominated to lead discussions on different welfare issues. Following group discussion, the significance of each welfare problem (a product of the proportion of dogs affected, the duration of experience, the severity of the experience and any counterbalancing benefits) and its strategic priority (a product of the significance of the welfare …

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