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Animals 2016, 6(9), 58; doi:10.3390/ani6090058

Changes in the Welfare of an Injured Working Farm Dog Assessed Using the Five Domains Model

Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre, Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
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Academic Editor: Clive J. C. Phillips
Received: 12 June 2016 / Revised: 7 August 2016 / Accepted: 14 September 2016 / Published: 21 September 2016
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Simple Summary

The Five Domains Model is now increasingly used to assess the welfare status of a wide range of species in markedly different circumstances. Particular strengths are that the Model facilitates structured, systematic and comprehensive evaluations of animals' negative andpositive mental experiences, the overall balance of which underlies their welfare status or quality of life. Importantly, the Model also clarifies the specific internal and external factors that give rise to those experiences. The welfare evaluation published here is the first to use the most up-to-dateversion of the Model, and stands as a detailed example that may assist others undertaking such welfare evaluations in other species and contexts. Moreover, it is the first such evaluation of acompanion animal. It employs a fictitious scenario involving a working farm dog before, during and after it sustains a serious hind leg injury requiring amputation and its subsequent rehoming as a pet. A wide range of negative and positive experiences are graded, interactions between them are revealed, and the balance between negative and positive states at different stages of the scenario is described. Such Model evaluations can highlight current practices that merit re-evaluation. Moregenerally, when major welfare issues are identified, use of the Model could enhance expert witness participation in related prosecutions by highlighting scientifically supported connections between indicative physical/functional states and behaviours and their associated negative experiences in ill-treated animals. Five Domains Model evaluations can also facilitate quality of life assessments and end-of-life decisions.

Abstract

The present structured, systematic and comprehensive welfare evaluation of an injured working farm dog using the Five Domains Model is of interest in its own right. It is also an example for others wanting to apply the Model to welfare evaluations in different species and contexts. Six stages of a fictitious scenario involving the dog are considered: (1) its on-farm circumstances before one hind leg is injured; (2) its entanglement in barbed wire, cutting it free and transporting it to a veterinary clinic; (3) the initial veterinary examination and overnight stay; (4) amputation of the limb and immediate post-operative recovery; (5) its first four weeks after rehoming to a lifestyle block; and (6) its subsequent life as an amputee and pet. Not all features of the scenario represent average-to-good practice; indeed, some have been selected to indicate poor practice. It is shown how the Model can draw attention to areas of animal welfare concern and, importantly, to how welfare enhancement may be impeded or facilitated. Also illustrated is how the welfare implications of a sequence of events can be traced and evaluated, and, in relation to specific situations, how the degrees of welfare compromise and enhancement may be graded. In addition, the choice of a companion animal, contrasting its welfare status as a working dog and pet, and considering its treatment in a veterinary clinical setting, help to highlight various welfare impacts of some practices. By focussing attention on welfare problems, the Model can guide the implementation of remedies, including ways of promoting positive welfare states. Finally, wider applications of the Five Domains Model are noted: by enabling both negative and positive welfare-relevant experiences to be graded, the Model can be applied to quality of life assessments and end-of-life decisions and, with particular regard to negative experiences, the Model can also help to strengthen expert witness testimony during prosecutions for serious ill treatment of animals. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare assessment; working dog welfare; leg injury; veterinary evaluation; amputation; rehoming as amputee; negative experiences; positive experiences; quality of life animal welfare assessment; working dog welfare; leg injury; veterinary evaluation; amputation; rehoming as amputee; negative experiences; positive experiences; quality of life
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Littlewood, K.E.; Mellor, D.J. Changes in the Welfare of an Injured Working Farm Dog Assessed Using the Five Domains Model. Animals 2016, 6, 58.

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