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Animals 2018, 8(9), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8090150

Familiarity and Interest in Working with Livestock Decreases the Odds of Having Positive Attitudes towards Non-Human Animals and Their Welfare among Veterinary Students in Italy

1
Dipartimento di Scienze Veterinarie, Università di Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
2
Dipartimento di Medicina Veterinaria, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy
3
Dipartimento di Medicina Veterinaria, Università degli Studi di Perugia, 06126 Perugia, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 July 2018 / Revised: 17 August 2018 / Accepted: 20 August 2018 / Published: 22 August 2018
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Simple Summary

Veterinary students are the future generation of veterinary practitioners. Therefore, their attitudes towards non-human animals and animal welfare have a substantial impact on animal welfare itself. This study investigated the attitudes of veterinary students in Italy. The findings suggest that factors such as female gender, familiarity with pets, or the intention to work with pet species, as well as an animal-free diet, and membership in an animal rights association are the predictors of a very positive attitude towards animals and their welfare. Familiarity and intention to work with livestock is instead associated with a less positive attitude. Students also considered the freedom to express normal behaviours and the freedom from fear and distress to be less important for livestock than for pets. Veterinary curricula should take these findings into account to improve the attitudes of students in order to improve animal welfare, especially the welfare of livestock.

Abstract

We investigated the attitudes of veterinary students towards animals and their welfare in Italy. Regression analyses revealed predictors that are significant in differentiating students’ scoring tendency based on their gender, familiarity, and intention to work with a specific animal species, type of diet, and membership in an animal rights association. Female students, who were mostly familiar with pets and aspired to work with species other than livestock, following an animal-free diet and being a member of an animal rights association, had a significantly greater odds of having a high Animal Attitude Scale score (AAS), i.e., very positive attitude towards animals, versus a less positive attitude. Conversely, the familiarity with livestock and preference for working with livestock significantly increased the odds of a low AAS. Overall, students considered all of the Brambell Report’s Five Freedoms important for animal welfare protection. However, students scored higher for companion animals than for livestock, particularly regarding the freedom to express normal behaviour and the absence of fear and distress. This study suggests that veterinary students place less importance on the psychological aspects of welfare for livestock, and there is a tendency for students who are mostly familiar, or aspire to work, with livestock to have a less positive attitude towards non-human animals and their welfare. These findings should be considered within the veterinary educational curriculum due to their potential impact on animal welfare. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal attitude scale; animal welfare; attitude towards animals; livestock; pets; veterinary students animal attitude scale; animal welfare; attitude towards animals; livestock; pets; veterinary students
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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Mariti, C.; Pirrone, F.; Albertini, M.; Gazzano, A.; Diverio, S. Familiarity and Interest in Working with Livestock Decreases the Odds of Having Positive Attitudes towards Non-Human Animals and Their Welfare among Veterinary Students in Italy. Animals 2018, 8, 150.

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