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Open AccessArticle

Development of a Robust Canine Welfare Assessment Protocol for Use in Dog (Canis Familiaris) Catch-Neuter-Return (CNR) Programmes

Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH25 9RG, UK
The Romanian Society for Anthrozoology, Cluj 400372, Romania
Faculty of Education, Humanities and Health Sciences, Eastern Institute of Technology, 501 Gloucester St, Taradale, Napier 4112, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(8), 564;
Received: 2 July 2019 / Revised: 8 August 2019 / Accepted: 12 August 2019 / Published: 16 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare Assessment Protocol)
This paper describes the development of a robust composite welfare assessment tool to evaluate the welfare of free-roaming dogs passing through surgical sterilisation or catch-neuter-return (CNR) programmes. Catch-Neuter-Return programmes are frequently employed by governments and animal welfare charities to control the rising population of free-roaming dogs. Due to the focus on dog population control, individual dog welfare may be compromised through the CNR process, which comprises necessary stressors and harms, including capture, transport, surgery, and social disruption. Using a combination of a modified Delphi analysis and a Hazard Identification and a Critical Control Point analysis, this project described potential hazards to dog welfare during the CNR process and identified critical points where dog welfare could be assessed, and mitigations put in place to improve dog welfare throughout the CNR process. This project resulted in the development of a composite dog welfare assessment tool that will allow the robust assessment of the welfare of free-roaming dogs in CNR programmes and allow CNR projects to benchmark and mitigate hazards to dog welfare.
The aim of this study was to develop a welfare assessment tool based on objective, reliable and relevant measures to be applied to individual dogs as they underwent a Catch-Neuter-Return (CNR) programme. A modified Delphi method and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) approach was used to develop the composite canine welfare assessment protocol, comprising both animal-based and resource-based measures. This draft welfare assessment protocol was then trialed and refined in existing CNR programmes to identify key control points where individual dog welfare may be moderately or significantly compromised in the CNR process. The results show that animal-based welfare indicators, e.g., pain behaviours, which provide a more direct indication of an animal’s welfare state, require training and skill to recognise, whilst resource-based indicators are simple to measure but act only as indirect measures of welfare. We concluded that whilst CNR projects can potentially improve the health and welfare of free-roaming dogs in the long-term, the risk of short-term welfare harms during the CNR process is high. Thus, it is essential for staff involved in dog population management programmes to assess the welfare state of dogs in CNR and take remedial action to safeguard individual dog welfare. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; assessment; canis familiaris; dog; catch-neuter-return; CNR; Trap-neuter-return animal welfare; assessment; canis familiaris; dog; catch-neuter-return; CNR; Trap-neuter-return
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Bacon, H.; Walters, H.; Vancia, V.; Connelly, L.; Waran, N. Development of a Robust Canine Welfare Assessment Protocol for Use in Dog (Canis Familiaris) Catch-Neuter-Return (CNR) Programmes. Animals 2019, 9, 564.

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