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22/08/18 Information
The concept of Animal Welfare (A’ALDA CEO Masamichi Okuda)

※This article is also available as a podcast on Spotify , Apple Podcasts , Google Podcast , Amazon Music and Anchor (Japanese ONLY).

I believe that all pet owners need to know the concept of “Animal Welfare” for humans and animals to live happily together.

In Japan, many media like newspaper and TV reported more widely “no-slaughter” than animal welfare. As a result, most Japanese realized the issue of slaughtered pets. In addition, prefectural governors have also taken up the problem, and many municipalities have announced “no-slaughter” policies for dogs and cats.

According to statistical data released by the Ministry of the Environment, the number of dogs and cats slaughtered yearly decreases. Although not shown in the graph, considering that the number of cats and dogs slaughtered in 1974 was 1,220,000, we can say that the number of cats and dogs slaughtered has decreased significantly over the past 40 years. However, the number of dogs and cats still remains close to 25,000 per year at public health centers alone, so further improvement is still needed.

Source: 犬・猫の引取り及び負傷動物等の収容並びに処分の状況(環境省統計資料) (Japanese Only)

Within animal welfare, there is a philosophy called The Five Freedoms for Animals. The Five Freedoms were first proposed in the UK in the 1960s as a philosophy of animal welfare for farmed animals, and are now internationally recognized as an indicator of the welfare of not only farmed animals, but also pets, laboratory animals, and all other animals in human care. The five specific freedoms are as follows.

1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst.
2. Freedom from Discomfort
3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease
4. Freedom to behave normally
5. Freedom from Fear and Distress

Source: Five freedoms – Wikipedia

These five freedoms indicate that animal welfare cannot be guaranteed by animal life and death alone. It is quite worrisome that the current state of affairs is such that only the phrase “no-slaughter” has been used to permeate Japan, and the concept of animal welfare has been left behind.

For example, we suppos that an animal is bedridden, unable to eat, and in physical and mental pain. In that case, we have to judge that animal welfare cannot be guaranteed because the above five freedoms are not fulfilled. In such a case, if treatment cannot be expected, a Western veterinarian would not hesitate to euthanize the animal. I think it is also common in Europe and the United States to believe that euthanasia must be done promptly to ensure animal welfare.

Of course, cultures and religious views differ greatly between Europe and Japan, and there are differences in the way we think about euthanasia. However, it can be said that “slaughter (euthanasia) = bad” without taking into consideration the condition of each animal is a simplistic view that does not fully consider animal welfare.

Of course, it is much better not to euthanizing or slaughtering animals. However, if the animal get serious injury which there is no hope of a cure, if the animal continues to suffer due to internal organ damage or malignant tumor, or if a senior individual is bedridden due to dementia, I believe that euthanasia would be done without hesitation in Europe and the United States. Unfortunately, if the prognosis is terrible, no matter how much effort is made, the animal continues to suffer and the five freedoms cannot be fulfilled. What kind of decisions do we make or should we make when we are in that case? We need to have more serious discussions about animals without stopping to think.

There is diversity in the various arguments and rationales in discussing this kind of relationship between animals and people. The following quotations are from the book “Animal Policy in Japan” regarding animal rights, animal liberation, and animal protection, which are often mixed up with animal welfare.

Animal rights theory is an argument that positions animals as subjects of rights, like humans, rather than objects of human rights, and denies all uses of animals by humans. Specifically, it advocates the abolition of meat eating and animal experimentation, and condemns the keeping of animals as pets and the exhibition of animals in zoos as egoistic use of animals for human beings.

The theory of animal welfare starts with the acceptance of the reality that humans use animals and the belief that animals, like humans, can feel pain. It then holds that animal suffering deserves the same consideration as human suffering, and that as long as animals are alive, suffering that is not reasonably necessary should be eliminated to the maximum extent possible. In addition to eliminating physical pain, we also try to respect the animal’s natural habits and abilities to wipe out mental pain.

Involved in both of these arguments is the animal liberation theory. Animal liberation theory holds that there is no rational reason to discriminate between the treatment of humans and animals in the first place. This theory is grounded in both welfare theory and rights theory. From the perspective of rights theory, rights granted to humans are also granted to animals. From the viewpoint of the welfare theory, the rights granted to humans should also be granted to animals. Whichever side of the argument one takes, meat eating and animal experimentation involving killing and pain are unacceptable, and we appeal for the elimination of the idea of “species discrimination,” which considers the treatment of humans and animals separately.

Finally, animal protection theory is an emotional argument that endorses the love of animals, prevents the mistreatment of animals, and seeks to protect the lives and well-being of animals with care. It is said to have its roots in the anti-animal cruelty movement started by the upper classes in 19th century England in response to criticism of the rough treatment of horses and dogs by the lower classes. In Japan, however, with pets living in many households in recent years, there is growing sympathy for treating animals as members of the family and treating them with care and affection. Animal protection is often defined as such an emotional argument. In Japan, there is a strong tendency to show affection for animals (or, as far as they can imagine, to feel sorry for animals that are sacrificed) because of a sense of aversion to ending animal life in a civilization that prohibits the killing of animals.

Source: 日本の動物政策(Japanese Only)

As noted above, I feel that the relationship between humans and animals is often discussed in Japan by animal protection arguments starting with “zero slaughter.”

While animal welfare is an animal-centered approach, the subject of animal protection theory is humans. Animal welfare has an international common thought to ensure the “five freedoms” for all animals, while animal protection is an act by humans toward animals, indicating their affection activities.

Since animal protection is an individual emotional argument that is completely different depending on country, race, individual, experience, religion, etc., it tends to be difficult to develop into a discussion that considers the overall optimum regarding humans and animals.

We believe that the fundamental feeling of those who are committed to the issue of protecting and slaughtering dogs and cats is that we are all aiming for the same goal. Without losing sight of the common goal of “Happiness for humans and pets,” I believe that we can create a better environment by cooperating with all stakeholders, including shelter groups, government, private companies, and volunteers.

As a private company, we at A’ALDA would like to contribute to the sustainable resolution of the problem of dogs and cats. We will start with what we can do.


Purpose:

・Pet to Partner – From member of family to member of society.

Vision:

・To create the most innovative Animal Health Tech Company.

Mission:

・Think As One, Treat As One.

Our ambition is to create a world
where human and pets live with each other,
help each other, love each other, and trust each other.
We strive to bring happiness to both human and pets with our truehearted passion and through the cutting-edge veterinary technology from all around the world.

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