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ICAWC 2015 - Canine welfare assessment for TNR programs - Heather Bacon


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Heather will illustrate a pilot welfare assessment protocol which has been trialed and refined at two existing TNR programmes. The authors have identified gaps in current understanding and interpretation of dog behaviours, highlighting the need for a solid understanding of canine behavioural communication.

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ICAWC 2015 - Canine welfare assessment for TNR programs - Heather Bacon

  1. 1. Development of a robust canine welfare assessment for dogs in trap-neuter-return programmes Heather J. Bacon BSc (Hons) BVSc CertZooMed MRCVS H Walters, V. Vancia and N. Waran. Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education University of Edinburgh
  3. 3. • Trap- neuter- return (TNR) is recognised by animal welfare charities, academics and the OIE as an essential tool in the control of dog populations, zoonoses and human-dog conflicts. • The ubiquitous nature of TNR, it’s application by leading animal welfarists, and the poor welfare implications of alternative dog population control measures, all contribute to the perception of TNR as a positive welfare intervention. • Individual dog welfare may be poor due to the variety of techniques used in TNR projects and the combined with the focus on population control
  4. 4. What is Animal welfare? • Welfare is a spectrum and may range from good to poor • An animal’s welfare depend’s on it’s ability to cope • Welfare is impacted by the choices we make, but is not what we ‘think’
  5. 5. Welfare and Ethics Ethics – Is about what WE think about the animal’s situation based on our own Morals/Viewpoints Welfare –Is about the subjective experience of the Animal What is its quality of life?
  6. 6. Welfare is about the experience of the individual
  7. 7. Are good intentions enough? Can we do better? Please click the following link to view the video Please click the following link to view the video
  9. 9. • This pilot project aims to produce a reliable, robust and practical audit or checklist that can be used to measure individual dog welfare in a range of TNR programmes. • This will improve dog welfare because if we can measure problems occurring, we can take steps to prevent those problems.
  10. 10. What we can measure, we can manage Please click the following link to view the video
  11. 11. Aims: • In this project we identified potential hazards to animal welfare and critical control points where those hazards could be mitigated. • Dogs Trust canine welfare grant research project – Robust approach – Practical application – Result in a user-friendly ‘Checklist’ that allows dog welfare to be measured
  12. 12. Step 1: • A literature review revised the current behavioural and physiological indicators of welfare in dogs and other species, with a particular focus on work done in kennelled dogs and dogs in population management programmes. • The review focussed on the different stages of TNR Capture Cage/holding Peri- Operative Post- Operative Release
  13. 13. Identify potential welfare hazards • Expert stakeholders were consulted to suggest additional welfare indicators based on their experience. • All welfare indicators were also assessed by the stakeholders for their perceived practicality, economy, and reliability
  14. 14. • Expert stakeholders were then asked to score each of the indicators (from lit review and stakeholders) as ‘mild’ moderate’ or ‘severe’ in terms of welfare challenge – Mild = short-term or minor physical or mental welfare compromise with which the dog can cope and adapt – Moderate = A welfare compromise which is likely to cause behavioural or mental distress or physical pain or injury, but which does not result in longterm effects – Severe = A level of welfare compromise which is likely to cause longterm physical discomfort/impairment or ongoing mental/behavioural distress, or affect the dog’s survivability
  15. 15. Field test 1 • TNR Project 1 – In the 5 day trial, 12 dogs were followed throughout the entire process of a well established TNR programme, with an additional 14 dogs observed for parts of the TNR process. – Each indicator in the list was applied to the dogs in the TNR process where practically and financially possible
  16. 16. Animal-based Vs Resource-based indicators Animal-based Resource-based Pain behaviour Provision of analgesia Injury due to capture/handling Water Vocalisation under anaesthesia Bedding material Aggression to handler Use of capture equipment • Animals based indicators are usually more accurate and representative of the animal’s welfare state but may require training of assessors • Resource based indicators are easier to evaluate but often less accurate at representing the animal’s welfare state
  17. 17. Are behavioural indicators practical in the field? Animal-based indicators: Pain • Can we reliably identify pain? Animal-based indicators: behavioural change • Can we reliably identify different dog behaviours and or welfare states? • Some confusion noted especially re: pain assessment
  18. 18. Experiment: Can we reliably evaluate dog behaviour? Fleiss’ kappa Interpretation < 0 Poor agreement 0.01 – 0.20Slight agreement 0.21 – 0.40Fair agreement 0.41 – 0.60Moderate agreement 0.61 – 0.80Substantial agreement 0.81 – 1.00 Almost perfect agreement Please click the following link to view the video
  19. 19. Experiment: Can we reliably evaluate dog behaviour? Please click the following link to view the video
  20. 20. Trial of behaviour recognition 1. UK vets and shelter staff Characteristic Kappa value against standard P Value Agreement Capture 0.348 0.00 Fair Handling 0.455 0.00 Moderate Demeanour (positive/ negative) 0.727 0.00 Substantial Pain 0.444 0.00 Moderate 2. Staff experienced in TNR Characteristic Kappa value against standard P Agreement Capture and handling 0.676 0.00 Substantial Demeanour (positive or negative) 0.568 0.00 Moderate Pain 0.008 0.47 Slight
  21. 21. • Selected behavioural indicators including pain were maintained in the checklist, but the need for training in this area was identified • Training in recognising specific behaviours is important, even if the observer is experienced • Checklist refined
  22. 22. Checklist Verification - Second Field test • the checklist was verified at a second TNR project, with a different capture technique, veterinary capacity and return approach, to ensure its flexibility across different programmatic structures. • To verify the checklist 53 dogs were followed from capture through to release and 88 additional dogs were evaluated during different sections of the TNR programme. • Three observers followed dogs for five days, observing all stages of the TNR programme and a range of different methods employed for catching
  23. 23. RESULTS
  24. 24. Checklist example
  25. 25. Critical control points: Issues identified • Both TNR projects generally had great approaches to dog capture and handling and focussed staff training here • Analgesia was provided and qualified vets used but still problems occurred: – Aseptic technique (up to 100% breaches in sterility observed) – Pain recognition and management, despite provision of analgesia (up to 60% of dogs observed in moderate-severe pain post-op) – Anaesthetic control (up to 22% of dogs observed showed signs of conciousness during surgery) – Resource provision – post-operative water ( 48%) – Lack of individual dog assessment prior to release (less than 20% of dogs observed were assessed)
  27. 27. Training and education • Big difference in skills and techniques between vets of different countries • Further training of qualified vets may be necessary – Anaesthesia and analgesia are often overlooked • Training in pain recognition and management • Aim for population control AND good welfare
  28. 28. Please click the following link to view the video
  29. 29. Welfare is individual Please click the following link to view the video
  30. 30. Summary Please click the following link to view the video
  31. 31. Thanks to all of the organisations who collaborated on this project Any questions?