Thursday, 11 October 2012
The Ethics of animal training discussed by the RDSVS Student Veterinary Ethics Forum
The question of whether it is ethical to train animals was considered by the RDSVS student veterinary ethics forum at their meeting this week.
The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education’s (JMICAWE) Prof Nat Waran provided an introductory talk in which she highlighted some of the welfare concerns associated with training methods, approaches and equipment as well as some of the potential benefits. At the end of her talk she posed questions about whether there are some species that shouldn’t be trained, how we decide upon acceptable trained behaviours and goals and how training could be regulated.
In the discussion that followed, under the capable chairmanship of third year student, Olivia Nathan, the forum members explored their views on whether it was possible to decide if an animal enjoys being trained, and if so could this be used for deciding whether or not training is acceptable. In addition they considered the interesting question of whether training could be considered as occupational therapy and enriching for captive wild animals with no chance of being released into their natural habitat.
No consensus was reached about whether training in all its forms is ethical, but all agreed that despite the many grey areas, animal training should always adhere to a ‘do no harm’ policy and should only be carried out using humane, high welfare approaches and by ethical trainers with good knowledge of the species normal behaviour and how to properly apply learning theory.