Animal welfare


Animal welfare should be understood as a whole health, both physical and mental, in which the animal can efficiently cope with its environment (Hughes, 1976). An animal is therefore in a good state of welfare if is healthy, well fed and provided with adequate shelter, and able to express their behavioral inner traits.


The IZSAM mission in this area is to provide high operational value on a global scale solutions by offering practical and innovative scientifically based solutions, to improve animal health and quality of life.


In February 2004 the OIE organized in Paris the first International Conference on Animal Welfare, with the participation of over 400 delegates from all over the world. Later, the OIE established three Collaborating Centers on Animal Welfare in the world, one of which at the IZSAM (within the OIE Collaborating Centre on Veterinary Training, Epidemiology, Food Safety and Animal Welfare) . By mandate from the World Trade Organization (WTO), the OIE sets standards that regulate trade between member countries, entrusting the drafting groups of experts representing geographical areas. Since 2005, the OIE has also started to develop welfare standards and the Institute has contributed to the drafting of the dog population control and management requirements and the epidemic and non-epidemic emergency management inside the ad-hoc working groups. From 2013, the OIE has launched a European Platform on Animal Welfare, with the aim of improving the harmonization of the application of standards, particularly those inherent to transport, slaughter and the control of stray dogs, among countries of the Region. An IZSAM expert seat inside of the platform steering group, and a large group of experts from the Institute is involved in supporting its initiatives.

Animal welfare is a highly topical issue in the European Union, where the consumer interest in the living conditions, transport and slaughter of livestock is growing steadily. The most recent strategy of the European Commission on animal welfare (2012-2015), also emphasized the importance of identifying the "animal-based" welfare indicators which would allow a greater harmonization of animal welfare assessment at global scale, also enabling the achievement of equivalence criteria on animal welfare between the EU and non-member countries in the context of global trade. This approach has been embraced by IZSAM, which in recent years has undertaken, within the framework of national and international projects, activities aimed at identifying methods of measuring "animal-based” welfare indicators" and the development of innovative protocols for welfare evaluation that allow accurate and more rapid assessment, both during transport or other contained conditions.


A renewed interest has arisen in recent years, both at national and international level, also on the welfare of pet animals (especially stray dogs), which since a decade is the subject of high-profile researches within the Institute. Among them, there is the development of an evaluation protocol of welfare of dog housed in shelter facilities (Shelter Quality) and the participation to the first European study on the welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices (supported by Directorate General for Health and Food Safety-European Commission).


The recent entry into force of EC Regulation 1099/2009, on the protection of animals at slaughter, required the complying of slaughterhouse to animal welfare structural and managerial standard both in the member States and in non-member states that are engaged in export of meat products to the EU. The Institute, due to the relevant experience achieved in this area, can provide the technical and scientific support to States that ask for support, as documented by the growing IZSAM commitment in twinning projects on animal welfare.


In addition to the strong presence on the national and international scene as part of research projects on Animal Welfare, the Institute is at the forefront of training on Animal Welfare, having been the first subject that managed since 2007, the training courses promoted by the European Commission under the “Better Training for Safer Food" for the diffusion of the necessary skills on animal welfare standards during transport, stunning and slaughter and in case of stamping out for disease control.


The animal welfare activities are performed by the staff of Human-Animal Relationship and Animal Welfare Laboratory, which is related to the OIE Collaborating Centre on Veterinary Training, Epidemiology, Food Safety and Animal Welfare dell'IZSAM, based in Via Nazionale SS 16, 64025 Torre di Cerrano – Pineto (TE), Italy


Head Laboratory: Dr. Paolo Dalla Villa




© IZSAM November 2018

Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale

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