The Modern Equine Vet
January 2024
Vol 14 Issue 1 2024
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News Notes

Feelings About Emotions Equal Better Welfare

Working equids whose owners believe in their capacity to feel emotion have significantly better health and welfare outcomes than those whose owners do not, according to research by the University of Portsmouth and The Donkey Sanctuary, in the Isle of Wright (J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2023;1 doi: 10.1080/10888705.2023.2228029

Researchers visited equid-owning communities in Egypt, Mexico, Pakistan, Senegal, Spain and Portugal, where they carried out welfare assessments, which included a questionnaire about owner’s beliefs, values and attitudes toward their animals; and a detailed assessment of the equids’ welfare.

Animals whose owners believed they felt emotions or who had an emotional bond with them, were in better health and had higher body condition scores than those whose owners did not, or who focused on how profitable or useful they were. Similarly, animals whose owners believed they could feel pain were much less likely to be lame.

These relationships were evident across multiple countries, with varying economic incomes.

“Our findings highlight the importance of the relationship between owners and their animals, and its significant impact on animal health and welfare,” said Emily Haddy, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Portsmouth’s Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology. MeV