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AZA shift welfare focus to where it matters

Dr Jake Veasey

Jun 8, 2023

Dr Veasey and Care for the Rare have long advocated that the concept of happiness should be central to animal welfare conceptions and so we are pleased to see AZA adopting that approach!

It's interesting to learn that AZA is shifting to wellbeing from welfare...., but very pleasing to see the introduction of happiness into definitions relating to welfare / wellbeing. Too often welfare definitions are recursive - defined by how we measure welfare rather than what welfare is. The challenge with happiness as a concept has always been our ability to measure it, and a tendency to assume what would make us happy is the same as would make an animal happy, hence why it has not featured in many welfare definitions. However, it is such a powerful sense-check; it would be impossible to object to laws such as proposition 12 on welfare grounds as some eminent organisations have such as the AVMA, when consideration of an animal's happiness is included. My one reservation with this definition is the use of the word "or" which suggests you only need to tick one of these - which if that were happy, would be ok, but its possible to be comfortable and healthy and not be happy / have good welfare / wellbeing.

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