Ethical decision-making in innovation for animal welfare

Practical guidance for ethical decision-making in field projects for animal welfare 

New publication to help navigate ethical dilemmas

Are you creating new programs or studies to help dogs and cats? Need help working through the ethical dilemmas and challenges that this creates? We can help! Our new free resource on ethical decision-making for field projects targeting dogs and cats is designed to provide practical guidance that you can use as you design, implement, and review your program or projects.

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We would love to hear your feedback! E-mail us here. Please note we are very interested in help distributing this resource to a variety of relevant networks and connecting with partners with interest in customizing or expanding on this work.

Here's what experts are saying about the guidance document -

Kate Atema, Director, Community Engagement, International Fund for Animal Welfare (ifaw), and Chair, International Companion Animal Management (ICAM) Coalition:

“As animal welfare initiatives have moved outside shelter walls and into increasingly direct interaction with the communities we serve, we have come to realize that animal welfare is not only an animal service, but a social service. Animal welfare workers therefore find themselves faced with the kind of challenges social welfare agencies have for decades – but without the explicit training and preparation needed to help cope with the everyday dilemmas of weighing the impacts of the work we do on the communities we serve. ACC&D’s Ethical Guidance tool helps to bridge this gap by explicitly acknowledging the many unexpected challenges animal welfare teams may face in terms of providing the best support for animals, their guardians and their communities, and providing well-researched tools to help navigate these ethically challenging waters. The ACC&D Ethical Guidance tool is a much-needed resource for animal welfare groups who are driven to innovate, while ensuring maximum benefits for animals and the people who love them.”

Peter Sandøe, Professor of Bioethics and Director, Danish Centre for the Study of Companion Animal Welfare:  

 "Those involved in research, testing or innovation aimed at improving the welfare of feral, unowned or community owned cats, dogs or other domestic animals have until now often had to operate in an ethical no man’s land. With this new guide from ACC&D, these people will finally get some much-needed guidance on how to proceed in a way that is in line with standards of research ethics that take into consideration of both animal welfare and respect for people. I believe the guide will set new standards for the field to the benefit of both the affected animals and the humans who care about them."

Emma Clifford, Founder & CEO, Animal Balance:

“A standard ethical guide is an essential tool for NGOs like ours who are constantly looking for innovative ways to humanely reduce cat and dog populations quickly and safely. When we are presented with a potential new tool, we can use this guide to ensure that we have carefully reviewed every ethical angle, for the animal (target and non-target), guardian, researcher, community, environment, relevant authorities and our own NGO. If we can reduce or eliminate any risk factors, we must. ACC&D's ethical guide gives us the road-map to do that.”

Dr. Penny Hawkins, Head of Research Animals Department, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, UK:

"Although this toolkit is aimed at decision making for field projects involving cats and dogs, we would strongly recommend it as guidance wherever decisions have to be made about how humans interact with nonhuman animals, and whether, and how, animals ought to be used and treated. The principles it describes are particularly relevant to the use of animals in scientific procedures, in laboratories and the field, providing a much broader view of ethics than the routine harm-benefit assessment used to assess the justification for animal use. As such, it widens the readers 'ethical horizons', encouraging them to identify and consider a far wider range of issues, stakeholders and communities (human and animal) that can be involved in, or affected by, any research project. The toolkit provides practical advice for any organisation starting to develop ethical review in a scientific field, as well as providing additional guidance for existing ethical review bodies or their equivalent around the world. It is well presented, and an interesting read, so is also strongly recommended as a much-needed ethics training resource."

© 2019 Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs.  This download is a free publication of Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs.  This publication may be reproduced in whole or in part for scholarly and professional purposes provided that no fee for the use or possession of such copies is charged to the ultimate consumer of the copies and proper citation is given to Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs.

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Thank you to the William and Charlotte Parks Foundation for providing financial support to develop this resource!  And thank you to the following individuals who wrote portions of the guidance document and toolkits:

  • Kate Atema, Program Director, Community Engagement, International Fund for Animal Welfare, U.S.
  • Valerie Benka, Program Director, Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs, U.S.
  • Susan Getty, formerly Project Manager, Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs, U.S.
  • Dr. Elly Hiby, ICAM Coalition Scientific Coordinator; Independent Animal Welfare Consultant, England
  • Dr. Maggy Jennings OBE, retired Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Research Animals Department, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), England
  • Dr. Carla Forte Maiolino Molento, LABEA - Laboratório de Bem-estar Animal, Professora de Comportamento e Bem-estar Animal, Departamento de Zootecnia, Setor de Ciências Agrárias, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba - Paraná, Brazil
  • Dr. Peter Sandøe, Professor of Bioethics (Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Department of Food and Resource Economics), University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Dr. James Serpell, Marie A. Moore Professor of Animal Ethics & Welfare, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine; Director, Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, U.S.
  • Dr. Lou Tasker, Independent Researcher and Consultant, Animal Welfare, England