Protocol for expert report on animal welfare in case of companion animal cruelty suspicion
Animal welfare expert reports may support court decisions when animal abuse or maltreatment is suspected. The objective of this work is to adapt animal welfare assessment protocols to identify companion animal abuse. The proposed protocol includes four indicator categories: nutritional, comfort, health and behavioral. To reach the overall conclusion regarding the situation evaluated, the final decisions for each group of indicators, classified as inadequate, regular and adequate, must be integrated into a single result, which will be the final welfare degree. This protocol employs a simple integration method, based on thresholds for inclusion in each of the five animal welfare degrees reported as overall conclusion for the assessment: very low, low, regular, high or very high welfare. Low and very low degrees are considered non-acceptable and are reported as abuse or maltreatment. Regular welfare is considered acceptable if corrective measures are assured. High and very high degrees are considered desirable for animal welfare. The protocol allows differentiation of animal welfare status to better decide whether an animal is under abuse, maltreatment or negligence. We hope that the refinement of the recognition of crimes against animals, especially considering cases where no physical lesion is present, coupled with a standardized protocol will improve perception of animal suffering, facilitate the field work of those involved in this type of investigation, and offer a contribution to the improvement of animal welfare in our society through proper action and crime reduction.
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