Mariti, C., Pirrone, F., Albertini, M. et al. 2018. Familiarity and interest in working with livestock decreases the odds of having positive attitudes towards non-human animals and their welfare among veterinary students in Italy. Animals 8(9), 150.
We investigated the attitudes of veterinary students towards animals and their welfare in Italy. Regression analyses revealed predictors that are significant in differentiating students’ scoring tendency based on their gender, familiarity, and intention to work with a specific animal species, type of diet, and membership in an animal rights association. Female students, who were mostly familiar with pets and aspired to work with species other than livestock, following an animal-free diet and being a member of an animal rights association, had a significantly greater odds of having a high Animal Attitude Scale score (AAS), i.e., very positive attitude towards animals, versus a less positive attitude. Conversely, the familiarity with livestock and preference for working with livestock significantly increased the odds of a low AAS. Overall, students considered all of the Brambell Report’s Five Freedoms important for animal welfare protection. However, students scored higher for companion animals than for livestock, particularly regarding the freedom to express normal behaviour and the absence of fear and distress. This study suggests that veterinary students place less importance on the psychological aspects of welfare for livestock, and there is a tendency for students who are mostly familiar, or aspire to work, with livestock to have a less positive attitude towards non-human animals and their welfare. These findings should be considered within the veterinary educational curriculum due to their potential impact on animal welfare.