Wolfensohn, S. 2020. Too cute to kill? The need for objective measurements of quality of life. Animals 10(6), 1054.
The recognition of animal suffering is influenced by cultural and societal prejudices and the cuteness of an animal leads to bias in the way it is treated. It is important to consider the animal’s behaviour and its environment—not just its physical condition—when assessing its quality of life. The Animal Welfare Assessment Grid (AWAG) is a useful tool for this purpose. The AWAG offers an evidence-based tool for continual welfare assessment, using technology where appropriate, such as digital activity recording, to facilitate decision-making and lead to improvements in the animals’ quality of life. It is highly adaptable to any species by assessing the four parameters of physical health, psychological wellbeing, environmental quality, and clinical and management procedural events. The outcome of assessing welfare should be action to improve it. Societal ethics and policy-making lead to legislation balancing the values we hold for different species. Influencing policy development in such matters as animal welfare, ecological conservation, and risks to humans requires a focus on public attitudes to, and understanding of, science, as well as consideration of potential unforeseen consequences of the social/environmental/economic impacts of policies.