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Journal: Journal of applied animal welfare science : JAAWS


Annually in Japanese waters, small cetaceans are killed in “drive hunts” with quotas set by the government of Japan. The Taiji Fishing Cooperative in Japan has published the details of a new killing method that involves cutting (transecting) the spinal cord and purports to reduce time to death. The method involves the repeated insertion of a metal rod followed by the plugging of the wound to prevent blood loss into the water. To date, a paucity of data exists regarding these methods utilized in the drive hunts. Our veterinary and behavioral analysis of video documentation of this method indicates that it does not immediately lead to death and that the time to death data provided in the description of the method, based on termination of breathing and movement, is not supported by the available video data. The method employed causes damage to the vertebral blood vessels and the vascular rete from insertion of the rod that will lead to significant hemorrhage, but this alone would not produce a rapid death in a large mammal of this type. The method induces paraplegia (paralysis of the body) and death through trauma and gradual blood loss. This killing method does not conform to the recognized requirement for “immediate insensibility” and would not be tolerated or permitted in any regulated slaughterhouse process in the developed world.

Concepts: Spinal cord, Blood, Blood vessel, Developed country, Bleeding, Japan, Dolphin, Government of Japan


It is sometimes necessary for nonhuman primates to be restrained during biomedical and psychosocial research. Such restraint is often accomplished using a “primate chair.” This article details a method for training adult rhesus macaques to cooperate with a chair restraint procedure using positive and negative reinforcement. Successful training was accomplished rapidly in approximately 14 training days. The success of this training technique suggests that this method represents a refinement to traditional techniques. Further, this method worked effectively for animals previously deemed unfit for traditional pole-and-collar training.

Concepts: Mammal, Macaque, Primate, Rhesus Macaque, Old World monkey, Barbary Macaque, Cercopithecinae, Systema Naturae


Research on the adoption and relinquishment of horses, both domestic and wild, remains limited. As a result, little is known about adopters, their adopted horses, and their adoption experience. This study surveyed and interviewed 17 adopters of Colonial Spanish mustangs through the Corolla Wild Horse Fund (CWHF). Together, they adopted 22 horses of varying ages and genders from 2002 to 2012. The participants, who had a range of previous experience with and knowledge of horses, were generally very satisfied with their horses and their adoption experience. Being able to adopt a gentled/trained mustang and receiving support from the CWHF during the adoption process played key roles in adoption success. Additionally, participants' strong desire to preserve a perceived endangered species or national treasure appeared to be a major reason for adopting a Colonial Spanish mustang and served as motivation for making the adoption successful. The results of the study provide insights into ways to improve the number and success of adoptions through other equine programs, especially the Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse and burro program.

Concepts: Adoption, Horse, Wild horse, Feral horse, Przewalski's Horse, Mustang, Spanish Mustang, Colonial Spanish Horse


The authors explored a possible relationship between coat color and aggressive behaviors in the domestic cat. This study used an Internet-based survey to collect information on coat color, affiliative behaviors toward cats/humans, agonistic behaviors toward cats/humans, other “problem” behaviors, and cat and guardian demographic data. A total of 1,432 cat guardians completed the online survey; after exclusions based on study protocol, data analysis included 1,274 completed surveys. Guardians reported sex-linked orange female (tortoiseshells, calicos, and “torbies”), black-and-white, and gray-and-white cats to be more frequently aggressive toward humans in 3 settings: during everyday interactions, during handling, and during veterinary visits. Kruskal-Wallis 1-way analysis of variance was used to compare possible differences between the 2 sexes and among different coat colors. Analyses of aggression due to handling, as well as aggression displayed during veterinarian visits, showed little difference among coat colors in these settings.

Concepts: Color, Aggression, Violence, Analysis of variance, Cat, Toxoplasmosis, Coat, Tortoiseshell cat


The authors formally investigated a major international wildlife wholesaler and subsequently confiscated more than 26,400 nonhuman animals of 171 species and types. Approximately 80% of the nonhuman animals were identified as grossly sick, injured, or dead, with the remaining in suspected suboptimal condition. Almost 3,500 deceased or moribund animals (12% of stock), mostly reptiles, were being discarded on a weekly basis. Mortality during the 6-week “stock turnover” period was determined to be 72%. During a 10-day period after confiscation, mortality rates (including euthanasia for humane reasons) for the various taxa were 18% for invertebrates, 44.5% for amphibians, 41.6% for reptiles, and 5.5% for mammals. Causes of morbidity and mortality included cannibalism, crushing, dehydration, emaciation, hypothermic stress, infection, parasite infestation, starvation, overcrowding, stress/injuries, euthanasia on compassionate grounds, and undetermined causes. Contributing factors for disease and injury included poor hygiene; inadequate, unreliable, or inappropriate provision of food, water, heat, and humidity; presumed high levels of stress due to inappropriate housing leading to intraspecific aggression; absent or minimal environmental enrichment; and crowding. Risks for introduction of invasive species through escapes and/or spread of pathogens to naive populations also were identified.

Concepts: Death, Species, Animal, Reptile, Mammal, Chordate, Extinction, Amphibian


Few studies have examined how personality traits may be related to the amounts and types of attachments humans have toward companion animals (pets). In this study, 1,098 companion animal guardians (owners) completed a survey that included the Big Five Inventory, the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale, and the Pet Attachment Questionnaire. Each participant chose whether he or she identified as a Cat Person, Dog Person, Both, or Neither. Results indicated that neuroticism, conscientiousness, choosing a dog as a favorite pet, and identifying as a Cat Person, Dog Person, or Both predicted affection for a pet. Conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness decreased avoidant attachment to pets, and neuroticism increased anxious attachment to pets. Both dogs and cats could benefit from pet owners who are conscientious, and there may be some benefits of neuroticism in pet owners. The findings of this study will advance understanding of the human-animal bond. As this understanding increases, measurements of human attachment and personality may be useful for the development of tools that could assist shelter employees and veterinarians in counseling people about pet ownership.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Veterinary medicine, Neuroticism, Dog, Big Five personality traits, Pet, Trait theory


Bull breeds are commonly kept as companion animals, but the pit bull terrier is restricted by breed-specific legislation (BSL) in parts of the United States and throughout the United Kingdom. Shelter workers must decide which breed(s) a dog is. This decision may influence the dog’s fate, particularly in places with BSL. In this study, shelter workers in the United States and United Kingdom were shown pictures of 20 dogs and were asked what breed each dog was, how they determined each dog’s breed, whether each dog was a pit bull, and what they expected the fate of each dog to be. There was much variation in responses both between and within the United States and United Kingdom. UK participants frequently labeled dogs commonly considered by U.S. participants to be pit bulls as Staffordshire bull terriers. UK participants were more likely to say their shelters would euthanize dogs deemed to be pit bulls. Most participants noted using dogs' physical features to determine breed, and 41% affected by BSL indicated they would knowingly mislabel a dog of a restricted breed, presumably to increase the dog’s adoption chances.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Selective breeding, Dog, Dog breed, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Pit Bull, Breed-specific legislation


Drive hunts are a method to herd, capture and kill small cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in coastal waters of some countries including Japan and the Faroe Islands. In Japan, these methods are often associated with the acquisition of live dolphins for international marine parks and aquaria. During the hunts, dolphins are herded by a flotilla of fishing vessels and loud underwater noise created by fishermen banging hammers on metal poles. The prolonged and strenuous chase and use of sound barriers to herd, capture, and restrain the dolphins can result in acute stress and injury. The authors review physiological and behavioral data pertaining to chase, encirclement, and live capture of dolphins and draw comparisons between chase and capture data for marine and terrestrial species. This analysis raises substantial welfare concerns associated with the hunts and acquisition of dolphins from such capture operations. The authors assert that this data detailing the negative impacts of chase, herding and handling (capture) of small cetaceans renders these hunts inherently inhumane and should inform policy relating to the collection and management of dolphins in the wild.


Problematic behaviors are a significant reason for relinquishment, and relinquished dogs are more likely to have problem behaviors. This study utilized standardized surveys of owners (companion animal guardians) relinquishing their dogs to shelters and dog owners visiting vaccination clinics. “Relinquishing” and “continuing” owners were asked questions in the following categories: demographic information, training methods and tools, frequencies in which their dogs engaged in problematic behaviors, and attachment to their dogs. “Relinquishers” were also asked to provide their reasons for relinquishment. The results of 129 surveys (80 relinquishing and 49 continuing) showed that relinquishers scored lower on companion animal attachment than continuing owners. Pit bull-type dogs were represented more in the relinquishing group. Relinquished dogs were no less likely to have attended training classes than continuing dogs. In both groups, owners who used punishment-based collars reported less satisfaction with their dogs' overall and leash-walking behaviors. Pit bull-type dogs were reported to be no less well behaved compared with all other breeds combined. Sixty-five percent of relinquishers reported some behavioral reason for relinquishment. Forty-eight percent of relinquishers indicated that at least 1 problem behavior was a strong influence on their decision to relinquish.

Concepts: Psychology, Following, Behavior, Human behavior, Behaviorism, Dog, Ownership, Pet


Adoption records from 2 no kill shelters in New York State were examined to determine how age, sex, size, breed group, and coat color influenced the length of stay (LOS) of dogs at these shelters. Young puppies had the shortest length of stay; LOS among dogs increased linearly as age increased. Neither coat color nor sex influenced LOS. Considering only size classifications, medium-size dogs had the greatest LOS, and extra small dogs and puppies remained in shelters for the least amount of time. Considering only breed groupings, dogs in the guard group had the greatest LOS and those in the giant group had the shortest LOS. The lack of effect of coat color was not expected, nor was the shorter LOS among “fighting” breeds compared with other breed groups. Coat color and breed may have only local effects on LOS that do not generalize to all shelters, including traditional shelters. Understanding the traits of dogs in a specific shelter and the characteristics of these nonhuman animals desired by adopters are critical to improving the welfare of animals served by that shelter.

Concepts: Animal, Dog, Dog breed, Dog type, No-kill shelter