What is Animal Welfare’s Definition?

Animal Welfare

If you are an animal lover or an animal activist, I am sure you have heard or even used the word animal welfare. However, what is the definition of animal welfare? What does animal welfare really mean? Animal welfare is a word that many people know of, but don’t really understand or grasp the definition. Well, today, this article here is going to help you understand animal welfare’s definition. So without further ado, let’s get started because animal welfare’s definition is a complex one.

Animal Welfare General Background

Before we start our deep dive into animal welfare’s definition, let’s just talk about the general ideas. Animal welfare is a topic that more people should be aware of, but often don’t know or don’t seem to understand. Or people get them confused with animal rights. Animal welfare is not just about animals, it is a topic that is often discussed for science, in zoos, and in the food industry. Animal welfare is about how we and the animal interact and coexist together, at the same time, taking responsibility for the damage that we have caused to the animals and make sure that we can continue to have animals on this earth. So here is a very basic brush over of what animal welfare is. For more detailed information about animal welfare, check out our other article.

Animal Welfare’s Definition

Happy cow- animal welfare
One reason animal welfare is very complex is due to the fact that there are different definitions depending on different people. In addition, how to measure or achieve a positive animal welfare evaluation is also varied based on the industry and the topic of research.

According to American Veterinary Medical Association, animal welfare’s definition is “how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives.” Which often refers to when animals are in human care such as zoos, research centers, and even wildlife sanctuaries and conservations. However, we need to take into consideration what is considered to be coping in the environment. It could mean that the animals are physically healthy, however, in distress, or that they are surviving, but due to the ability to adapt, they can no longer perform the species’ natural survival techniques or instinct.
While the definition of animal welfare is mentioned above, oftentimes when animal welfare is mentioned, it is due to the lack of it. Animal lovers and activists often raise awareness for animal welfare, as many of the animals in research and zoos, and sometimes even pets, are not treated with the standard of good animal welfare standards. This goes to show that the concept of animal welfare is very important and the aim, however, the definition of animal welfare can be considered too complex.

The Concept of Animal Welfare

While the definition of animal welfare is complex and varying, the concept behind animal welfare is much simpler. Animal welfare hopes to protect the animals and provide them with adequate care that will ensure the animal is not in distress and living in a humane way. With the further development of animal welfare definitions and understandings of animals, the chances of fulfilling animal welfare’s goal will be closer. Unfortunately, we are running out of time, as many species are going extinct on a daily basis, causing animals that need to be put in human care in order to survive. In addition, as the weather gets harsher, more species would need to rely on human care.

Where did it start?

You must be wondering when did the idea of animal welfare start? Well, the idea has been around for a while and it is quite hard to pinpoint exactly when. There have been many cases of animal welfare in very early history. However, as technology and science advantages the standards of animal welfare have changed. The most notable act of animal welfare was the Animal Welfare Act of 2006, where the law goes deep into the definition of animal welfare and the different aspects that should be taken into consideration when rating animal welfare. Nowadays, there are many groups that are still fighting for animal welfare and hoping to create the best definition and standards for animal welfare. However, with man causing climate changes, many animal species’ survival is in danger, thus, making them even more dependent on human care. It is important that we continue to advocate for animal welfare.

What should we do now?

Animal welfare is more than just zoo but the food industry too.
Animal welfare is an important subject and sometimes it seems like it is not enough. Fortunately, the animal lovers out there are fighting for animal welfare. As individuals, we should also be conscious of our actions. We, humans, are also animals ourselves, so it is important that we take care of our friends.
For information about animal welfare, make sure you check out our other article about just animal welfare such as animal rights vs. animal welfare.

“Animal Welfare: What Is It?” American Veterinary Medical Association. Web. 09 Dec. 2020.
Hewson, Caroline J. “What Is Animal Welfare? Common Definitions and Their Practical Consequences.” June 2003. Web. 10 Dec. 2020.
Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!