The sooner the better: The arguments for the use of Extended Welfare Assessment Grids in animal welfare cases

Rachel Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Animals are protected under national animal welfare legislation, against intentional acts of cruelty and a failure to act, resulting in neglect and causing an animal to suffer. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) bears the responsibility of investigating and prosecuting the majority of animal welfare offences in England and Wales. In recent years, how they operate has been criticised, and it has been debated whether they should be able to bring private prosecutions, and what their role should actually be. This criticism calls for a change in the way in which the RSPCA approach cases of animal welfare, to strengthen their continuing role in ensuring positive animal welfare is achieved and, where not, prosecuted. This paper outlines the need for a new approach and how it can be managed. Honess and Wolfensohn (Altern Lab Anim 38:205, 2010) have developed an Extended Welfare Assessment Grid (EWAG), a visualisation mapping tool of welfare impact, which has been useful for assessing the welfare of animals used in laboratories. This tool has proven so useful, veterinarians are now using it in veterinary hospitals to help assess whether an animal is likely to further deteriorate, due to disease and illness, and to show any short-term welfare impact on the animal (Williams in UFAW conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2018). This paper will explore the potential for the EWAG to be adapted to assess the welfare of animals when owners are not meeting the welfare needs of their companion animals. RSPCA can use it to support their assessments of the current welfare of an animal under a person’s ownership and whether the animal’s welfare will deteriorate should they remain under that ownership. The EWAG will be a useful tool for those working in animal welfare, such as the RSPCA, to help organisations to intervene earlier, work in partnership with an owner, and support their claims of a risk to animal welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-127
Number of pages21
JournalLiverpool Law Review
Issue number2
Early online date13 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


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