Title
The implementation of animal welfare standards by Member Countries of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE): analysis of an OIE questionnaire
 
Summary
A questionnaire on the status of animal welfare legislation and its implementation was distributed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to 172 Member Countries in 2008. Overall, 45% of questionnaires were returned. The response rate varied from 25% in Africa to 69% in Europe. Eighty-seven percent of respondent countries indicated that there was a competent national veterinary authority for animal welfare legislation in their country. In many countries, the authority responsible for the operational implementation of animal welfare legislation appears to be the same as the authority responsible for creating the legislation. Forty-nine (66%) respondents identified a veterinary authority as being responsible for the implementation of animal welfare legislation at a state or provincial level. Most respondent countries indicated that they had legislation covering animal transport (83%), the slaughter of animals for human consumption (91%), the killing of animals for disease control (86%) and dog control (61%). Training courses on animal welfare were available for official veterinarians, private veterinarians, producers and processors in 73%, 44%, 57% and 51% of respondent countries, respectively. Eighty-two percent of respondent countries exported live animals to other countries and 56% of respondent countries indicated that personnel handling animals during transport were aware of OIE standards on animal welfare or other standards. Many European countries require transporters to be trained and certified according to European Union regulations. It was mandatory to stun livestock prior to slaughter in 31% of countries, but in 57% religious exceptions were allowed, and in 8% stunning was not mandatory. The most commonly used method of stunning was mechanical but electrical stunning was also common. It was mandatory to stun livestock prior to killing for disease control in 44% of countries but it was not mandatory in 43%. There was legislation on humane killing in 74% of countries, but in 25% of countries there was no such legislation. The national veterinary authority was responsible for these regulations in most (71%) respondent countries. In 73% of respondent countries the personnel who conducted killing for disease control were generally aware of the domestic legislation for animal welfare. Of all the problems considered, the problem of stray dog management was ranked as ‘major’ or ‘severe’ more often than any of the other issues. Killing for disease control was mentioned as a problem by one respondent, but only if services were overwhelmed. In the animal transport section of the questionnaire, long-distance transport was the major issue. Many respondents had no problems with any of these issues.
 
Keywords
Animal welfare – Disease control – Legislation – Questionnaire – Slaughter – Standards – Stray dogs – Transport – Veterinary Services – Welfare – World Organisation for Animal Health.