Caring properly for care animals

In June, the symposium ‘Caring Properly for Care Animals’ was held, organised by students of the major Animals in Health Care within the Bachelor of Animal Management programme at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands).
The use of animals in supportive and therapeutic roles has been increasing both within and outside of health care facilities, due to the positive influence animals often have on human physical and mental well-being. But is enough attention paid to the well-being of the animals themselves? The major Animals in Health Care, offered since 2009 at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences, consists of four modules highlighting the most important aspects of animal use in health care. Care farms, Animal-Assisted Activities, and Animal-Assisted Therapy are covered, as well as general topics such as safety and hygiene, laws and regulations, and the psychology of health care. The symposium examined the welfare of care animals from various perspectives.

Dr. Vincent Pompe, biologist and philosopher at Van Hall Larenstein, shed light on the way in which animals and humans, both vulnerable, influence each other in care situations. Animal ethics and health care ethics come together; both the person and the animal should flourish.

A researcher and biologist from Livestock Research at Wageningen UR, Dr Marko Ruis, presented an explanation of the Welfare Quality® criteria. The systematic definition of these criteria makes it possible to measure animal well-being. Signals and characteristics of behaviour and health are the focus; shelter and nutrition are additional fundamental conditions for optimal well-being.

The symposium also featured a presentation on Dutch Cell Dogs; please see the separate article in this newsletter.