Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why have animals become a social issue?

A truck full of chickens. Currently the housing and management of farmed chickens is a hot topic, not just among those in animal welfare but in the wider community in general.
Why have animals become a social issue? Its a massive, complex question to answer. Even in my lifetime which I like to think isn't yet that long, the status of animals within our society has changed and continues to change.

Professor JamesSerpell, from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, will be addressing this question in a public lecture at the University of Sydney on Tuesday November 3. There will be other events during the week including a panel discussion on the same day - for up to date details keep checking the HARN website.

Throughout history there have been ethical concerns about the exploitation and welfare of nonhuman animals. According to Professor Serpell, different societies and cultures resolve these questions in different ways – from radical change or the adoption of “novel exonerative belief systems that absolve humans from responsibility.”

So what are the forces behind the current resurgence of interest in animal welfare, and even animal rights, in developed countries? It’s a very important and interesting question to anyone concerned with animals - be they companion animals or livestock. Professor Serpell will discuss a number of factors including urbanisation, the decline in rural attitudes, use of animals as quasi-family members and social support providers.

This promises to be a thought-provoking, provocative discussion. Professor Serpell is the Marie A. Moore Chair of Animal Ethics and Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania. His career trajectory is fascinating: he obtained a Bachelor in Zoology, a PhD in Animal Behaviour and then established the Companion Animal Research Group at Cambridge University. He teaches veterinary ethics, applied animal behaviour and welfare and human-animal interections, and he has a strong interest in the history and impact of human-animal relationships. He really is a pioneer in the field.
To register, click here.