The JTF believes every animal has the right to live a good life and a life worth living. Whether wild or domestic, free-living or under human care, all animals should all be afforded the opportunity to thrive.
What is animal welfare?
Animal welfare science is used to explore how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives, and whilst there isn’t actually one single unified definition for animal welfare, it is widely agreed that the ‘affective state’ (emotional state) of an animal is important.
Just like humans, animals can feel positive and negative emotions. We are all motivated to seek out those positive feelings such as contentment and joy and avoid the negative ones such as stress or pain. No animal will solely have positive experiences throughout its entire life; therefore, a quality of life is determined by examining the balance between the negative and positive experiences it experiences.
Why talk about animal emotions?
Emotions help to move you along a certain course of actions and, like us, many animals have a complex emotional capacity that is more than simply being bound to simple behavioural needs. In fact, the possession of emotions, and consequently sentience, is commonplace throughout the animal kingdom.
All species are different and we cannot, for example, assume that an elephant has the same responses to a stimulus as a human. We can, however, acknowledge that all species have the capacity to both suffer and feel positive rewarding feelings in a manner that we can relate to. Respecting an animal’s capacity to feel gives us a starting point as to how we interpret their behaviours, interact with them and what we should ask from them.
How do we measure animal welfare?
We can’t ask an animal how they are feeling, so how do we know if their welfare is good or not?
Key to this is considering an animal’s behaviour. How an animal behaves – reacts and acts in its environment – is a really good indicator of how it is feeling and whether it therefore has good welfare. We can use our understanding of an animal’s sentience and its emotional capacity in combination with its behavioural responses to consider its welfare.
When can animal welfare be compromised?
Around the world, billions of animals are under the control of humans, or are affected by human actions and activities. These include animals used in food production, in science and research, companion and working animals, and wildlife (both wild and captive). The welfare of animals is frequently adversely affected by humans as a result of human interaction, action or inaction.
How does this relate to what we fund?
The JTF believes that animals should be protected animals from suffering (through injury, pain, hunger or stress) caused by humans, and that animals should be able to thrive within their environments. We want all projects funded by the JTF to work towards allowing animals to live a good life – a life worth living.
The JTF believes that understanding and modifying human behaviours towards animals is key to improving animal welfare in a sustained way. We are most interested in funding projects offering solutions to drive positive change in human behaviours that will improve and save animals’ lives. Solutions may incorporate research to fully understand the problem and its causes (including social, economic, and political); education and outreach; development and promotion of alternatives to actions that cause harm to animals; demonstration or ‘pilot’ projects; and efforts to catalyse and expand existing proven solutions. We favour those projects that will maximise immediate and long-term animal welfare benefits, as well as those able to quantify the impact of these benefits.