Med. Weter. 76

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Lack of environmental enrichments in shelters for homeless animals: Animal welfare and human perception of animals’ need
The more social and intelligent an animal is, the more stimuli it needs for optimal welfare. Animal welfare is based on complex interactions between somatic, psychological and social stimuli that fulfill animals’ needs at various levels. This is also true of dogs – the species that was domesticated first due to its extensive social and communicative skills as well as cognitive capabilities. In view of these facts, it is difficult to explain why Polish law does not require animal shelters to provide dogs with environmental and social enrichments. Environmental enrichments are required by law for animals used in scientific experiments, for animals kept in zoos and for farm animals in industrial farming, but not for companion species kept in shelters. This is even more surprising considering that homeless animals spend long years in shelters, while the other categories of animals mentioned above may, according to their use, live much shorter lives. What are the consequences of this undesirable situation for animals in shelters and for society, and how can it be changed?
Keywords: environmental enrichment, animal shelter, animal welfare