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Humanely ending the life of animals: research priorities to identify alternatives to carbon dioxide


Abstract

The use of carbon dioxide (CO$_{2}$) for stunning and killing animals is considered to compromise welfare due to air hunger, anxiety, fear, and pain. Despite decades of research, no alternatives have so far been found that provide a safe and reliable way to induce unconsciousness in groups of animals, and also cause less distress than CO$_{2}$. Here, we revisit the current and historical literature to identify key research questions that may lead to the identification and implementation of more humane alternatives to induce unconsciousness in mice, rats, poultry, and pigs. In addition to the evaluation of novel methods and agents, we identify the need to standardise the terminology and behavioural assays within the field. We further reason that more accurate measurements of consciousness state are needed and serve as a central component in the assessment of suffering. Therefore, we propose a roadmap toward improving animal welfare during end-of-life procedures.

Abstract

The use of carbon dioxide (CO$_{2}$) for stunning and killing animals is considered to compromise welfare due to air hunger, anxiety, fear, and pain. Despite decades of research, no alternatives have so far been found that provide a safe and reliable way to induce unconsciousness in groups of animals, and also cause less distress than CO$_{2}$. Here, we revisit the current and historical literature to identify key research questions that may lead to the identification and implementation of more humane alternatives to induce unconsciousness in mice, rats, poultry, and pigs. In addition to the evaluation of novel methods and agents, we identify the need to standardise the terminology and behavioural assays within the field. We further reason that more accurate measurements of consciousness state are needed and serve as a central component in the assessment of suffering. Therefore, we propose a roadmap toward improving animal welfare during end-of-life procedures.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal welfare, carbon dioxide, stunning, killing, euthanasia, rodents, poultry, pigs, aversion, air hunger
Language:English
Date:2 November 2019
Deposited On:13 Nov 2019 09:51
Last Modified:13 Nov 2019 09:51
Publisher:MDPI Publishing
ISSN:2076-2615
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110911
PubMed ID:31684044

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