The study compared the perception of ordinary citizens from Curitiba, Brazil (OB) and Clermont-Ferrand, France (OF), as well as OB, Brazilian veterinarians (VB), biologists (BB) and animal scientists (AB), concerning animal welfare and sentience. An online survey containing 18 open-ended, multiple choices and Likert scale questions was conducted from November 2014 to May 2016. The survey covered questions on demographics, perception of animal welfare, sheep welfare, sentience and animals’ emotional capacities. In total, 1103 respondents participated in the survey (388 OB, 350 OF, 248 VB, 92 BB and 25 AB); data were compared using non-parametric tests. Brazilian citizens (46.9%) believed more than OF (3.7%) that welfare is not considered for farm animals and OB attributed higher scores of suffering to sheep during management procedures (median 4, severe suffering) than OF (3, moderate suffering). Additionally, OB gave higher scores of emotions to animals (5) than OF (4). In general, OB and BB had similar perceptions; OB and BB differed from VB and AB who were similar to each other. Citizens (46.9%) and BB (29.3%) believed more than VB (18.5%) and AB (12.0%) that welfare is not considered for farm animals; OB and BB also attributed higher scores of suffering to sheep during management procedures than VB and AB. Women and older respondents showed higher perception of animal welfare issues. There was no clear correlation between perception of animal welfare or sentience and education. Overall, ordinary citizens differed on their perceptions of welfare and sentience in livestock and specifically in sheep, and sheep suffering during management procedures. Ordinary citizens from Curitiba showed higher perception of animal welfare issues as compared to respondents from Clermont-Ferrand and to veterinarians and animal scientists. Ensuring a better consideration of welfare at farm level and in educational programs seems warranted according to the results of this study.
|Publication Title||PLoS One|
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