Attitude towards pets in veterinary surgeons: a comparison between female and male veterinarians in Italy
- attitude towards oets
The aim of this study was to investigate possible gender differences in the attitude towards animals among companion animal veterinarians.
The sample was made up of 337 veterinary surgeons involved in the clinic of small animals, 41.1±9.4 years old, graduated in the period 1974-2015, working in different areas of Italy. The sample was formed by 261 female and 76 male veterinary surgeons.
The participants filled in a questionnaire included items regarding personal data as well as items related to welfare. Respondents’ were asked to rate, using a 1-5 Likert scale, the importance of the Brambell’s five freedoms for the welfare of pet species and their actual protection. The questionnaire also included the 20-item ethics subscale of the Animal Attitude Scale (AAS).
Women showed a higher AAS total score (78.8±11.4 vs 72.1±13.7; U=7062.00; p<0.001). However, no difference was found between women and men for the items of AAS regarding pets, specifically where dog-fighting and dog shelters were mentioned. Women were found to consider more important, for the well-being of pets, the provision of an appropriate physical environment (U=7574.00; p<0.001), the freedom from fear and distress (U=8432.00; p=0.012) and the freedom to express normal behaviour (U=8400.00; p=0.012). Males were instead found to consider their patients more protected in their need to express normal behavior (U=8222.50; p=0.012).
These findings confirm a strong influence of the gender on the attitude towards non-human animals: female veterinarians showed more concern for animal welfare issues than did males both in terms of sensitivity to animal use by humans and in importance given to the five freedoms for the welfare of pet animals.