Conceptual frameworks for understanding animal welfare scientifically have become influential. An early “biological functioning” framework still influences expert opinions prepared for Courts hearing animal cruelty cases, despite deficiencies revealed by the emergence and wide scientific adoption of an “affective state” framework. According to “biological functioning” precepts, indices of negative welfare states should predominantly be physical and/or clinical and any reference to animals’ supposed subjective experiences, i.e., their “affective states”, should be excluded. However, “affective state” concepts, which have neuroscience and animal behaviour foundations, show that behavioural indices may be used to credibly identify negative welfare outcomes or affects. Acceptance of the “affective state” framework is entirely consistent with the current extensive international recognition that vertebrate animals are “sentient” beings. A long list of negative affects is discussed and each one is described as a prelude to updating the concept of “suffering” or “distress”, often referred to in animal welfare legislation and prosecutions for alleged ill-treatment of animals. The Five Domains Model for assessing and grading animal welfare compromise is then discussed using examples of severe-to-very-severe ill-treatment of dogs. It is concluded that experts should frame their opinions in ways that include negative affective outcomes.
Ledger, R.A. and Mellor, D.J. (2018). Forensic use of the Five Domains Model for assessing suffering in cases of animal cruelty. Animals 8(7) 101; doi:10.3390/ani8070101.