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Developments in animal welfare

The OIE is constantly progressing in the development of animal welfare standards and related activities. For the development of standards, the scientific base is essential and there is a need for more applied research, especially on animal welfare related issues in developing countries. The implementation of standards is also influenced by practical and economic aspects. Recognition of the need for managed change over agreed time-frames, and involving full consultation with affected animal user groups, is essential.

Relevance and importance of laboratory animal welfare


What is the role of the OIE in the development of intergovernmental standards for laboratory animal welfare?

Find out by watching this interview with Dr. Bernard Vallat (in French):



Regarding laboratory animals in education and research, the OIE standards recommend the use of appropriate conditions of animal health and welfare management and respect of the internationally accepted Threes ‘Rs’.

In addition, the establishment of national regulatory frameworks for the welfare of laboratory animals, in line with the Terrestrial Code standards, is important to assure the health and welfare of the animals and to safeguard the health and safety of people working with these animals.

Air transport of laboratory animals, particularly dogs, cats and non-human primates is a controversial topic - many commercial airlines refuse to carry laboratory animals mainly for fear of reprisals by extremist animal rights groups. However, air transport of these animals is needed to support scientific research programmes that are key to human and veterinary medicine.

Consequently, the OIE has established standards for air transport of animals and specific recommendations on the transport of laboratory animals. The OIE also urges Members to comply with the Regulations of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), with which the OIE has an official agreement. Compliance with OIE and IATA recommendations provides appropriate safeguards for animal health and welfare, and public safety.



  Download the OIE Discussion paper


Welfare of animals in disasters

The OIE has a well-recognised leadership role in protecting the world against biological disasters, whether of natural or man-made origin, through its work in the elaboration of standards for the diagnosis, early detection, reporting and control of animal diseases, including zoonotic diseases that can be used as agents of bioterrorism.

In any disaster situation, the first priority is to preserve human life and health. However, animal welfare is an important aspect that must not be overlooked. Experience has shown that the prospects for communities to recover and become sustainable are strongly influenced by the preservation of their animals, whether these are used for food production, work, security or company.

In 2013, the OIE prepared a discussion paper on the options for providing specific guidance to national Veterinary Services in relation to the management of animal health and welfare in a disaster situation. In 2014, a new ad hoc expert Group held a first meeting to consider the drafting of relevant guidelines. In 2016 the OIE published the guidelines for disaster management and risk reduction in relation to animal health, animal welfare and veterinary public health with the goal of strengthening the capacity of Veterinary Services in Member Countries.


 Download the Discussion paper






Download the guidelines






World Animal Protection, which is an important partner of the OIE in animal welfare is very active in disaster response.

The OIE was consulted in the preparation of the 2nd edition of the Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS), which was launched by the LEGS Project, an independent initiative supported by a range of stakeholders, in May 2015. The LEGS is an authoritative source of information on the management of livestock in emergency situations. It focuses on the agencies and organisations that are classically involved as first responders in emergency situations and natural disasters.