Multidisciplinary Center for Infectious Diseases (MCID)

Ethics and Policy Lab receive mandate from the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office

The Ethics & Policy Lab co-managers Dr. Caroline Brall and PD Dr. Caroline Schlaufer are mandated by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) to conduct a project on “Creating political acceptance for disease control measures in household pets: a public policy and ethics perspective”. The three-year project will start in October 2023 and aims to provide evidence-based knowledge on feasible and socially accepted policy measures to prevent, manage, and control infectious diseases in pets.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of research and policy actions to address the risks of zoonotic diseases, i.e., diseases stemming from animals that adversely affect the health of humans. Switzerland has developed a national Animal Health Strategy that formulates policy measures in the fields of prevention, emergency preparedness, disease control, international cooperation, and research. Most of these measures address the health of productive livestock. However, new and re-emerging diseases do not only affect livestock but also household pets, i.e., animals that are kept in households as companions such as cats or dogs, but research on the feasibility and acceptance of policy measures to prevent and control diseases in pets is lacking. The proposed project aims to address this gap with empirical research on possible policy measures, their acceptance among target groups and stakeholders, as well as by providing recommendations for practical implementation of these measures.

The research project is anchored in the fields of public policy and ethics. Acceptance of policy measures is essential to ensure the effective implementation of measures. Public acceptance is expected to be especially important when designing policy measures addressing pet keepers: pets have a higher emotional value in society than productive livestock and a social function. Moreover, when societal acceptance of public policy is lacking, controversies about the underlying ethical values may appear in public discourse. Ethical analysis will support the research project to uncover the underlying public interests and ethical values related to animal disease control measures.

The practical purpose of the project is to support the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) and the Swiss Veterinary Service with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders to prepare a strategy for the design of disease prevention, management, and control measures for pets and to increase acceptance of disease control measures among household pet keepers.