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Empathy for animals linked to oxytocin gene
The research has linked genetics to relationships between humans and animals.
Research identifies genetic difference in animal lovers
 
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) have discovered that animal lovers have a specific version of the oxytocin gene.

Oxytocin, often called the love hormone, influences human behaviour and levels rise with social bonding.

DNA samples from 161 student volunteers were analysed in the study, and participants were instructed to complete a questionnaire to indicate their compassion towards animals.

Results identified a genetic difference in those who displayed high empathy for animals; specifically, within the gene that produces oxytocin.

According to the researchers, this is the first time that genetics has been linked to relationships between humans and animals.

Dr Sarah Brown, from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, stated: “We already knew that oxytocin was important for empathy between people but now we know it helps us bond with animals too.”

Results also concluded that more women than men reacted positively towards animals, as did those working in the animal care sector.

Commenting on the study, Professor Alistair Lawrence from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and SRUC, said: “This research is only the beginning but we hope that these findings could help us to devise strategies to help improve animal welfare across the UK.”

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Wales to ban third party puppy and kitten sales

News Story 1
 The Welsh Government has said it will ban third party sales of puppies and kittens, after a consultation showed overwhelming public support.

A consultation in February received nearly 500 responses, most of whom called for greater action to improve the welfare of cats and dogs at all breeding premises.

Concerns were also raised about online sales, impulse buying, breeder accountability and illegal puppy imports.

A consultation will now be held on plans to implement a ban. Environment minister Lesley Griffiths said she will also revisit the current breeding regulations to improve welfare conditions.  

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WHO declares Congo Ebola outbreak an international health emergency

The World Health Organisation has declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The move comes after a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for Ebola in the DRC. The committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma - a city of almost two million people on the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world.

The committee also reinforced the need to protect the livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open.