Based in the Netherlands, Science4Animals (S4A) is a non-profit organization that raises funds to finance research on pets and other animals that is aimed at generating the knowledge needed to feed and keep these animals properly. S4A aims generating fundamental knowledge regarding three animal focus groups: equids, companion animals, pet exotics and zoo animals. The natural needs of these animals are taken as starting point. S4A also would like to support comparative research because the differences between these focus animal groups and animal species outside the focus animal groups (including humans) may provide new fundamental insights to improve the welfare and health of animals through nutrition. S4A is dedicated to keeping animals healthy and promoting the quality of life of domestic and other kept animals.
David van Doorn, PhD, initiated S4A by who during his studies and career in the equine industry and equine science struggled to find funding for studies addressing fundamental aspects of nutrition in relation to physiology, health, performance or wellbeing. Governmental funds supporting science projects are often lacking for non-production animals. The animal nutrition and husbandry industry often have limited funding sources for research and are more likely to fund studies related to product development and marketing related research. It is hard to find funding for independent science projects that answer fundamental questions or develop and validate new tools to optimize nutrition, health and wellbeing of kept animals. Generating fundamental knowledge will benefit the industry and its related professionals, teachers and animal owners but more importantly the animal itself.
Together with a group of other animal nutrition experts in the Netherlands (Professor Martin Verstegen, Tjalling Huisman and Joeke Nijboer, PhD) and professionals working in academia (Francine Wartena) or financial administration (Jeroen Pauw), S4A was established on World Animal Day in 2017. Together with the help and network of dedicated experts, volunteers and graduate students from various education institutes in the Netherlands and Belgium, S4A hopes to make its mission successful.
S4A would like to support out of pocket costs of science projects that address fundamental questions. Most likely these are undergraduate and graduate student projects that are preferably supervised by S4A researchers. Supervisors can be university-affiliated researchers but also scientists or experts that work independently. There is an increased interest for students in the Netherlands and Belgium to execute science projects related to equids, companion animals, pet exotics and zoo animals. As the investment of time is covered by the student or researcher, these projects often need a relatively small support for out-of-pocket costs of the project (Analysis, transport cost, costs for animal housing and care and husbandry, materials, etc.). S4A can help to support these projects and by its support upgrade these projects to a level that allows academic publishing in the form of an abstract, poster or scientific article.
By Lindsay Beaton
This country is straddling the line between developing and developed as more of its citizens see the value in pet ownership.
By Lindsay Beaton