In short, yes, so do humans. And to say that the animal can feel pain is a myth. In fact, animals can feel pain. In the study cited earlier, scientists in Japan gave pachyderms in cages either electric shocks or shocks of a different type (called an alternating current, or AC) to make them stop moving.
The test animal that did not feel pain was not stunned and therefore did not suffer. On the other hand, stunned pachyderms began to move more slowly even before the pain threshold was reached. Shock is a painkiller.
“I just want to say just to avoid confusion, the horses were stunned twice and the horses never died,” Dr. Ollivier said. “But when I got out to the pachyderms the blood started to shoot out of those feet, the heart rate went down and if there was nothing there, which a lot of the time it was there, and there was no heartbeat, they were dead.”
And no horses died of shock-related illnesses, she said.
Dr. Ollivier now heads a research team at Université Laval that is studying the potential benefits of shocks of different types for horses.
But veterinarians in Ontario say no evidence exists that shocks of current can reduce stress and illness in horses. The issue has been studied for more than a decade in Japan, where veterinarians now conduct studies in horses being euthanized by animal control.
“All the evidence suggests that it is detrimental to horses,” said Dr. Mark Boulton of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “We have never done research in this country on the effect of shock therapy for horses that we know have some form of illness, and we would be very concerned if we found that evidence in Canada regarding the safety of a procedure when you know that you have an existing condition associated with it.”
Dr. Rachael Nadeau, director of Ontario’s Veterinary Emergency and Primary Care Clinic, also questions the scientific evidence that horses can truly feel pain.
“Horses are animals and we know what an animal is capable of,” she said. “We don’t know what animal feels.”
But even veterinarians who defend a procedure like shock therapy don’t agree that it’s a humane tool.
“They’re not a ‘good death’ to horses,” said Dr. Derryl Aikins of the University of Manitoba. “Not
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