Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy

Time filter

Source Type

Cafazzo S.,University of Parma | Cafazzo S.,Wolf Science Center | Maragliano L.,Azienda USL Rome D | Bonanni R.,University of Parma | And 13 more authors.
Physiology and Behavior | Year: 2014

The Italian National Law 281 of 1991 forbids the euthanatization of free-ranging dogs, unless they have an incurable illness or are proved to be dangerous. Without neglecting the undeniable benefits of the "no-kill" policy, nevertheless it has brought about a chronic overpopulation in shelters and, as a result, higher costs of management and welfare problems since some dogs remain in the shelter for life. In 2004-2008, the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale of the Lazio and Tuscany regions carried out a survey in the Lazio Region to verify the effects of the Italian National Law 281/91 on free-ranging dog management following 15. years from its implementation. One of the aims of the study was an assessment of the welfare of dogs in a shelter sample (8 shelters out of 47 censused in the Lazio Region). 97 mixed-breed dogs were selected, their behaviour was studied and a blood sample was taken for each dog in order to determine the individual blood concentration of cortisol and the amount of oxidative damage (level of dRoms), as well as the amount of antioxidants to cope with it. Moreover, the total leukocyte count (leukogram) was accomplished. We ran general backward stepwise regression models using "level of antioxidant", "level of dRoms" and "level of serum cortisol" as dependent variables respectively. The results showed that the most important variable that improved the level of welfare of dogs consisted in having the opportunity to regularly go out of the cage for a walk, whereas other variables like gender, size of the cage (small, medium, large), being alone in the cage, and being neutered/entire, had no significant effect on the physiological indicators of welfare. Dogs that enjoyed the regular walk had a higher total antioxidant capacity, and performed a lower frequency of displacing activities and stereotyped behaviour. Moreover, oxidative stress parameters seem to be indicators well matched with behavioural indicators of stress. Thus, for the first time, markers of oxidative status are utilised for the welfare evaluation in the domestic dog. Furthermore, the results of this paper give some suggestion about how small steps can help to improve shelters and, furthermore, this paper intends to solicit the debate on the no-kill policy. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.


Cafazzo S.,University of Parma | Cafazzo S.,Wolf Science Center | Bonanni R.,University of Parma | Valsecchi P.,University of Parma | Natoli E.,Azienda USL Rome D
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Mating and reproductive outcome is often determined by the simultaneous operation of different mechanisms like intrasexual competition, mating preferences and sexual coercion. The present study investigated how social variables affected mating outcome in a pack of free-ranging dogs, a species supposed to have lost most features of the social system of wolves during domestication. We found that, although the pack comprised multiple breeding individuals, both male copulation success and female reproductive success were positively influenced by a linear combination of dominance rank, age and leadership. Our results also suggest that mate preferences affect mating outcome by reinforcing the success of most dominant individuals. In particular, during their oestrous period bitches clearly searched for the proximity of high-ranking males who displayed affiliative behaviour towards them, while they were more likely to reject the males who intimidated them. At the same time, male courting effort and male-male competition for receptive females appeared to be stronger in the presence of higher-ranking females, suggesting a male preference for dominant females. To our knowledge, these results provide the first clear evidence of social regulation of reproductive activities in domestic dogs, and suggest that some common organizing mechanisms may contribute to shape the social organization of both dogs and wolves. © 2014 Cafazzo et al.


Cafazzo S.,University of Parma | Natoli E.,Azienda USL Rome D | Valsecchi P.,University of Parma
Ethology | Year: 2012

Most mammals scent-mark, and a variety of hypotheses have been put forward to explain this behaviour. Most of our knowledge about scent marking in domestic dogs comes from studies carried out on laboratory or companion dogs, while few studies have been carried out on free-ranging dogs. Here, we explored the functional significance of different scent-marking behavioural patterns in a pack of free-ranging domestic dogs by testing two non-exclusive hypotheses: the indirect territorial defence and the dominance/threat hypotheses. Through direct observation, we recorded the locations of dog scent marks (urination, defecation and ground scratching) and information regarding the identity and posture of the marking animal. We found evidence that markings are used by dogs to form a 'property line' and to threaten rivals during agonistic conflicts. Both males and females utilized scent marking to assert dominance and probably to relocate food or maintain possession over it. Raised-leg urination and ground scratching probably play a role in olfactory and visual communication in both males and females. Urinations released by females, especially through flexed-leg posture, may also convey information about their reproductive state. Finally, our observations suggest that defecation does not play an essential role in olfactory communication among free-ranging dogs and that standing and squat postures are associated with normal excretion. Our results suggest that many of the proposed functions of marking behaviours are not mutually exclusive, and all should be explored through detailed field and laboratory studies. © 2012 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.


A study on cancer of the lymphatic and hematopoietic tissue among residents aged 0-14 years was conducted by the Local Health Unit RMD (Rome, Italy; period 2003-09; codes of the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification: 200-208). Age and gender Standardized Mortality and Hospitalization Ratios were computed in order to compare observed and expected cases, using municipal rates as reference. Place of residence at the time of admission, as recorded in the Hospital Registry, was compared with the information recorded in the Municipal Registers and the correlation between the two sources was calculated by Cohen's Kappa. No mortality nor morbidity excesses were observed in the study area. Although 14% of children were not confirmed as being resident at the time of admission, the Cohen's Kappa indicates a strong correlation between the Municipal Registry and the Hospital Registry (84%). The analyses restricted to children with ascertained residence did not yield different results. For those whose residence was not confirmed, the mismatch of information between the Municipality Registry and the Hospital Registry needs to be clarified.


Bonanni R.,University of Parma | Natoli E.,Azienda USL Rome D | Cafazzo S.,University of Parma | Valsecchi P.,University of Parma
Animal Cognition | Year: 2011

In conflicts between social groups, the decision of competitors whether to attack/retreat should be based on the assessment of the quantity of individuals in their own and the opposing group. Experimental studies on numerical cognition in animals suggest that they may represent both large and small numbers as noisy mental magnitudes subject to scalar variability, and small numbers (≤4) also as discrete object-files. Consequently, discriminating between large quantities, but not between smaller ones, should become easier as the asymmetry between quantities increases. Here, we tested these hypotheses by recording naturally occurring conflicts in a population of free-ranging dogs, Canis lupus familiaris, living in a suburban environment. The overall probability of at least one pack member approaching opponents aggressively increased with a decreasing ratio of the number of rivals to that of companions. Moreover, the probability that more than half of the pack members withdrew from a conflict increased when this ratio increased. The skill of dogs in correctly assessing relative group size appeared to improve with increasing the asymmetry in size when at least one pack comprised more than four individuals, and appeared affected to a lesser extent by group size asymmetries when dogs had to compare only small numbers. These results provide the first indications that a representation of quantity based on noisy mental magnitudes may be involved in the assessment of opponents in intergroup conflicts and leave open the possibility that an additional, more precise mechanism may operate with small numbers. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.


Cafazzo S.,University of Parma | Valsecchi P.,University of Parma | Bonanni R.,University of Parma | Natoli E.,Azienda USL Rome D
Behavioral Ecology | Year: 2010

Current knowledge about social behavior of free-ranging domestic dogs is scarce, and the possibility that they could form stable social groups has been highly debated. We investigated the existence of a social-dominance hierarchy in a free-ranging group of domestic dogs. We quantified the pattern of dyadic exchange of a number of behaviors to examine to what extent each behavior fits a linear rank-order model. We distinguished among agonistic dominance, formal dominance, and competitive ability. The agonistic-dominance hierarchy in the study group shows significant and substantial linearity. As in random assortments of captive wolves, there is a prominent but nonexclusive male agonistic dominance in each age class. The agonistic rank-order correlates positively and significantly with age. Submissive-affiliative behavior fulfills the criteria of formal submission signals; nevertheless, it was not observed among all dogs, and thus, it is not useful to order the dogs in a consistent linear rank. Agonistic-dominance relationships in the dog group remain stable across different competitive contexts and to the behaviors considered. Some individuals gain access to food prevailing over other dogs during competitions. Access to food resources is predicted reasonably well by agonistic rank order: High-ranking individuals have the priority of access. The findings of this research contradict the notion that free-ranging dogs are "asocial" animals and agree with other studies suggesting that long-term social bonds exist within free-ranging dog groups. © 2010 The Author.


Bonanni R.,University of Parma | Valsecchi P.,University of Parma | Natoli E.,Azienda USL Rome D
Animal Behaviour | Year: 2010

Cooperative intergroup aggression provides an example of a costly cooperative behaviour whose benefits spill over to noncooperative animals as well. Consequently, investigating factors that promote individual participation in intergroup contests should prove useful for understanding how cooperation may persist in animal societies despite cheating. Here, we examined variables affecting individual participation in naturally occurring conflicts between groups of free-ranging dogs, Canis lupus familiaris. The overall proportion of cooperating group members decreased significantly with an increasing number of group members present. In one pack, the individual probability of active participation decreased significantly when this pack had a numerical advantage over opponents. Dogs belonging to the smallest pack tended to be more cooperative than those belonging to larger groups. Social prestige (measured as the number of submissions received during greeting) did not appear to be a consequence of cooperative behaviour. Individual participation increased with an increasing number of affiliative partners. Young and high-ranking dogs tended to cooperate more when their group was outnumbered by opponents but did not stay at the front of the pack during conflicts. These results emphasize the greater opportunity for cheating in larger groups and the complexity of dogs' behaviour. Cooperation appears to be conditional on both the 'adversity of the environment' (as measured by relative group size) and the identity/behaviour of companions. © 2010 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.


Bonanni R.,University of Parma | Cafazzo S.,University of Bologna | Valsecchi P.,University of Parma | Natoli E.,Azienda USL Rome D
Animal Behaviour | Year: 2010

Consensus decisions about the nature and timing of group activities allow animals to maintain group cohesiveness, but also entail costs because individuals often differ with respect to their optimal activity budgets. Two mechanisms whereby animals reach a consensus include 'consistent leadership', in which a single dominant individual makes the decision, and 'variable leadership' in which several group members contribute to the decision outcome. Sharing of consensus decisions is expected to reduce consensus costs to most group members. Both patterns are thought to emerge from the complexity of social relationships of group members. We investigated the distribution of leadership during group departures in two packs of free-ranging dogs, Canis lupus familiaris, and tested how its distribution between individuals was affected by dominance rank-related affiliative and agonistic relationships. Although leadership was not entirely concentrated on a single group member, both packs had a limited number of habitual leaders. In the largest pack, the pattern of leadership changed from 'variable' to nearly 'consistent' after its size had shrunk. Habitual leaders were usually old and high-ranking individuals. However, high-ranking dogs that received affiliative submissions in greeting ceremonies were more likely to lead than dominant dogs receiving submissions only in agonistic contexts. During resting times, habitual followers associated more closely with habitual leaders than with other followers. These results suggest that in social species collective movements may arise from the effort of subordinates to maintain close proximity with specific valuable social partners. © 2010 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.


PubMed | Azienda USL Rome D.
Type: Comparative Study | Journal: Annali di igiene : medicina preventiva e di comunita | Year: 2012

A study on cancer of the lymphatic and hematopoietic tissue among residents aged 0-14 years was conducted by the Local Health Unit RMD (Rome, Italy; period 2003-09; codes of the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification: 200-208). Age and gender Standardized Mortality and Hospitalization Ratios were computed in order to compare observed and expected cases, using municipal rates as reference. Place of residence at the time of admission, as recorded in the Hospital Registry, was compared with the information recorded in the Municipal Registers and the correlation between the two sources was calculated by Cohens Kappa. No mortality nor morbidity excesses were observed in the study area. Although 14% of children were not confirmed as being resident at the time of admission, the Cohens Kappa indicates a strong correlation between the Municipal Registry and the Hospital Registry (84%). The analyses restricted to children with ascertained residence did not yield different results. For those whose residence was not confirmed, the mismatch of information between the Municipality Registry and the Hospital Registry needs to be clarified.

Loading Azienda USL Rome D collaborators
Loading Azienda USL Rome D collaborators