The attitude of people toward animals has been changing throughout the history. For a long time, it was believed that people are worth more than animals. In time, though, that conviction changed and animals gained in importance, becoming more than just a source of food and income. An increasing number of people are trying to promote animal welfare, which is defined as a state in which an animal lives in harmony with its environment. The notion of animal welfare appears in the context of mutual relationships between people and animals, protection of animals from torture, and preservation of animal health. The notion of animal welfare pertains predominantly to the animals bred and brought up by people for personal gain, e.g. animal companions, farm animals, and laboratory animals. It also pertains to free-roaming animals who are not directly affected by people but whose welfare and existence still depend on the doings of mankind (Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Food Safety, Veterinary, and Plant Protection, 2018). Animal welfare argues that the torture of animals has to be stopped and that animals have to be provided with quality living conditions and a humane death. It relates to the relationships between people and animals taken care of by people in a responsible and humane manner (Animal Welfare: What Is It? 2017).
The legislation on the protection of animals has changed on a number of occasions. In the developed countries of the world, the legislation is well enforced, indicating that animals are protected against torture; whereas in the underdeveloped countries, animal protection is non-existent or is known to a lesser extent (Eadie, 2011). The legislation in the Republic of Slovenia comprises a number of legal acts protecting animals. The most topical one is the Animal Protection Act, followed by the Nature Conservation Act and Order on Living Conditions for and Care of Wild Animals Kept in Captivity.
The perspectives on nature and living beings that future biology and science teachers formed during their studies reflect on their pupils or students during class. There are multiple factors that impact the formation of a child’s or teenager’s perspective on animals. Among them are gender, age, pet ownership, experiences with pet ownership, meat consumption, and fear or animals (Binngießer, Randler, and Wilhelm; 2013). Our study sample included freshmen and seniors at the Faculty of Education in Ljubljana who are majoring in biology and minoring in either chemistry or household education. We aimed to determine the perspectives of future teachers on animal welfare, find whether there are any differences between the perspectives of freshmen and seniors, and establish how the perspective is affected by gender, dietary habits, and pet ownership. The study was conducted by means of a questionnaire. The results have shown that the general perspective of future teachers is positive; however, there are some discrepancies.