Friday, 3 February 2017

Postitive changes for puppy welfare!

Last year the BVA, BSAVA and BVZS put forward a joint response to the government's consultation on animal establishment licensing in the UK.

JMICAWE's own vet, Heather Bacon has been involved through her work with both the BVA and BVZS on this consultation, and in April last year was invited to speak on behalf of BVA  at an EFRA enquiry on the effectiveness of the Animal Welfare Act

During the inquiry Heather gave evidence on the need for the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to be supported by updates to secondary legislation such as the Animal Establishments Act, and the need for greater regulation, particularly around the issue of pet sales.

The updates include that laws around selling pets and breeding dogs will:
  • make it completely illegal to sell puppies younger than eight weeks
  • require anyone breeding and selling three or more litters of puppies a year to apply for a formal licence. 

Consequences of breaching the new rules include an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in prison.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Happy New Year from the JMICAWE!

Here at the University of Edinburgh’s Jeanne Marchig international Centre for Animal Welfare Education, we’re looking forward to 2017, and to further developing our exciting projects and partnerships

We’ll continue to focus in the Asia-region with ongoing projects to improve free-roaming dog welfare in India and Sri Lanka in partnership with the Dogs Trust, but we’ll also be working a little closer to home with partnerships to improve welfare in animal shelters in both Gran Canaria and here in Edinburgh.

We’ve built strong links with veterinary schools in China, India, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam and hope to continue to develop these relationships to support veterinary skills developments and promote the role of the veterinary nurse in animal welfare. We’ll also be working on a new project to support improvements in farm animal welfare in China.

We’ll continue our project to improve zoo veterinary skills in China, Japan and Indonesia through collaborations with WAZA, CAZG, EAZA, Animals Asia and Wild Welfare.

We’re also excited to be working on our new Dog & Cat behaviour MOOC to be launched later this year.

2017 is shaping up to be a busy year – we hope that you’ll continue to support us in our endeavours!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Seasons Greetings

We wish you all a happy and restful Christmas and New Year, wherever you are in the world

As we come to the close of 2016, we would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for all that you do to further animal welfare in your work.  Without the support and collaboration of people like you, our team would not have been able to achieve what we have over the past year, and certainly the future of animal welfare would not have moved forward as it has.  Highlights of our year include:

  •             The ‘Send a Vet Nurse’ projects in India and Sri Lanka, as well as collaborating with the Indian Government to run a production animal health and welfare workshop for veterinarians and researchers working in Animal Science and Veterinary medicine;

  •       Working visits to Edinburgh by the Deans and representatives from Indonesian, Philippine and Chinese veterinary schools to learn about international standards, innovation in veterinary teaching, integration of animal welfare and best practice animal care;

  •       Ongoing collaboration with Dogs Trust to improve free-roaming dog welfare around the world;

  •            Jointly hosting the 50th Anniversary meeting of International Society for Applied Ethology in Edinburgh, which was attended by a record 600 delegates; 

  •       Improving zoo veterinary skills in China, Japan and Indonesia through collaborations with Animals Asia and Wild Welfare;

  •       The continuing success of our free online course (MOOC) in Animal Welfare, and a new Dog & Cat MOOC to be launched in 2017;

  •       The graduation of more ‘online’ Masters students in Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law and an increase in our Animal Welfare Masters community to more than 150 each year;

  •       The delivery of animal welfare education to multiple partners around the world including China, India, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, USA, Canada and Spain.

Finally, we are extremely grateful to the Marchig Trust for providing the funding that supports the Centre’s work as an integrated unit within the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh.           

With our very best wishes and many thanks to you all,
from Professor Cathy Dwyer and the team at the
Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

November IAWEL MSc graduation ceremony

At the end of November we celebrated the graduation of our International Animal Welfare Ethics and Law MSc students. The graduation ceremony took place at the University of  Edinburgh’s beautiful Usher Hall and afterwards our graduates and their families were invited to a post-graduation drinks reception at the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh.

We very much enjoyed meeting up with our students, some of whom we had never met in person before due to the online nature of the MSc in International Animal Welfare Ethics and Law.  This year, graduate Jane Stirling was awarded the UFAW prize for the best dissertation for her thesis entitled: Does the cage-trapping of corvids cause unnecessary suffering? A behavioural study of trapped magpies (Pica pica).

The ceremony is a wonderful way to celebrate their achievements and we congratulate all our graduates, those that were able to attend the ceremony and those that could not make it to Edinburgh this time. We welcome the graduates into our growing IAWEL Alumni community and wish them all the best in whatever they do next. 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

JMICAWE has a new Director.

JMICAWE has a new Director

Following the departure of the inaugural Director of JMICAWE, Prof Natalie Waran, to a new job in New Zealand in September, we are delighted to announce that a new Director of the Centre has been  formally appointed.

Prof Cathy Dwyer has taken over the leadership of the Centre with effect from 1st December 2016. Cathy will combine the role with her continuing job as the head of the Animal Behaviour and Welfare research team at SRUC (Scottish Rural College). Cathy’s background has been as a research scientist specialising in livestock behaviour and welfare, as well as teaching on BSc and MSc programmes in animal behaviour and welfare. She is an expert in maternal behaviour in sheep and lamb survival, but also conducts research in behavioural development, animal pain and welfare assessment, particularly of extensively managed animals. She has supervised many BSc, MSc and PhD students in these fields. She was awarded the BSAS/RSPCA award for innovative developments in animal welfare in 2013 in recognition of her research in animal welfare. In addition to her research and teaching, Cathy is passionate about research making a difference to the lives of animals, and has worked with farmers, in participative projects, and given talks to the general public, participated in many science festival events and talked about animal welfare to school children.

Cathy has previously worked with Nat and others in the JMICAWE team on delivering workshops in livestock welfare in India and in running the 50th Anniversary meeting of the International Society for Applied Ethology in Edinburgh in July 2016. Her appointment to the Directorship will bring the SRUC research team and the education function of the Centre closer together to develop a strong presence in animal welfare at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus.

Cathy says, ‘It will be a hard act to follow Nat’s inspirational leadership of the Centre, but I am looking forward to the challenge of continuing her good work and of increasing the excellent reputation of the Centre globally’.

A very big welcome to Cathy, we look forward to working alongside you.   


Wednesday, 14 December 2016


New Delhi

JMICAWE has recently been involved in visits and workshops in New Delhi, India. Our new Director Professor Cathy Dwyer and Dr Marie Haskell visited Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in late November. Both Universities are engaged in developing animal welfare education opportunities for students in India. There are currently no university degrees covering animal welfare in India, and veterinary students receive only a few hours of training in animal welfare. We will be working with both Universities to help them develop teaching materials to address this issue. Whilst at IGNOU Cathy recorded a radio interview, for broadcast as part of the course on IGNOU’s dedicated radio channel, and both Cathy and Marie gave seminars on animal welfare and animal cognition at JNU attended by students, faculty and NGOs. This led to a lively debate on current welfare issues in India, particularly issues with stray dogs and stray cows. 

Cathy and Marie were then joined by SRUC scientists, Laura Dixon and Fritha Langford, to host a 2-day workshop at the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) on 1-2 December. We discussed concepts in animal welfare, the need for an evidence-based approach to animal welfare assessment and provided training in animal welfare science methods. This involved a ‘hands on’ session where the thermal imaging equipment sparked much hilarity about who was the coolest! After the workshop we spent a day visiting the ICAR dairy research centre to hear about some of the behaviour projects they are beginning to carry out there, and to discuss future collaborations. We are looking forward to hearing the outcomes of the cognition tests for buffalo calves!

We concluded the visit by a trip to a ‘gaushala’ which provides a home for non-productive stray cows. Cows are sacred to the Hindu religion, and Indian law prohibits the culling of cows. However, this means that elderly or non-productive animals are often left to roam the streets. Gaushalas collect these cows from the streets and volunteers work to worship and take care of them. We were greeted with garlands of marigolds, and took part in a ceremony to honour the cows with jaggery (palm sugar) and some ceremonial cleaning of the stables (in which we participated a little too enthusiastically in sweeping up). The visits ended with prayers in the shrine and a blessing from an old lady who has dedicated her life to worshipping cows.   


Monday, 12 December 2016

Send a Vet Nurse to Sri Lanka - project report

Two vets, 5 vet nurses and 1 Sri Lankan vet school

This month sees the return of our veterinary nurse Hayley Walters and vet Heather Bacon from their two week visit to Kandy, Sri Lanka where they led a team of three newly qualified veterinary nurses, one student veterinary nurse and one feline medicine vet.

The ‘Send a Vet Nurse to Sri Lanka’ project was a collaboration between the JMICAWE and the University of Peradeniya’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Sri Lanka’s only vet school.

The project involved fully integrating the vet nurse team into the teaching hospital in Sri Lanka and demonstrating to their Sri Lankan counterparts the invaluable support a well-trained VN has to offer in not only improving animal welfare but also the smooth-running of a hospital.

The VNs were professional, hardworking, compassionate and despite being either students or newly qualified, developed the confidence to teach and explain to the vet students there what they were doing and why.

Hayley said, “Sri Lanka has a few challenges when it comes to the veterinary profession: 1) one vet school is providing the education for every single vet in the country and they are incredibly busy and sometimes understaffed; 2) they don’t have trained, qualified veterinary nurses to provide the supportive care needed to ensure a high level of patient care. Many of the small animals that arrive at the hospital are badly injured in road traffic accidents or have complicated medical conditions, but with limited staff and resources, many of the animals are unable to receive the level of care they need as there are almost no staff dedicated to their daily needs”.

Currently in Sri Lanka, trained veterinary surgeons are responsible for all veterinary duties, from basic techniques such as blood sampling or bandaging, to complex surgical procedures. The vast scope of this workload is a challenge to the development of the profession, as excessive time is taken up with minor procedures, basic animal management, and logistics such as stock control, which would, in other parts of the world, normally be the responsibility of the veterinary nurse.

The 4 VNs fully immersed themselves in all aspects of hospital work including the inpatient area, anaesthetic monitoring, surgical patient preparation, handling, cleaning and physiotherapy. The evenings were spent delivering workshops to students and faculty members, clinical skills practise on models and manikins and protocol writing to improve patient care and the running of the hospital. The University had also invited the dog units of the Sri Lankan police, army, navy and air force to attend so outreach was larger than originally expected.

The University of Peradeniya’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science were impressed with what the vet nurses had to offer and all faculty members unanimously agreed to endorse a VN training programme and qualification.

Hayley has just finished writing a VN curriculum for the university to consider and we hope to see Sri Lanka’s first ever Veterinary Nurse Training Curriculum and Associated Diploma Level Qualification in the near future. We trust this will be a long and successful collaboration.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Judging animal welfare in the US

Judging Animal Welfare

The annual US Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Competition was held at Columbus in Ohio State in November this year, sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (

This is an initiative originally developed by Michigan State University and Purdue to engage undergraduate Animal Science students with Animal Welfare, and has now grown to include veterinary undergraduates and graduate students, with around 100 students from schools across USA and Canada taking part this year. Students reviewed two different scenarios for each of three different species management (meat sheep, laboratory guinea pigs and pedigree dogs) and one live scenario (poultry), and provided reasoning for why welfare was better in one situation compared to another. 

This year Prof Cathy Dwyer was one of the judges for the meat sheep scenarios, alongside animal scientists and veterinarians from Canada and the US, and also gave a guest lecture on welfare issues associated with sheep production. It was a fun, thought-provoking and exhausting weekend, with lots of intense debate about the welfare merits or costs of various practices, and Cathy was very impressed with the dedication and hard work of all the students and coaches, many of whom were students themselves. Listening to, and marking, the rapid fire delivery of 40 students, each explaining the welfare benefits of sheep scenarios in three minutes, was hard work but very rewarding to see so much attention to detail in thinking about animal welfare. Congratulations to the University of British Colombia on winning the overall best team trophy, and to all the other winners and runners-up for a close-fought competition with such impressive breadth of welfare thinking.    

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

New Director in France for animal welfare meeting

ESLAV 20th Anniversary Meeting focuses on Animal Welfare

The joint meeting of the European Society for Laboratory Animal Veterinarians (ESLAV) and the European College for Laboratory Animal Medicine (ECLAM) took place in Lyon in November, with the 3 day meeting focusing on animal welfare.

JMICAWE's new Director Prof Cathy Dwyer was an invited speaker in the session on understanding animal needs, presenting a paper which explained the impact of early life experiences for animals on their later stress responses, behaviour and welfare.

It was a stimulating meeting, with genuine concern for laboratory animal welfare and a desire to improve matters through the development of a ‘culture of care’ running from top to bottom in institutions involved in research. The meeting involved a line-up of excellent speakers including Prof Don Broom, Prof David Fraser, Dr Birte Nielsen, Dr Sarah Heath and Prof Paul Flecknell to name but a few, and was wide-ranging dealing with conceptual issues, animal sensory abilities, lessons which can be learnt from other species and future directions. 

Dr Nielsen reminded us that many animal species have very different sensory abilities to our own: seeing in wavelengths, vocalising at frequencies and having olfactory capabilities all of which differ from human perception. Dr Heath discussed welfare issues around companion animal lives, and how owners understanding of the welfare needs of their pets may fall short of reality. Prof Fraser concluded the meeting with an excellent presentation that drew on developments in One Welfare, and reminded us that the most important part of animal welfare was the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of the people who cared for animals.

The meeting stood out as one that engaged with animal welfare of laboratory, farm, zoo and companion animals in attempts to learn from the welfare messages developed by these different sectors.  

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

JMICAWE Vet recognised as inspirational Woman of STEM

Equate Scotland makes a positive difference for women in science, engineering, technology and the built environment.
Established in 2006, Equate Scotland is Scotland’s expert in gender equality throughout these fields. It makes a tangible and sustainable change, enabling women studying and working in these keys sectors to develop, by supporting their recruitment, retention and progression. Equate’s vision is of a progressive Scotland where women can contribute equally to advancements in science, engineering and technology and have fair access to the jobs of the future.
To this end, Equate have collated a few examples of inspirational women of past and current Scotland and JMICAWE were delighted that our own Heather Bacon was included in this listing. Heather said “It’s really important to champion the role of women in Science, and I’m incredibly honoured to be included with such inspirational women.”


Monday, 14 November 2016

International Deans' visit promotes veterinary education and animal welfare

At the beginning of November, the JMICAWE was delighted to host a 3 day workshop for visiting Deans from the Veterinary faculties of Cavite State University, Philippines; the University of the Philippines Los BaƱos; and the University of Bogor, Indonesia. The Deans were accompanied by Dr Daniel Ventura Jr, Dr Goy Satayaprasert and Dr Nancy Clarke, of World Animal Protection, who funded the trip.

After an incredibly successful visit comprising discussion, presentations, visits to the University farms, clinical and pre-clinical teaching facilities, the Deans left stating they felt ‘inspired’ to make changes within their own Universities aiming to enhance their educational teaching of veterinary undergraduates, and promoting concepts of animal welfare within their veterinary teaching.

Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE said “It was a wonderful visit and very positive for all of us. It was helpful for us to better understand the challenges some of our international colleagues face, and we hope to further develop our relationships through ongoing collaboration. We’re especially looking forward to hearing about the changes the Deans will implement on their return.”

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Sheep & Maple Syrup

Sheep and Maple Syrup

Professor Cathy Dwyer has just returned from a few days in Ontario, Canada, where she was the guest speaker at the Ontario Sheep Convention, held in Alliston, Ontario. Cathy spoke to nearly 200 sheep farmers and delegates about the science of ewe-lamb bonding, and how management could work with the natural behaviour of the ewe to improve lamb survival. She explained the biological processes that govern the onset of maternal care in sheep, and how the ewe is driven by hormonal changes around birth to develop a bond with her own lambs, and to reject others. Knowing the biology of the relationships can help farmers ensure that ewes and lambs are given the best chance to develop a strong mother-young relationship, which is good for sheep welfare and for farmer morale. In particular she emphasised giving the ewe time and space to show maternal behaviour without excessive human intervention.

Cathy was the guest of the Ontario Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, who organised the convention with the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency. Following the convention she visited a number of sheep farms, to see how Canadian farmers were dealing with the challenges of producing sheep in areas where temperatures can reach -40°C and coyote predation is a significant threat to sheep welfare. She met many of the guardian dogs that North American sheep farmers use to protect their flocks, and was impressed by the innovative and enthusiastic approach to sheep farming shown by many of the farmers.

Of course, no trip to Canada in the autumn would really be complete without sampling some of the (many) maple sugar products on offer, being amazed by the autumn colours in the trees and stunned by the incredible Hallowe’en decorations! 

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Dog Day at Vogrie Park - The Science behind the Wag

Dr Amy Miele from the JMICAWE team recently took part in a Midlothian Science Festival event entitled, ‘Dog Day: The Science Behind the Wag’, which was held at Vogrie Country Park on Sunday 9th October. The free event attracted hundreds of dog enthusiasts of all ages, who were able to get involved in hands on drop-in activities, workshops, agility and obedience demonstrations as well as an expert Q&A session. 

Members of the R(D)SVS, The Roslin Institute, Midlothian Dog Training Club, Dog’s Trust, Guide Dog’s Association, Canine Concern Scotland (Therapets) and All4paws came together to create an educational and fun-filled afternoon.

Activities focussed on understanding canine body language and emotions, with a ‘name the emotion’ task led by Benjamin Cross, R(D)SVS student and founder of the Dick Vet Animal Behaviour Society and a desensitisation workshop run by behaviour consultant and R(D)SVS lecturer in Clinical Animal Behaviour, Dr Amy Miele.  Amy was also one of the experts in the Q&A session (alongside trainer and behaviour advisor Julie Morrison from the Dog’s Trust and trainer Carol Mcdonald from the Midlothian Dog Training Club) , which was lively, stimulating and informative.

Event organiser Dr Heather McQueen from the University of Edinburgh and Midlothian Dog Training Club commented, ‘The event was a resounding success, people were genuinely fascinated by what the experts had to say and seemed really keen to utilise what they had learned to optimise their relationship with their dog’.

The event ended with the ‘Corridor of Temptation’, where owners were given the opportunity to show off their dog’s recall skills by asking them to run past a plethora of tempting treats and toys, including a plate of sausages and a rather life-like moving cat toy! While some dogs took the distractions in their stride and had eyes only for their handler, others were a little more curious, requiring the sausages to be replenished on a regular basis!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Promoting animal welfare and veterinary care in Chinese zoos

Promoting animal welfare and veterinary care in Chinese zoos

Earlier this year the JMICAWE built on a long-term collaboration with NGO Animals Asia, and the Chinese Association of Zoo Gardens delivering an advanced Veterinary training workshop to 80 zoo vets from collections across China.

Standards of veterinary training in China remain much lower than in the UK, and there currently is no further training available on the subject of zoological medicine, meaning that for thousands of zoo animals across China, even basic healthcare is a challenge. Building on the success of this relationship representatives from AAF and JMICAWE were invited to attend the inaugural meeting of the CAZG Education Committee in September, and will be moving forward to cooperate with the North Eastern Forestry University in China, and CAZG to develop a strategy for education in veterinary skills, animal behaviour and welfare across the Chinese zoo community.

“We know that zoos are controversial to many people”, said Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE, “but we also recognise that zoos are a reality for many animals around the world, and if we can provide zoo vets and keepers with the skills to deliver good standards of husbandry and veterinary care, we can dramatically improve the welfare of hundreds of thousands of animals”