Monday, 27 April 2015

Animal Health and Welfare Collaboration agreement signed between Hong Kong Government and the University of Edinburgh

A two-day international workshop entitled "Applied Veterinary Research: Advancing Human & Animal Health and Welfare" concluded successfully in Hong Kong last week, with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) relating to veterinary education and research co-operation between the Hong Kong Government and the University of Edinburgh. The theme of the two day international workshop was how scientific discovery in the field of veterinary research can translate into clinical practice to benefit both animal and human welfare.

Co-organised by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (RDSVS), the meeting was attended by around 200 veterinary and medical officers and experts from a variety of backgrounds including international animal health organisations, overseas and Mainland veterinary authorities, universities, animal welfare organisations, and Hong Kong government departments. Speakers comprised scientists and experts from the University of Edinburgh’s RDSVS and Roslin Institute, as well as experts from Mainland China, the University of Hong Kong and the AFCD.

This was the first time that the Hong Kong Government’s AFCD had collaborated with a world class overseas institution to bring together local and international experts to discuss recent advances in veterinary research and the translation of research results into clinical practice to benefit humans and animals.

As part of this occasion, The William Dick Memorial Lecture was given outside of Edinburgh for the first time. The Memorial lecture is given to commemorate the life and work of the founder of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, who was born in 1793, and who established the affectionately named Dick Veterinary School in 1823 in Edinburgh. Delegates at the workshop were delighted to hear Professor David Argyle, (BVMS PhD DECVIM-CA (Oncology) MRCVS), the William Dick Professor of Veterinary Clinical Studies and Head of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, present on; Bridging basic science and clinical medicine for improving animal health and welfare.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation, Mr Alan Wong, said,

 "The presentations over the past two days of the workshop have been interesting and thought-provoking. The discussions on the topic of 'One World - One Health' and how collaboration between different professionals may produce synergistic benefits have been productive."

Reflecting on the two day’s of talks and discussions that took place in Hong Kong, International Associate Dean for the RDSVS, Professor Nat Waran,  stated;

‘This international workshop has enabled us to explore not just our existing knowledge but to discover new opportunities for international collaboration and knowledge transfer, for ensuring the exponential growth in technologies and our understanding is translated into improvements in the health and welfare of animals and humans“

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Forty Years on from the Publication of ‘Animal Liberation’- A Talk by Professor Peter Singer

What a lucky coincidence for JMICAWE’s Nat Waran, to be in Hong Kong whilst Princeton University professor Peter Singer was in town to give a number of talks as part of the Hong Kong Literary Arts festival.

Often described as the world’s most influential living philosopher, he has been challenging our assumptions about the world we live in and our attitudes towards animals since the release of his now-classic book Animal Liberation in 1975.
Entitled "Ethics and Animals: Forty years after Animal Liberation", Prof Singer considered how well the arguments of the book have stood up to critical examination, and what interesting questions remain, reviewing the progress that has been made - or has not been made - in changing attitudes and practices regarding animals.  
Nat was in Hong Kong attending a conference that was jointly organised by the JMICAWE and the Hong Kong Government, which you'll find out more about in our next blog! This was truly a great opportunity for her to hear and then to get to meet a man who has been so influential in challenging us about animals and their rights. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Can we more effectively assess pain in the animals we care for?

On Friday, May 8th 2015, Dr Matt Leach will be coming to R(D)SVS from Newcastle University to give a talk on assessing pain in animals, entitled 'Can we more effectively assess pain in the animals we care for?'

Matt completed our MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour & Welfare and a PhD in Laboratory Animal Welfare at the University of Birmingham. For the last 10 years, his research has focused on developing effective means of assessing pain in a range of animals, including laboratory, companion and farm species. Currently, he is a full-time lecturer and researcher in animal welfare at Newcastle University and a part-time animal welfare lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. 

Pain in animals is of considerable public concern. Pain compromises not only animal welfare, but also raises considerable ethical concern. In order to successfully alleviate pain, we need to be able to assess its severity and duration effectively. In this talk, we will discuss the effectiveness of both the routinely used (i.e. clinical signs) and new (i.e. behaviour and facial expressions) methods for assessing pain in animals.  
We are really looking forward to hearing about Matt’s research and his work on animal welfare.
Don’t forget that our Spring Newsletter 2015 is now available and can be viewed by clicking on this link -

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Hayley Walters Achieves a Second Award for Welfare Contributions

We are thrilled to announce that JMICAWE Team Member Hayley Walters has been awarded CEVA Veterinary Nurse of the Year 2015.

You may remember from a previous blog that the JMICAWE was visited by a camera team from CEVA to make a short video on Hayley and all the work she has done as part of her role in the team and as an anaesthesia veterinary nurse. She attended an awards ceremony in Birmingham last week, where the video was shown, and beat all of the competition to achieve her second award in a year, following her success in winning the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Veterinary Nurse Golden Jubilee Award last summer.

Whilst in Birmingham, Hayley attended her first BSAVA International Affairs Committee meeting and raised concerns relating to the use of live animals in teaching clinical and surgical skills to veterinary students in developing countries. She also highlighted the need for a veterinary nurse education programme in developing countries to raise the standard of inpatient care. These concerns will be taken, with a report, to the WSAVA annual conference in Bangkok in May this year. Hayley was invited on to this committee earlier this year by its chair Ross Allan and is the first veterinary nurse ever to become a member.
We are sure you’ll join us in congratulating Hayley on another amazing achievement!

Don’t forget that our Spring Newsletter 2015 is now available and can be viewed by clicking on this link -

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Animal Welfare highlighted at the 6th Pan Commonwealth Veterinary Conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - March 2015

JMICAWE Director Prof Nat Waran has recently returned from Kuala Lumpur where she was invited to attend and present on companion animal welfare at the 6th Pan Commonwealth Veterinary conference, co-hosted by the Malaysian Veterinary Association.

Five hundred and fifteen (515) registered participants attended the conference and of these, 125 were international participants from 44 countries. The conference was opened by the Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, of the Government of Malaysia, Dato' Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. 
The theme of the conference was,  “Providing Holistic Solutions to Changing Global Challenges – Threats and Opportunities for Veterinarians” and the JMICAWE was fortunate to be invited to be the joint organiser of the one day ‘Animal Welfare’ session within this.
Speakers from various countries, including Malaysia, gave interesting presentations about advances in animal welfare education, practise and research. At the end of the session, a panel discussion took place to identify the key points for ensuring high standards of welfare throughout the Commonwealth member countries, through veterinary organisations and Universities as well as Government ministries. These included the need for relevant, credible and accessible animal welfare education to inform best practice, something that the JMICAWE is extremely well placed to help facilitate.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

JMICAWE Spring 2015 Newsletter Now Available!

We are excited to announce that The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education's Spring 2015 Newsletter is available NOW!

It provides a summary of some of the highlights of our activities since Autumn last year and can be viewed by clicking on the link below. We hope that you enjoy it and that it is of interest to you!

If you wish to know more about our activities, please feel free to follow us @JMICAWE on Twitter and also on Facebook:

If you would like to join our mailing list to receive our newsletters by e-mail, please send an email to with the subject as 'Join Mailing List'.

Don't forget to watch our fantastic short film, 'Street Dog', available by clicking the link below:

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Vet Students Choosing Welfare

A group of final year veterinary students at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies spent three weeks of March partaking in the CEVA Animal Behaviour and Welfare elective run by the JMICAWE team. In their final year of study, the students get to choose electives which specialise in certain areas relating to veterinary medicine, and we were thrilled that our group chose to learn more about Animal Welfare and Behaviour over the other topics on offer to them.
The elective was a mixture of taught and practical studies, including guest speakers from animal health company CEVA (who very kindly sponsored the course) and pet behaviour specialist Positive Imprint. The students took classes on pain and animal behaviour, pharmacotherapeutics, the animal ethics dilemma, the use of an interactive rat as opposed to a live one in a laboratory and a wide range of other modules covering different species of animal and different behaviour and welfare issues.
A number of day trips were also included in the elective to allow students to see the application of the animal behaviour and welfare topics being discussed; they were able to assess the behaviour of cats and dogs in a shelter, explore the welfare of animals at Edinburgh Zoo and research the welfare of farm animals.
The students responded very well to the course, engaging with all aspects and topics, and here are some of their thoughts…
“On practical veterinary sessions, there have been questions asked by clients that I couldn’t answer as I didn’t know very much about behavioural problems and how to deal with them. I now feel in a much better position to do so!”
“The course has really changed the way I think about an animal, especially when it comes to assessing pain”
“It’s only one step to recognise behavioural or welfare problems an animal is experiencing: it’s something else to actually treat those”
“I really enjoyed learning about new research that challenges concepts that have been taught as fact for the last fifty years”

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

JMICAWE Help to Promote Scientific Approach to Dog Population Management

Last week’s conference on Dog Population management was a great success for the team at the JMICAWE. As well as successful presentations by Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE and Lindsey Hartley-Backhouse, MSc student on the International Animal Welfare, ethics and Law programme, we were also pleased to see the launch of the new guide to assessment of success in dog population management interventions: “Are we making a difference? A guide to monitoring and evaluating dog population management interventions”

The guide, authored by Dr Elly Hiby, Scientific coordinator of the International Companion Animal Management Coalition (ICAM), was developed with input from staff at the JMICAWE and SRuC, and is a comprehensive guide to evaluating success in terms of dog population measurements, dog welfare and human-animal relationships.


You can download it from the 'downloads' tab on the ICAM Co website. ICAM have also made a tool to help people navigate the document and create their owned tailored version - this is still a protype and is being updated, but once fully functional, looks to be very useful.

With dog populations a global concern in terms of environmental and zoonotic disease issues, evidence-based approaches to dog management are an essential new area of research. By promoting a scientific approach to what has traditionally been seen merely as ‘spay-neuter or ‘trap-neuter-return’ we can utilise a considerable variety of different and holistic strategies, and manage dog populations with more successful and humane outcomes.

If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t forget to watch our fantastic short film, ‘Street Dog’ which looks at the welfare of those dogs involved in ‘trap-neuter-return’ programs, and can be found on youtube here;

Don't forget to let us know what you think, by commenting on the video or on our Facebook or twitter pages!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Street Dog – Edinburgh contributes to Animal Welfare and Dog Population Management

You may remember from a previous blog( that Hayley Walters and Heather Bacon from JMICAWE have recently been involved in a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programme for street or ‘community’ dogs.

This week Heather is attending the 2nd International Conference on Dog Population Management to present new research on the welfare assessment of dogs in spay-neuter programmes. The research has highlighted that to adequately assess welfare it is essential that staff involved in spay-neuter programmes are well-trained in recognising dog behaviours – especially pain behaviours which may be common even when analgesics are used.

Some of the challenges faced by dogs on the street and the work done by those involved in TNR programmes are highlighted in the fantastic new JMICAWE short film, ‘Street Dog’, which can be viewed by clicking on the link below;

Two of our Online MSc International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law students are also attending the conference: Lindsay Hartley-Backhouse and Barbara Lautenbach. Lindsay is presenting at the conference, using her experience gained through the MSc programme to share her experiences on her educational work on combating myths surrounding rabies in Thailand. Both Lindsay and Barbara hope to further expand their experiences in the area of dog population management through their MSc dissertation projects.

Please share our ‘Street Dog’ film and help us to spread the word about the welfare of companion animals living on the streets- and of course, let us know what you think!
Twitter -  @JMICAWE

Monday, 2 March 2015

The Truth about Cats and Dogs – ‘Street Dog’ and our MOOC!

Last week, week three of our Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Animal Behaviour and Welfare discussed some of the welfare challenges that our companion animals face, and what we can do to improve their quality of life.

Those who are currently enrolled in the programme have added a further 20,000 + students to the 34,000 that took part in the MOOC last summer, thus creating a huge online community spanning 160 countries to learn about and discuss animal welfare. If you want to join, it’s not too late – sign up here!

In ‘The Truth about Cats and Dogs’, JMICAWE’s Hayley talked us through how we can better understand the physical and emotional needs of our cats and dogs and how these are influenced by the way we choose to care for them. The course also looked at the increase in issues with stray, abandoned and cruelly treated animals, and how the way we manage these issues can affect not only the welfare of the individual animal but its relationship with human society.


In the MOOC this week we will be discussing production animal welfare- entitled ‘Down on the Farm’, with Fritha. We hope to see you there, and as always please feel free to get in touch on social media whilst you’re taking part in the course on-


Twitter - @JMICAWE using #EdAniWelf and #animalwelfare

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

International Partnership agreement for advancement of animal production, health and welfare signed between University of Edinburgh and ICAR
An exciting collaboration has been agreed between the University of Edinburgh and the Government of India’s Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), which was signed at a two day workshop on production animal health and welfare held in Delhi last week.
With the world population set to rise to 9 billion by 2050, and an expected significant increase in meat consumption, meeting the future demand for safe, sustainable and affordable livestock products is a high priority. As this need for greater animal production rises, it is important to recognise the critical relationship between poor standards of animal health and welfare, reduced animal productivity and human health. With a population of 1.3 billion people and home to 600 million livestock animals and rising, India is expected to be one of the countries with a substantial increase in the amount of meat they eat; as such, this is a highly important topic for the future of Indian agriculture.
The objective of last week’s two-day international workshop, which was co-organised by ICAR and the University of Edinburgh, through the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, was to discuss and develop collaborative research and education opportunities that will lead to improved animal production, health and welfare. Over sixty ICAR scientists met with veterinary institutes and associated Universities at this stimulating event, alongside ten academics from Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Roslin Institute and Scotland’s Rural College including chief guest Professor James Smith (Edinburgh University’s International Vice Principal) and JMICAWE’s Director, Professor Nat Waran.
The knowledge exchange activity provided fruitful discussion, not only on future research collaborations but also on the use of new technologies in helping to improve animal resistance to disease, the enhancement of sustainable animal productivity, methods to improve production animal welfare and also on capacity building through education. It was agreed that through international partnership, Indian veterinary and animal science training can be strengthened to provide the well-qualified skilled and animal welfare educated researchers and veterinarians needed to serve the ever-evolving needs of the animals and people of India.

Sustainability is key to success, and at the workshop held at the ICAR headquarters on the 16th and 17th February, a Memorandum of Understanding was co-signed by the Vice-Principal of the University of Edinburgh and the Director General of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, cementing what will be a long and fruitful relationship to benefit Indian production animal health and welfare research and veterinary education over the coming years.
We are very much looking forward to working closely with our Indian colleagues to collaborate in key strategic research and education areas, to advance livestock production and health, whilst integrating raised awareness of the methods and necessity for improving standards of animal welfare.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Lights, Camera, Action! – Hayley Walters in the Spotlight

The JMICAWE was visited this week by a team from CEVA to film a short interview with Hayley Walters as she has been nominated for CEVA Welfare Nurse of the Year Award, further to her Golden Jubilee award last year for outstanding contribution to Veterinary Nursing.

Hayley Walters splits her time between JMICAWE, where her work has taken her around the world as she tries to improve the welfare of animals used by trainee vets, and the Small Animal Hospital at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies where she works as an anaesthesia nurse.

It may surprise some of you to learn that around the world, particularly in Asia, trainee vets are practising a multitude of procedures on live animals that don’t require the treatment. Some of these procedures include basic clinical skills such as blood taking, suturing and more invasive surgical procedures such as orthopaedic surgery which can cause serious lasting damage to an animal when performed repeatedly and often incorrectly. Hayley and Heather have presented to some of these veterinary schools using our manikins to show how these procedures can be taught and practised without using live animals, along with more general veterinary training in pain management and hospitalised patient care.


Hayley has also assisted Animals Asia on their Moon Bears project (which you may remember from a previous blog) and in Thailand with dogs being rescued from the dog meat trade amongst her international animal welfare work.

Domestically, Hayley works as a Veterinary Nurse specialising in anaesthesia, taking her own cases and also teaching students about anaesthesia and analgesia.

With all of this incredible work behind her, we certainly think she’s gone the extra mile to help improve the lives of animals around the world and it’s not difficult to see why Hayley has been nominated to receive the Welfare Nurse of the Year Award. The winner will be announced at the CEVA Welfare Awards on Wednesday 8th April and we wish her all the best!

You can see Hayley in action for yourself by signing up to our FREE Animal Behaviour and Welfare MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) – at present we have over 19,500 people signed up from 160 countries around the world. A short article on the MOOC numbers, taken from the first time the course was run last summer, is available here;

And if you’d like to join the MOOC yourself and contribute towards an improved understanding of Animal Behaviour and Welfare around the world, you can sign up for free by following this link;

Please note that if you wish to use this course for your CPD that it is best to sign up to Signature Track so that your coursework can be tied to your learning identity.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

4 DAYS TO GO - Sign up today! FREE Animal Welfare and Behaviour MOOC Course


Don't forget our popular MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) course will be starting on the 9th February. It's not too late to sign up.


Are you a native Mandarin Chinese or Spanish speaker? This time we will have an option to watch the videos translated into your native language and we hope this will be useful.

Further enrichment: We will also be adding an optional unassessed week to the course to cover supplementary topics that might be of interest.

This is a free course.  Sign up today:



Animal welfare is often an emotive subject provoking heated debates and sometimes radical action. However it is also a challenging science based subject that involves consideration of animal emotions and how we can best understand the world from the perspective of a different species.

Through a free online course, animal behaviour and welfare experts from the Jeanne Marchig International Animal Welfare Centre at the University of Edinburgh, will provide knowledge and understanding about the application of animal behaviour and the science of animal welfare. This will ensure that viewers are better equipped to argue for or against a specific issue relating to animal care, management or use, using a rigorous, evidence based approach.

Jill MacKay, Hayley Walters, Natalie Waran, Heather Bacon, and Fritha Langford (L to R) and dogs Stewart, Muthie and Matthilda (L to R)

During the course of the 6 week period, viewers will be provided with a real world view of animal welfare and the work of the animal welfare researcher, as well as interactive sessions and discussion on topics ranging from; why animal welfare matters from a global perspective, how science can help to advance animal welfare, why animal feelings are central to animal welfare, to the truth about dogs and cats, the ethics and welfare of keeping animals in zoos and how we can deal with farm animal welfare problems.

Animal welfare often means different things to different people, and opinions are varied and debates often heated. But if we are to achieve higher standards of animal welfare worldwide, we need to be able to rely on more than our emotional response. We need to provide scientifically validated evidence that will help persuade those with competing agendas and from different parts of the world where animals and their needs are less well recognised, that animal welfare matters, not just to animals but also for human wellbeing. Providing credible and accessible animal welfare education such as this free online course, will help to provide knowledge and understanding that can be used to more convincingly argue for animals, the important role they play in many aspects of our lives and the importance of ensuring that their welfare needs are met’

Professor Nat Waran, Director Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education


The Coursera Partnership

These Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are being delivered via the Coursera partnership - a network of leading international universities which offer short undergraduate-level online courses free of charge.

If you are interested in the School's MOOCs, more information can be found on the Coursera website where you can also sign up for the courses.


Monday, 2 February 2015

JMICAWE Team Member Hayley Walters on shortlist for Ceva Welfare Award

Ceva has announced the shortlist for its annual animal welfare awards, which this year attracted more nominations than ever.

In JMICAWE, we are delighted that  our very own  team member Hayley Walters has been shortlisted for this prestigious award out of hundreds of entries.

The awards, now in their fourth year, recognise those who have gone the extra mile to help better the lives of animals around the world, be they veterinary professionals, volunteers or charity workers.

All the award winners will be announced at a ceremony  in Birmingham on April 8.
Read more about it here: