Friday, 24 June 2016

Animal Behaviour & Welfare CPD event

JMICAWE organised a two day Animal Behaviour and Welfare CPD event last week. The event was aimed at veterinary nurse lecturers to help improve their teaching to the next generation of veterinary nurses (VNs) in dog and cat behaviour and animal welfare.

20 delegates from all over the UK enjoyed the CEVA sponsored event which was attended by VNs, VN lecturers, student VNs and vets.

Hayley Walters said, “Much needs to be done to improve veterinary education in animal behaviour. The event was inspired by speaking to several student VNs who didn’t feel confident in advising owners about problem behaviours in their pets at home. Some of them had also learned about dog and cat behaviour through external lectures or whilst in practice. This is worrying as not being able to recognise what an animal is saying to us through its body language or facial expressions can potentially be dangerous for the VN and also lead to a deterioration in welfare for the patient”.

The feedback from the delegates was very positive and we hope to run events like this again in the future.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

JMICAWE delivers Vet Ed workshop in Beijing

Vet Heather Bacon and vet nurse Hayley Walters have just returned from a 3 day veterinary education workshop in Beijing, China.

Organised in conjunction with Chinese veterinary education company ‘We Care Pet’, over 30 delegates (who were mostly vets) attended the event.  Anaesthesia, pain recognition, animal welfare, patient care and a hands-on clinical skills workshop were just some of the subjects that were taught. 

The subject which received the most positive feedback though was dog and cat behaviour. Almost no animal behaviour teaching is taught in Chinese vet schools despite it being of huge importance when it comes to improving welfare, recognising pain and noting if animals are improving or deteriorating in the clinic.

Prizes were given to the most outstanding delegates who demonstrated a huge willingness to increase their knowledge and improve patient care in their clinics.

Hayley said, “We were very impressed with the dedication the delegates showed to learning during this workshop and are hopeful that improvements to animal welfare will be made now they have returned home. An understanding in why an animal behaves the way it does and that body language and facial expressions are all forms of communication, is of paramount importance when treating animals. Too much focus is placed on teaching about physical health only when mental health is equally as important”.

Heather and Hayley will be returning to China later this month along with Professor Nat Waran to deliver another veterinary education workshop in Jilin, this time to veterinary lecturers.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Equid welfare study in Guatemala

One of our undergraduate students, Keana McCosh, is currently part-way through her trip to study pain recognition and assessment in working equids, thanks to a bursary from World Horse Welfare.

Follow the link below to read all about her worthwhile work at the Centre.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Please participate in an equine hoof care and health survey

Today's blog is on behalf of one of our MSc student.  In her words:-

“No hoof, No horse” as the old saying goes. Foot-related lameness can affect horses for a multitude of reasons but a healthy, sound hoof is essential for good horse welfare. My dissertation project (MSc) at the University of Edinburgh aims to understand the current attitudes and knowledge of equine hoof care. This survey is particularly aimed at horse owners and equine professionals (such as veterinarians and farriers). So if you work with horses or have an interest in horse care and health, then please complete the following short survey and feel free to share it among friends and colleagues. Thank you for your participation!

This is the link to the survey which is now open online and ready for responses:

Thank you for assisting HC with her dissertation.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Animal Behaviour & Welfare CPD Event 13 & 14 June 2016

JMICAWE's Hayley Walters is organising a two-day CPD event at the Dick Vet next week.  All veterinary nurses, trainers, lecturers and students are very welcome to attend, we have some excellent expert speakers including Dr Paula Boyden of Dogs Trust and Professor Danielle Gunn-Moore.  For more details and to book,

Monday, 30 May 2016

International Veterinary Students discuss their future roles in Animal Welfare

International Veterinary Students discuss their future roles in Animal Welfare

The first IVSA conference on Animal Welfare and the role of the vet took place earlier this month and the JMICAWE was pleased to be asked to support this event. The International Veterinary Students’ Association (IVSA) is a student run organisation that represents over 30,000 students from more than 50 different countries. IVSA works to bring veterinary students together through the exchange of ideas, knowledge and culture, by hosting annual symposia and congresses, supporting local and regional events, and facilitating international exchanges.

The conference was hosted by the University of Utrecht’s veterinary school and ran over three days, during which the students engaged in discussions about a wide variety of animal welfare related topics, as well as hearing from some eminent speakers (including our own JMICAWE director). Organised and run by the veterinary students at Utrecht, the conference was a great opportunity to witness just how professional these future vets are, and how passionate they are about wanting to move their field forward positively, and ensure that they address issues of animal welfare in an informed and constructive manner.

‘We were pleased to play a part in providing future veterinarians from various parts of the world with the opportunity to develop their understanding and gain knowledge of new thinking that will allow them to practice and promote high levels of animal welfare as they move forward in their careers’

Prof Nat Waran, JMICAWE Director

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Farewell to Dr Jill MacKay

Cut, Print, Moving On

There are some changes coming to the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education.  In June, our long-time collaborator from SRUC, Jill MacKay, will be moving to the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies for good to take up a new position as a research fellow in veterinary education.

Jill started her career at the University of Glasgow doing an M.Sci in Zoology. As part of her five year degree she did a year’s internship with the RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Hospital, working in wildlife rehabilitation and post-release monitoring. She was a regular volunteer with the RSPB, working in knowledge transfer for the hen harrier nesting project at Muirshiels Country Park. After finishing her degree in 2009, she joined the University of Edinburgh and what was then the Scottish Agricultural College to carry out her PhD investigating personality in cattle.

During her PhD, Jill continued to work in knowledge transfer and started teaching SAC undergraduates. She regularly participated in the Royal Highland Show and science festivals throughout Scotland. She worked with Wageningen University in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, for the final experiment of her PhD at their Dairy Research Centre.

After completing her PhD in 2013, Jill worked principally on knowledge transfer at SRUC on the Animal Welfare Indicators project and created bespoke continued professional development courses for IFAW with the centre. She was then a coordinator for the Animal Behaviour and Welfare Massive Open Online Course and worked with the Centre on a number of projects, including the World Animal Protection ‘Key Drivers in Veterinary Education’ workshops in Taiwan.

From 2014 Jill worked as the coordinator for our International Animal Welfare Ethics and Law MSc which saw its first MSc students graduate in 2015. In this role, Jill was able to use her experience in interdisciplinary research to the fore to help with the dissertation projects for students.

In Jill’s new role she’ll be joining the VMED division of the Vet School. VMED researches veterinary education in order to continue providing cutting edge tools for veterinary teaching at Edinburgh. She’s looking forward to getting to grips with the rest of the veterinary curriculum and bringing an interdisciplinary approach to the research. While Jill will no longer be working directly with the centre, she is already planning some collaborative research projects.

Jill says:
“I have loved my years with SRUC and my many secondments to the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education. They’ve given me loads of great opportunities, like working on the MOOC and travelling to Taiwan. I’m very excited to be starting this new research fellowship on a topic that I really got interested in because of my work with the Centre, and I’m delighted to continue working on this campus and with my amazing colleagues.”

We will all really miss Jill's enthusiasm and professionalism, but also know that happily she is not going far - thank you for your hard work at JMICAWE and all the very best in your new job, Jill.

Jill at Midlothian Science Festival, demonstrating the infrared camera

Jill at Wageningen Dairy Research Unit with one of the girls

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Indian vet students' perspective on animal welfare

This 10-minute YouTube video was produced by undergraduate students of Veterinary Sciences at Pondicherry in India

It really does show just how many diverse roles vets hold in India.  Enjoy.

Friday, 29 April 2016

EDCH partnership benefits animals and students

The Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home has a long-standing relationship with the R(D)SVS. Founded in 1883, the home offers shelter to any dog or cat needing a refuge, actively reuniting lost animals with their owners, and rehoming stray animals where possible. The Home also offers a unique teaching and learning experience for our vets of the future, allowing them access to understand more about dog and cat behaviour, health and welfare.

At the JMICAWE we’re very excited to be working with the EDCH on a new project in dog behaviour and handling, to support volunteers and new staff in their interactions with dogs at the shelter. This collaboration will allow staff and volunteers at the Home to further develop their skills in dog behavioural assessment, and provide students on our MSc and UG teaching programmes with experiences of ‘real-life’ shelter situations.

Additionally two of the JMICAWE staff, Hayley and Heather, are joining with other colleagues at the R(D)SVS as part of the University’s ‘Big Leap’ initiative to fundraise for the EDCH by climbing the equivalent height of the UK’s 3 peaks in 6 hours at the CSE. This will be a marathon 1 climb every 6 minutes per person for 6 hours! 

Please help us to support the great work of the EDCH, and sponsor us in this exhausting venture at

You can learn more about the EDCH at:

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

JMICAWE vet to speak at Nuremberg Conference 3-5 May on welfare indicators in zoo and aquaria species

Heather Bacon is giving a presentation at next week's Conference in Tiergarten Nuremberg on the "Assessment of Welfare of Marine Mammal Species in Zoological Parks".  Nuremberg Zoo is one of the largest zoological parks in Europe and is home to about 250 special of animals, including five species of marine mammals.

In co-operation with the European Parliament Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development, the workshop objectives are to review scientific studies relevant to assessment of wild animal welfare in zoos, and to evaluate to extent to which known indicators can be applied and adapted to evaluate welfare in a zoological park setting with a focus on marine mammals.

Follow this link for more information:-

Thursday, 21 April 2016

First IAWEL graduate's dissertation on cat behaviour published


Students undertaking the Masters degree in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law know that we have high hopes for them to publish their work if possible. We had our first ever graduates last November and we are pleased to report that less than six months later, we have the first full publication from a dissertation.

The programme team offer our hearty congratulations to IAWEL graduate Emma Desforges who has published her dissertation on improving housing environments for cats involved in feeding studies. She used her understanding of cat behaviour to develop an enrichment device from a set of household shelves. This allowed group-housed cats the opportunity to use vertical space, hide away from other cats and reduce agonistic behaviours.

You can access the paper using the following link:

Fig. 1

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Equine Welfare Conference - 20th April

JMICAWE's Director Professor Nat Waran and her colleague Gemma Pearson from the Royal (Dick) Vet Equine Hospital are both presenting at a conference tomorrow in Aberdeenshire highlighting the welfare challenges facing Scotland's equines.

Co-hosted by the British Horse Society Scotland, World Horse Welfare and the Scottish Government, the event is a sell-out, with delegates coming from right across the UK.  Professor Waran's talk " Are horses happy athletes?" and Gemma Pearson's presentation on horse handling, welfare and behaviour are both fully booked.

Shannon Horse Project - animal welfare in the traveller community

The following article appeared in February in ‘The Clare People’, a local newspaper in Shannon, Ireland.

Shannon Equine Research

Members of the Traveller community in Clare are set to participate in a major equine research project headed up by the Shannon Horse Project. Shannon Horse Project has teamed up with the University of Edinburgh in Scotland to carry out the study, which will look at the system used to assess a horse’s body condition. The body condition scoring system is a numerical scale used to evaluate the amount of fat on a horse’s body through visual and palpation appraisal. Based on a grading system, the scoring system is a good indicator of a horse’s general health.

Shannon woman Marie Rowland is currently studying for a Masters in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and is working with the project to complete her dissertation. Marie’s project supervisor is Dr Tamsin Coombs, (Programme Co-ordinator for the MSc) who coincidentally graduated from the University of Limerick in 1999 with a BSc (Hons) in Equine Science, before going on to further study at the University of Edinburgh.

The study consists of two parts; firstly, attitudes to body condition scoring and other equine issues were explored and secondly, the group condition scored their horses. This is the first scientific study to include Irish Travellers as participants in equine research. According to Marie, the Traveller community have a long history and tradition of keeping horses but there is little research or consultation with Traveller horse owners on equine related matters. Therefore, Traveller representation will provide scientific research with an innovative approach to equine health and welfare.

The research will be completed in April 2016.

Friday, 15 April 2016

JMICAWE Vet wins International welfare award

JMICAWE Vet wins International welfare award

The JMICAWE is delighted to announce that our own Heather Bacon is this year’s recipient of the Chris Laurence Vet of the Year award, sponsored by CEVA and the Veterinary Times
Heather leads education programmes to improve the care of animals around the world in her role as Veterinary Welfare Education and Outreach Manager in the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, and was selected for the award award in recognition of her commitment to the continued improvement of animal welfare.
Heather was also one of the final three vets shortlisted out of over 7,000 for the PetPlan vet of the year award.
Heather said “I’m delighted to receive this award – it’s a huge honour, in light of the amazing work being done by vets around the world. The CEVA welfare awards are a fantastic opportunity to showcase the hard work being done by a whole range of people from volunteers to professionals, all over the world and I’m so excited that animal welfare work is being increasingly recognised as important to the work of veterinary professionals.”

See Heather's interview here: