Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Jeanne Marchig Animal Behaviour and Welfare MOOC - Always Online


We have some exciting news about our Animal Behaviour and Welfare MOOC on Coursera.

Coursera have started to offer On-Demand courses, where the material is always available and students can sign up at any time. The University of Edinburgh’s EdiVet course is already offered in the On-Demand format, so if you haven’t explored that course yet, you no longer have to wait for a session to be run.
The Jeanne Marchig team has been working hard behind the scenes to convert Animal Behaviour and Welfare to the On-Demand version, and we will launch the course on the 12th October, 2015!

What does this mean for you?

The Animal Behaviour and Welfare materials will always be available to students of the On-Demand course.
Students will be able to sign up at any time and complete the course in their own time.
Statements of Achievement (free) and Course Certificates (paid) will still be available for students who complete the course.
We’re really excited about this development and the innovations Coursera are bringing to the MOOC format.
You can’t sign up to the course until it goes live, so remember to follow us @JMICAWE, follow our blog, and put a note in your diary to come to the course on the 12th October!
You can still use the #EdAniWelf  hashtag to tell us what you think about the new On-Demand system.
And just for our blog readers we have a behind the scenes preview of what the On-Demand course will look like:

The Animal Behaviour and Welfare Front Page
The New Course Introduction
New Video Format


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Positive Emotions in Horses; ISES Conference 2015 Canada

This August, JMICAWE Centre Director, Professor Nat Waran was invited to speak at the UBC in Vancouver, at the 11th International Society for Equitation Science Conference. This was the first time that the conference has taken place in Canada and there was a good turn out of around 170 delegates from various parts of the world. This included three students who have been studying equine behaviour and welfare through the Edinburgh online programmes.

The Conference theme was about breaking barriers and bridging gaps- between scientists and riders/coaches, and the practical demonstrations by internationally acclaimed riders and trainers in a range of disciplines provided the opportunity to look at the application of an evidence based approach to a range of equestrian disciplines.

Professor Waran gave her talk on the second day, addressing the issue of whether its possible to determine if a horse is a happy athlete. This complemented some great presentations covering diverse topics such as; equine stress behaviours in therapy horses, problems with use of the whip in horse-racing and physiological and behavioural responses of horses to wither scratching when under saddle.
The International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) was founded in 2007 by a group of scientists, psychologists, veterinarians, and animal behaviourists united in their desire to promote equine well-being through promoting an evidence-based, scientific approach in horse training and to ensure that the techniques used are based on what we know about horse behaviour and learning, as well as being effective.
Prof Waran is a co-founder of the field of equitation science, and the very first workshop was held in Edinburgh at the veterinary school in 2004, and a successful international conference in 2012. The next ISES conference will be held in Saumur in France in June 2016.

You can read more about this year's conference via the following link;

Pet Therapy: Scientists delving into what makes a healthy and happy horse


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Crate Escape – Dog Trafficking in the News

Scottish readers may have spotted JMICAWE’s Heather Bacon in the Sunday Mail at the end of last month, as she was asked to give an interview on the dog meat trade in Asia which has hit the international headlines recently following the Yulin Festival earlier in the year. Heather has witnessed first-hand some of the practices that go on in Asia to obtain, transport and kill these dogs, and was asked to talk about it after a report was released by our partner Animals Asia on the illegal dog meat trade.

You may recognise Heather and Hayley’s own dogs, Stewart, Mothi and Matilda (pictured below) who were rescued from the dog meat trade when Heather and Hayley worked over in Asia a few years ago.

You can read the full article by clicking on this link;

You can keep up-to-date with all of the centre's news by liking our Facebook page or following us on Twitter!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

A Dog's Perspective

We’re really excited to bring you a new short film, A Dog’s Perspective, on YouTube.

The idea behind this video comes from our undergrad veterinary students at the Royal (Dick) Veterinary School and they shot and directed the video themselves after completing their final year animal welfare elective module.

Our students recognised that the veterinary clinic can sometimes be a frightening and alarming place for our companion animals and wanted to make a video that could highlight some simple and effective changes to the clinic that can improve the experience for our companion animals.

Carrie Aitken, the video’s director, had this to say:

Veterinarians are sworn to protect and uphold the welfare of animals under their care. It is easy to allow the importance of a patient’s physical health overshadow that of their mental and emotional wellbeing. I wanted to make this video to help us see the world through a dogs’ point-of-view so that we may improve the welfare of our pets in veterinary practice.

To do this I have highlighted the key areas of a veterinary practice from the point-of-view of a dog and provided some suggestions as to how to improve the patient experience.

I hope you enjoy the video and take a moment to consider how the world is experienced through the eyes of our canine companions. 

It’s great to see the next generation of veterinarians thinking about the animal’s experience in the clinic and putting animal welfare front and centre. A big thank you to Carrie and her colleagues for sharing this video with us, and congratulations on your graduation! We know you’ll go on to do great things.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Chinese Deans Visit JMICAWE in Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh has been working with the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) since 2013 when we signed a unique agreement enabling both parties to collaborate on innovative veterinary research and educational programmes.  The agreement - the first between the CVMA and a UK university – also aimed to promote and strengthen the role of the vet in China, particularly in the area of animal welfare. 

Since 2013 this agreement has been supported by a range of innovative veterinary educational initiatives including the delivery of a Massive Open-access Online Course, with video tutorials subtitled in mandarin, and co-organising the animal welfare education stream at the annual China Veterinary Conference – delivering animal welfare CPD directly to Chinese veterinary practitioners.
Continuing this body of work, last week we were delighted to host the Deans and senior Professors from China’s three top Veterinary schools: China Agricultural University, Nanjing Agricultural University, and the Inner Mongolia University, plus colleagues from the CVMA at a workshop on “International Veterinary Education and Animal Welfare”, here at the Royal (Dick) school of Veterinary studies. The Deans interacted with a range of clinical, research and academic staff, and focussed on the ways in which robust research, teaching and practice of good animal welfare supports excellence in veterinary education. Of particular interest was the investment the R(D)SVS has made in promoting the use of non-animal alternatives in the veterinary curriculum, and the Chinese delegation were particularly interested in this practical approach to promoting good animal welfare whilst also supporting an excellent learning environment.

The trip, funded by World Animal Protection, also allowed the delegation to visit the Royal Veterinary College in London, and to meet with John Blackwell, President of the British Veterinary Association, to discuss the role of the vet in safeguarding animal health and welfare, both nationally and internationally.
Animal Welfare is of increasing importance within the Chinese veterinary curriculum, having recently been incorporated into the final undergraduate veterinary examinations, but is often still poorly understood as a robust, and evidence-based subject. The use of live animals in teaching is widespread across Chinese Universities, and such practices may undermine theoretical welfare teaching, as well as decreasing student empathy for animals.
Collaborations such as this one are important in promoting animal welfare as a rational and science-based subject, essential for global trade and food security. In addition the positive relationships, educational workshops and teaching exchanges developed by the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, at the University of Edinburgh, are helping to support the integration of practical and welfare-friendly alternatives into the Chinese veterinary curriculum, as well as championing the role of the veterinarian as an international ambassador for good animal welfare.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Animal Welfare and Free Dog Training - Useful Links

We are always looking for interesting discussions and news articles online - which you might have seen if you have 'Liked' us on Facebook!
We recently came across these two - firstly, a series of videos from The Animal Welfare Foundation's 2015 Discussion Forum, easy to access and covering topics such as 'The Science of Slaughter' and 'Companion Animal Population Management'- find out more here:
And speaking of Companion Animals, we also found this great and FREE online resource to do with dog training... it's definitely worth a look! We hope you find these interesting and useful :)

Monday, 29 June 2015

Animal Welfare Science: An IFAW Workshop

This month Nat, Heather and Fritha from The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education and Scotland's Rural College were delighted to visit Cape Cod and the headquarters of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Azzedine Downes, President and CEO of IFAW attended the workshop

JMICAWE and IFAW have already established a strong partnership through collaborative teaching initiatives on our online MSc in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law, and the development of an interactive foundation course on animal welfare and ethics which has now been rolled out to all IFAW staff. This course was designed to develop a consistent level of knowledge about animal welfare science, and a common understanding of IFAWs ethics. If you are interested in our Master's programme, more can be found here:
Our recent visit to Boston built upon this successful initiative to bring a greater depth of analysis and evaluation to IFAWs campaigns and position statements and to emphasise the importance of a solid scientific foundation when developing animal welfare policy and campaigns. Topics covered included ‘evidence-based arguments and why they matter’, ‘good and bad science’, and ‘writing effective science-based communications’.
Additionally participants had the opportunity to explore their own personal ethics and discover the commonalities that have evolved into a cohesive ethical stance for IFAW. Feedback from IFAW staff has been very positive, recognising that the workshop allowed for critical analysis of IFAW’s positions and reaffirmation of beliefs in the work done by IFAW.
We feel very priviledged to have been able to run this workshop in collaboration with IFAW and would like to thank everyone who helped to make it such a success.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Replacement, Reducation and Refinement; Laboratory Animal Welfare Symposium 2015

Each year, the University of Edinburgh holds a Laboratory Animal Welfare and Alternatives Symposium. This takes its inspiration from the concept of ‘The 3Rs’: Replacement, Reduction and/or Refinement, with the aim of removing animals from laboratories or at the very least ensuring they experience good welfare.

This year’s symposium was held in the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine’s Chancellors building and was a great success. More than 100 staff and students attended to hear some extremely interesting talks, ranging from refinements in rodent housing to an enlightening presentation on where research animal use can be reduced through better scientific methodologies.

Two poster presenters won awards presented by Prof Nat Waran of the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare, and Dr Lesley Penny, Director of Veterinary Scientific services. These represented what the judges felt were the best (of some really good posters) scientist and technician contribution to improving animal welfare through replacement, reduction and or refinement in their daily work.
The staff in Veterinary Scientific services who organised the symposium were pleased that it was so well attended and want to thank all those who put in posters for the 3Rs/welfare prizes. This represented a lot of work and there were some really interesting studies and proposals that will impact the welfare of animals at a local level and further afield. The mix of talks was excellent, informative and challenging in equal measures and it was great to see a mixture of animal unit staff and scientists in the audience including some very senior academics supporting the event. Roll on 2016!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Send a Veterinary Nurse to India Project gets underway

The nursing of patients whilst they are sick or recuperating in hospital is of huge importance for ensuring all their needs are met and that their welfare doesn’t suffer. Nursing doesn’t just involve giving medication, changing dirty bedding and providing food for an animal, it is also about ensuring the patient is treated as an individual and given everything it needs, not just for its physical wellbeing but also its mental wellbeing. Taking the time to comfort and befriend a frightened animal, or simply groom or play with a long term inpatient is just as important as keeping its intravenous fluids running or administering antibiotics.

Sadly, in many countries, the nursing of animals is low down on the hospital’s priorities and many animals are left unintentionally neglected. Little time is spent observing the animal and therefore changes in behaviour, which could indicate pain or fear, go unnoticed. The opportunity to toilet out of the kennel area is often not given, tipped over water bowls go unreplenished, uneaten food may be summed up as in appetence rather than a preference for something else, soiled bedding (if provided) remains unchanged and behavioural needs, such as hiding, are overlooked. The animal becomes nothing more than a ‘tick list’ of duties rather than an individual character with preferences and personal needs.

In November this year JMICAWE’s Hayley Walters and Heather Bacon will be taking 8 student veterinary nurses from Edinburgh Napier University to 2 vet schools in Kerala in India to promote the value and importance of veterinary nursing. Over the course of 2 weeks the student veterinary nurses will help to demonstrate how good nursing improves patient care which in turn speeds up recovery times due to the provision of a comfortable environment, good nutrition, appropriate pain relief and lots of TLC.

The ‘India expedition team’ met up last month for a team building day at The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, which involved a tour of the small animal hospital, presentations from Hayley, Heather and the student nurses, an interactive problem solving session and appropriately finished with a meal in an Indian restaurant in Edinburgh.

The long term plan for this project is to not only improve patient welfare through the caring profession but to eventually develop a veterinary nursing curriculum and qualification at the 2 vet schools in Kerala; something which will be of great value to the vets, veterinary students and, most importantly, the animals, when it happens.


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Excellence in Santiago: Shelter Medicine for Street Animals

A recent trip to Santiago, Chile, has highlighted the many challenges that street dogs face. However there are organisations working tirelessly to improve the quality of life of many dogs on the street.


Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE with Dr Ariel of Stuka, and the team from the Universidad Andres Bello


Stuka is a charitable dog shelter organisation that focuses on providing shelter dogs with a good quality of life through group housing, medical care and regular exercise opportunities. The dogs are prepared for adoption by training in basic obedience using positive reinforcement techniques and regular ‘adoption days’ mean that their time spent in the shelter in minimised. There is even an on-site groomer to ensure that all the dogs look their best for any prospective new owners!
A Dog Exercise area with Grooming Station in the background
The shelter is funded entirely by charitable donations, but offers a world-class level of shelter medicine and care.
Some dogs within the shelter are un-homeable due to severe medical or behavioural problems but these dogs receive additional staff time and attention to ensure that their needs are met.

Two staff provide physiotherapy for a dog with impaired mobility
Heather of the JMICAWE said, “So often we see shelters run by organisations or people with good intentions and a desire to help animals, but in many cases, these good intentions don’t translate into good animal welfare and problems of confinement and deprivation are common in many shelters. Stuka is an inspiring organisation, engaged in actively rehoming as many dogs as possible, and ensuring that the dogs housed there are well prepared for their new lives as pets”

Friday, 5 June 2015

Improving Welfare for Zoo Animals in Chile

You may have seen in a previous blog that at the beginning of May, the team from the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE) visited Santiago in Chile for a workshop on dog population management.

Whilst in Chile, zoo staff and veterinary students enthusiastically attended a zoo animal behaviour and welfare workshop held at the Buin Zoo. Led by Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE, whose PhD centres around zoo animal welfare, the event focussed on developing an understanding of the behavioural needs of zoo animals and implementing practical husbandry solutions to improve zoo animal welfare. For example, in the video below, you can see an example of a training session which would enable collection of a saliva sample from a bear to help us learn more about its health.


Zoo standards in South America are very variable but workshops like this, plus the transfer of knowledge through membership organisations such as ALPZA, are helping to focus efforts on improved zoo animal health and husbandry, and thus improving zoo animal welfare.
JMICAWE would like to thank Dr Nelly Lakestani, a former MSc and Phd student of Prof Nat Waran, Director of the JMICAWE, for her help in coordinating the workshop.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Veterinary Care for Working Equids: A Talk by Polly Compston

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education is excited to announce that the Senior Veterinary Adviser at The Brooke, Polly Compston, has agreed to speak at the New Dick Vet School as a part of the special lecture series it runs each year. 



Polly will be coming to Easter Bush Campus from The Brooke to give a talk on working horses, donkeys and mules in low-income countries on Friday, June 5th.
Polly graduated from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in 2007 and started her career in mixed general practice. After a period of time working as a veterinary volunteer overseas she completed a residency in Clinical Research at Rossdales Equine Hospital in Newmarket alongside an MSc from the RVC in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health.  She moved to The Brooke, an international animal welfare NGO in November 2013, where she is currently the Senior Veterinary Adviser.

The Brooke is an international organisation that works globally dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules, and their owners, in some of the world's poorest communities. You can find out more about it here:         

There are three main ways in which they work: by strengthening service provision systems; through engagement with communities to identify and solve their animal health and welfare problems; and advocacy at national and international levels. This talk will give an overview of the problems that working equids face and how organisations like The Brooke can have an impact on their health and welfare.

We are really excited that Polly has agreed to come and present this talk to us – we have no doubt that it will be very informative and not to be missed! We look forward to welcoming her on June 5th and keep an eye on our blog for a post about the talk!

Monday, 25 May 2015

2nd Regional Meeting of Animal Welfare Groups in The Balkans

JMICAWE veterinary nurse Hayley Walters has recently returned from Croatia after presenting at the 2nd regional meeting of animal welfare experts in the Balkans.

The committee  was created last year by Alex Hammond Seaman of RSPCA International and Tomislav Mikus  of the Croatian Veterinary Institute and is the beginnings of a network and forum for sharing knowledge and experiences from different sectors and stakeholders across 8 different non EU member countries; Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia , Albania and Kosovo. The meeting was attended by vets, OIE staff members, laboratory animal research/welfare scientists, animal behaviourists, veterinary lecturers, European commission members, NGOs and those involved in Dog Population Management.
Hayley spoke of the relevance of animal welfare in veterinary education and the challenges for the future. Since the integration of JMICAWE and our increase in animal welfare education into the curriculum over the last 4 years, research has shown that our students now show more empathy and recognise higher levels of sentience in animals as opposed to findings from research carried out pre 2011. Hayley also spoke about the importance of using models and manikins instead of live animals in teaching clinical and surgical skills. Research has shown that 91% of students who are taught clinical skills on animal alternatives, such as models and manikins, rated their learning experience equal or superior to learning on a live teaching animal.
This information was well received by the 40 strong audience and interest was shown by both Serbian and Slovenian vets who still use live teaching animals in their teaching and would like JMICAWE to run a ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop in their vet schools.
Hayley said, “It was wonderful to see so many passionate animal welfare experts, from so many different countries who were freely volunteering their time to speak or attend, altogether in the same room. The Balkan region has a long, sad history of wars where human welfare has been compromised but now the time is here for attention to be turned to improving animal welfare through collaborative efforts”.

It’s a very new committee that is a work in progress but it’s a platform where Balkan member countries can meet to avoid duplication of the same animal welfare mistakes from the past, share expertise and collaborate on a regional level.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Communicating Science: A Bold Lion?

The Living Links department at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo recently held a science communication competition as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival. It took place over a weekend in April, and JMICAWE's Jill Mackay was one of six speakers invited to take part.

The competition involved giving a 3 minute scientific talk on Animal Cultures - in other words, how animals relate and interact with one another - and as you can imagine, Jill found it quite a challenge to communicate a full scientific message within this timeframe!
Jill spoke about how we test animal personality, and chose to focus on Lions due to the event taking place at the zoo. Her brief but informative talk focussed on individual animal personality and how individuals are different within species, whilst addressing the issue of anthropomorphism and how we can show scientifically that some behaviours are more likely to occur than others within individual animals.
We are pleased to share that Jill won the competition, and both her talk and more information on the competition can be found on the Living Links website -

Jill really enjoyed the competition and the challenge of communicating some science in just 3 minutes, and would like to extend big thanks to the organisers, Lewis Dean and Alaina Macri for their hard work in coordinating it all.