Friday, 12 August 2016

NEW Clinical Animal Behaviour MSc

With only a few weeks to go before the new Clinical Animal Behaviour PG programme goes live, Programme Director, Prof Nat Waran and Prog Coordinator Dr Amy Miele are really pleased with the good number of applications that they received. ‘It looks like we will be welcoming considerably more students than we originally planned for in our first year, and the diverse range of backgrounds and expertise makes for an excellent student cohort ’ said Dr Amy Miele. She adds, 'this is a subject area of growing interest and it is fantastic to see that so many veterinary and animal welfare professionals are committed to developing their knowledge of behaviour in order to improve the welfare of the animals in their care'. The Programme, is an extension of the highly successful suite of online Masters programmes offered through the RDSVS, including the International animal welfare, ethics and law programme that was developed through the JMICAWE in 2012. 

JMICAWE Director Prof Nat Waran, who is responsible for developing this new programme comments; ’Its an interesting and challenging subject area, with students from many countries coming together to study wholly online, a range of subjects related to the theory of companion animal behaviour, causes of problem behaviour and animal welfare needs including; learning and motivation, behaviour modification, the science behind different therapies and treatment of behavioural problems, and the human-animal bond . We are really pleased to be able to offer this extremely socially relevant programme here at the RDSVS where we are committed to providing quality evidence based education to help improve animal welfare’.

The MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour is a new programme in 2016 using the University of Edinburgh’s award winning online learning environments.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Filming for MOOC 2- 'The Truth about cats and dogs' gets underway

With the success of our first MOOC (a Massive Open access Online Course) addressing issues relating to international animal welfare, we have responded to the many requests we have had to create a new MOOC, to provide an indepth look into the world of cats and dogs worldwide, to help dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings about pet behaviour and discover the truth about their needs.

Scripts are being created, images sourced and filming has now started, and the JMICAWE team's pets have all been washed and spruced ready for their big moments. We are well underway and excited about what we have planned.

JMICAWE team dogs are all ready for their starring roles
This free online course will be made available on Coursera ( by January 2017, but you can follow our, at times quite hilarious progress as we make our films (well anyone working with animals and scientists should expect some unplanned events!) by watching out for our tweets, blogs and facebooks posts at this link:

Friday, 22 July 2016

Tina Widowski lectures on the free range egg debate

An interesting link from our colleagues in Australia:-

Tina Widowski's Dean’s lecture, Marketing vs science – who's really winning in the free range egg debate?”, can now be accessed on our website seminar page. PDF, video and narrated presentation.

Animal Welfare Science Centre
Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences
The University of Melbourne

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Meeting our Animal Welfare ambassadors in China and Hong Kong

Meeting our Animal Welfare ambassadors in China and Hong Kong

On our travels, its wonderful to meet up with our former and current animal welfare Masters and veterinary students, as well as overseas colleagues who have spent some time in Edinburgh. It makes you realise that the network of animal ambassadors is growing all of the time, and like a tree – the branches expand our animal welfare teaching far wider than our little team could ever reach.

This week I was fortunate to meet up with Prof Li Peng and Prof Lin DeGui in Beijing at the Chinese Agricultural University’s veterinary school. Both of these veterinary lecturers have been involved with us over the past few years, inviting our team to teach their students and staff about the use of non animal models for teaching veterinary medicine and last year they came to Edinburgh to look at how we embed animal welfare into our teaching and practice. It was heartening to discuss their interest in deepening our working relationship through a veterinary programme link.

In addition when in Hong Kong I had the chance to meet with Dr Tinny Ho, Prof Amanda Whitfort, Dr SK Kong and Elaine Su – all Masters students of the International Animal Welfare, Ethics, Policy and Law programme at Edinburgh. Tinny showed me around the equine facilities at Beas River Country club where she keeps her horse, and where she is carrying out her Masters research project (see picture below). In addition she was keen to share her enthusiasm for developing an understanding of equitation science in HK. Later we met with our vet school Alumni and great friends of the JMICAWE who all work with the HK SPCA – Assistant director Dr Fiona Woodhouse, Head Vet Dr Jane Gray (who is currently studying on our online Animal Welfare Masters) and Tanya Masters (a RDSVS graduate). With this animal welfare powerhouse in HK – there is no wonder that there have been a number of positive moves for animal welfare here and certainly more to come with the recent discussion relating to animal breeders.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Veterinary Education collaborations welcomed in Jilin, China

Veterinary Education collaborations welcomed in Jilin, China

Earlier this month, the JMICAWE team travelled to the city of Changchun in Jilin province to deliver a 2 day workshop on animal welfare, animal behaviour, and veterinary skills to veterinary lecturers and students from 13 vet schools across China.

Comprehensive veterinary knowledge of subjects such as animal behaviour and pain recognition are essential to the good welfare of our animal patients, but are often not taught in Chinese vet schools; additionally the overuse of live animals in veterinary training may cause emotional conflicts in students who naturally want to ‘help’ animals.

Building on the success of the workshop, Jilin University is keen to develop training courses in the wider nursing and pain management of animal patients, and students from the course were delighted to learn of international standards in veterinary education.

Heather Bacon, of the JMICAWE, who received a follow up email from a student at the workshop, said she was delighted with the response “Animal welfare in China is sometimes seen as being a contentious issue, but significant improvements in animal welfare can be made simply through improving standards in veterinary education, and the skills of vets in practice, and it is this practical approach to improving welfare through improved veterinary care, that the JMICAWE focuses on”

And the student email?  Well you can read for yourself the importance of these topics to veterinary students in China!

“I sincerely hope the collaboration between the university of Edinburgh and Jilin University could improve the welfare of animals beginning from Jilin University. I remembered Hayley said it would be ground-breaking to start using non-animal models in teaching, and it could even earn the university itself a reputation (although I think it should not be the reputation that we are after, it should be the true affections for animals that drive us to care the welfare of animal). But it does not harm because I have always believed in the saying that ‘fake it till you make it’. 
I am sure a lot of students are feeling the same way I do.
Thanks for sowing the seed into our hearts. It will grow.”

Monday, 18 July 2016

Discussing Equine Behaviour and Welfare at ISES in Saumur

Discussing Equine Behaviour and Welfare at ISES in Saumur

It's always a treat when we get to meet old friends and discuss new directions in animal welfare research. The International Society for Equitation Science recently held their annual meeting at the invitation of the Cadre Noir, at the French National Riding School in Saumur. During the conference, we heard of the findings of research into potentially painful and restrictive issues with the use of over-tight nosebands used on horses, an all too common practice in the world of competition horses, and the subject of a three year PhD carried out by one of our former Masters in Animal Welfare students, Dr Orla Doherty. We also had the chance to observe and question different equine trainers, and to discuss the methods used for equine temperament testing in France and to provide valuable feedback to the relevant research team.

Prof Nat Waran, who is a founding member and Hon. Fellow of the International Society for Equitation Science, a subject that is now taught as an MSc Course within the University of Edinburgh’s Equine Master’s programme says:

 ‘Many of the methods used to train horses around the world rely on traditional approaches, which work, but may not always be the most humane,effective or ethical. This annual gathering of equitation scientists and practitioners provides an excellent forum for constructive discussion and exchange of ideas, encourages research to inform better practice and allows us to question beliefs and non-evidence based approaches in the hope that we will help improve equine welfare’.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Centre Director at "Key Animal Welfare Drivers" conference in Malaysia

Successful Last World Animal Protection Sponsored Animal Welfare Key Drivers workshop

It was a real delight to meet with the animal welfare lecturers from various Asian Veterinary Schools in Kuala Lumpur for the final WAP sponsored workshop for what we call the ‘Key Animal Welfare Drivers’. Professor Natalie Waran was honoured to be asked to attend and speak at the workshop, and to discuss how the JMICAWE can continue to support the educational work being carried out by these amazing animal welfare veterinary lecturers from Asian countries where animal welfare is generally poor and where there is a pressing need to help transfer knowledge about the science and practice of animal welfare to their future veterinarians.

First day of the International Society for Applied Ethology's 50th Anniversary conference here in Edinburgh

We are very excited to have been part of the organisation of this landmark event. With over 600 scientists from all over the world gathered to hear the latest research into applied animal behaviour and animal welfare issues and new methodologies - this is definitely the event to be at this year. Edinburgh hosted the first ever meeting of what was then called the Society of Veterinary Ethology, 50 years ago - and some of the Giants of our field have played an important role in furthering the aims of the Society. One of these was Prof David Wood-Gush - the first Hon Programme Director of the Masters in Applied animal behaviour and animal welfare, which was launched with funding from the European Union in 1990.  1990 was a significant year for our JMICAWE Director - who took on the role of Programme Coordinator, as her first job as a recent PhD graduate, to welcome the first ever Masters students on this course to Edinburgh. Tonight she looks forward to meeting some of the many Edinburgh graduates from over 25 years of the programme, as well as some of those who will join us from on online Masters in International Animal Welfare and ex PhD students! Many of these are now Professors and world influencers, with their own Animal Welfare research and education programmes and their own students. Its wonderful to think that Edinburgh has played such an important part in helping to shape their future careers!

The welcome event this evening will be opened by our own Prof David Argyle, the Head of the Veterinary School at Edinburgh, and this will be followed by the Wood-Gush Memorial talk given this year by Professor Christine Nicol from Bristol University Veterinary School.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Working with the JNU to develop teaching at the National Animal Welfare Institute of India

In June this year, Prof Nat Waran met with the academic team led by Prof Sen at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) who have just signed a contract with the Indian Government, to develop and provide various levels of courses addressing the development of animal welfare sciences at the Ballabhgarh campus of the National Institute of Animal Welfare (NIAW) in Haryana.

The JMICAWE team are delighted that the NIAW, which was first discussed by Minister Maneka Gandhi and Prof Nat Waran during the Minister’s visit to Edinburgh in 1999 – has now come of age. The JNU, signed the agreement in the presence of human resource development (HRD) minister Smriti Zubin Irani and environment minister Prakash Javadekar, to provide animal welfare education for India and plans with the help of the JMICAWE to develop a range of Certificate and Diploma level animal welfare courses initially, to address the needs of animal shelter work, the laboratory sector and street dog management. 

Government Minister Mrs Maneka Gandhi with JMICAWE director Prof Nat Waran at the Minister's residence in Delhi, June 2016

Monday, 4 July 2016

MSc International Animal Welfare, Ethics & Law - dissertation time!

Our IAWEL dissertation students have been presenting the results and conclusions of their MSc research projects. They have covered a wide variety of topics. Our traditional science based studies have looked at the assessment of stress in shelter cats, measured the behaviour of magpies in traps, and measured slaughter parameters in cattle in Vietnam, among many other projects.

We have had desk-based studies covering euthanasia of working equines, discussions of non-surgical population management of dogs and the potential of welfare guidelines to protect wildlife in ecotourism. We have had legal analyses of the ‘Ag-Gag’ laws and the differential protections given to types of rabbit.

The students have all done so well with their presentations and projects as a whole, we wish them all a relaxing holiday as the hard work is over for them. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Human behaviour change conference Dorking, Surrey 19-21 September 2016

You may be asking, what is human behaviour change?  Follow this link to find out more.

JMICAWE is the academic partner for this exciting new initiative in September.  Read what conference organiser Suzanne Rogers has to say about it:-

"This international conference will be the first in a field that is rapidly becoming recognized as a key component in animal welfare work. Modern practice is moving away from the traditional approach of focussing on service provision (e.g. veterinary care, training, or hands-on assistance) or raising awareness and towards those activities as part of a more human-centered approach to generate change that lasts.

The conference will include presentations on human behaviour change theory from key speakers and submitted presentations and case studies selected from peer-reviewed abstracts.   Early bird tickets are available before 30th June 2016.

The aims of the conference are:

·         To highlight the importance of human behaviour change (HBC) in animal welfare work.
·         To educate on core elements of HBC theory through key presentations from leading experts.
·         To facilitate sharing of information and experiences of HBC for animal welfare. 
·         To encourage embedding of HBC in inter-sectoral collaboration, innovation and policy. 
·         To explore novel methods for the monitoring and evaluation of HBC approaches and provide evidence-based information illustrating its value."

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.