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.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Dogs and Society Workshop in Santiago, Chile - May 2015

Last week saw the JMICAWE’s Director Prof Nat Waran and Veterinary Outreach Manager Heather Bacon in Chile, for the start of a joint initiative between Edinburgh University's Jeanne Marchig International Animal Welfare Centre and the Sustainability Research Centre at Universidad Andres Bello.




The purpose of the one day workshop was to bring together key Researchers, Academics, Policy Makers and NGOs to discuss the issues relating to interactions between people and dogs in Chile. The objective was to develop a joint understanding of the human- dog relationship and to explore how, through research and policy, it may be possible to use evidence-based humane approaches to managing health and welfare concerns relating to increasing dog ownership. These concerns can include pet behaviour problems, pet neglect and abandonment and associated high numbers of dogs in shelters, as well as public health and animal welfare issues associated with increasing number of stray and street dogs within Chile.
Dogs present an international dilemma. In most countries they are considered to be ‘man’s best friend’, and pet numbers are increasing along with veterinary treatment possibilities and a strong pet food and product industry. Yet they are also considered as pests, being seen in some parts of the world as a public health problem due to dog bites and associated injuries, as well as the risk of disease or parasite transmission, such as rabies.
The number of dogs in Chile is estimated to be over 3 million, with a median human per dog ratio of 4.8. As with other parts of the world, the presence of an uncontrolled canine population poses risks not just to the health and welfare of the public, but also environmental health risks and concerns for the welfare of the dogs themselves.
Dogs are attracted to places where humans live and often this will bring them into conflict resulting in damage to property and injury to humans and dogs. Because stray dogs are so clearly visible in the streets, they attract the attention of the public and tourists, with rising numbers of dog bites sometimes leading to life-threatening consequences. In various parts of the world, management of the expanding dog population has involved the implementation of animal breeding control programmes along with vaccinations campaigns to tackle zoonotic disease risks, alongside education programmes for children to help with safety awareness.
We will keep you up-to-date with our work in Chile, but in the mean time if you are interested in learning more about Street dogs, why not watch our short film dedicated to them on YouTube?

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Use of Online Learning as CPD within Animal Welfare Organisations

We are very proud of one of our MSc in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law (IAWEL) students Lee Read, who recently presented preliminary results of his MSc dissertation project at the British Society of Animal Science Annual Conference (BSAS), 'Science With Impact', at the University of Chester.

One of the conference themes was 'knowledge transfer and education', and 'bridging the gap between policy and research'. BSAS works to improve the understanding of animal science and the ways it can help ensure food is produced ethically and economically. As an organisation they promote accessible science and during the 2015 annual conference were keen to have a range of papers looking at innovative educational projects.

 Lee presented preliminary evaluation of the bespoke Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course that the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education designed for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Lee's project, titled "The use of online learning as continuing professional development within animal welfare organisations: A case study with IFAW' found that IFAW staff members had a generally positive response to the professional development program, with more IFAW staff members reporting that they felt very confident in describing IFAW's ethical position with regards to animal welfare issues, and 90% of staff members strongly agreed that animal welfare was based in science (versus 80% who felt this way prior to doing the course).
Lee also investigated how different learner types responded to the online format of the course, and intends to use this to inform the creation of virtual learning environments in future projects.

This work will allow animal welfare scientists to build better interventions in future, and refine the educational materials already in use. Lee's work also supports the evidence based approach to animal welfare, by demonstrating how an evidence led approach can make a measurable change in peoples' knowledge and attitudes to animal welfare, as well as providing education in an enjoyable and flexible setting.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Looking to take the reins on Thoroughbred Racehorse Health and Welfare in Hong Kong

As you may have read in our last blog, staff from the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Roslin Institue were in Hong Kong last week. Whilst they were there, Thoroughbred racehorse health and welfare education and research opportunities were discussed during a visit with the Hong Kong Jockey Club veterinary clinical services team.


A Racehorse and Jockey at Happy Valley Racetrack
Professor Bruce McGorum, head of the RDSVS equine section at the University of Edinburgh, and Professor Nat Waran, Director of the JMICAWE, were very pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Dr Chris Riggs, head of the veterinary clinical services department of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and his team during a recent visit to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong team of extremely experienced equine vets regularly provide placements for extremely fortunate RDSVS students wishing to learn more about the veterinary management of racing thoroughbreds in Hong Kong.

Prof Bruce McGorum and Dr Chris Riggs outside of the veterinary clinical services department
As well as being given a tour of the impressively equipped veterinary laboratories and equine facilities at the Sha Tin racecourse where over 1,200 Thoroughbred horses are cared for by the team, opportunities for further applied clinical research collaborations in shared areas of interest to enhance equine health and welfare were discussed. The visit ended with a behind the scenes visit to the Happy Valley racetrack where observations of the veterinary team in action, the strict health and welfare checks taking place, as well as seeing the horses race provided an interesting insight into the life of the Hong Kong racehorse, as well as the important role played by the Hong Kong Jockey Club veterinary team.

Behind the scenes at Happy Valley Racetrack

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