Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Introducing Louise Buckley to the JMICAWE team

A new face joins the Clinical Animal Behaviour MSc team

Our online MSc programme Clinical Animal Behaviour has proved so popular with students from across the world that it has been necessary to appoint a full time programme coordinator to assist Dr Amy Miele.

Meet Dr Louise Buckley, the newest recruit to our team here at JMICAWE.

 “Hello everyone! I was delighted to be offered this job as the programme focuses on many of my interests, and this means that I am in contact every day with students and staff from all over the world who also share my enthusiasm for animal behaviour and welfare.

Accepting this job was something of an academic home-coming for me as I started out here as a postgraduate student on the Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare MSc programme back in the mid-2000s. I enjoyed myself so much that I then stayed to undertake a PhD in poultry welfare, focusing on broiler breeder hunger and diet preferences. The quest for an academic job then took me back South of the border, where I joined another university and lectured in veterinary nursing and animal behaviour/welfare topics for seven years.

However, my background is more eclectic than that - I am also a registered veterinary nurse who has worked in clinical practice for 20 years, often alongside my academic studies and teaching commitments. I can often be found at the weekend working at a busy veterinary emergency clinic and supporting clients and their pets through often difficult and traumatic events. I am also heavily involved in promoting evidence-based veterinary medicine and professional development of veterinary professionals through my activities with a number of veterinary organisations, and this is a passion I hope to extend further through my involvement once again with the CAB programme and the veterinary school.”

We welcome Louise back to Edinburgh and to the JMICAWE team.




Friday, 11 May 2018

A Day in the Life of a Veterinary Nurse


This month is Vet Nursing Awareness Month, and we asked our two VNs, Hayley Walters MBE and Jess Davies, to put an article together to explain their vital role in the care and treatment of their patients.


What does the veterinary nurse actually do?!

Our day begins with making sure that all the inpatients have everything they need. Medication, food, water, access to toileting and a clean comfy bed are the basics. But staying in an, albeit caring, but unfamiliar environment can be very upsetting for many animals and so we try to not just focus on their physical needs but also their psychological. For instance, making sure that the food they have is actually what they like to eat and not just any old food! Cats usually appreciate a box to hide in to make them feel secure and dogs often enjoy a comforting cuddle session to ease their anxiety from being away from their owner. Vet nurses are trained in understanding animal behaviour and assessing pain which allows us to highlight our concerns for a patient.  If we have any particular worries, we can discuss them with the vet in charge and make sure they are attended to quickly.

Veterinary nurses are more highly trained than many people think. We have to train for up to 4 years either in college or university, complete hundreds of hours of practical work within approved training centres, be signed off as competent in many different skills, complete assignments, and pass written and practical exams before we can qualify and go on the national register of veterinary nurses. This means we are qualified to do a plethora of jobs from taking blood, bandaging, cannula placing, and X-raying to anaesthetic monitoring, consultations, physiotherapy, and minor surgery. Vets rely very heavily on veterinary nurses to help them and the relationship is certainly symbiotic!

No two days are the same. We might be teaching an owner how to inject their diabetic cat with insulin one moment and holding a dear old dog for euthanasia the next. We might be resuscitating puppies born by caesarean one day and emptying anal glands the next! The hours can be long and sometimes it can be difficult emotionally, but those things are temporary and the good times always outweigh the sad. Knowing we are doing my best to improve the lives of animals is the most rewarding job in the world and if we had to choose my career again, we would both choose veterinary nursing in a heartbeat.




Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Dick Vet student wins 2018 RABDF Farm Health Management Award


Many congratulations to Penny Stewart, who has been announced the winner of 2018 RABDF Farm Health Management Award.  This is a fantastic achievement by one of our final student students (and is the second year of Dick Vet success!)

In the Spring Penny took part in a UK-wide competition to produce a 15000-word essay on the subject of the DEFRA/Industry Animal Health and Welfare Strategy.  This Government Strategy encompasses the health and welfare of farmed livestock, companion and other animals, aquaculture, and game animals. The Strategy is also concerned with wildlife where our actions affect their health or welfare, or where there is a risk of wildlife transmitting disease to other animals or humans.

Penny demonstrated her knowledge of the costs of disease and the financial impact of disease on business performance; her knowledge of the impact of good nutrition on the health and welfare of farm animals, the likely impact on the quality of meat and milk being produced for human consumption; and on the importance of collaboration between farm staff and veterinary and other advisers in formulating health management plans, alongside many other important issues.


Monday, 30 April 2018

Bahrain Pet Expo


Donata Baars, an animal care professional working in Bahrain, writes:-


Bahrain is a small island country in the Middle East, attached to Saudi Arabia by a causeway. It is a thriving country that has grown immensely in the last 40 years on all fronts of its economy. The only thing that seems to be falling behind is the welfare of the many animals that Bahrain has. Indigenous, exotic, wild, owned and stray. But there is definitely progress; Bahrain is working hard on improving its animal welfare!

On Friday the 13th April, Bahrain held its very first PetExpo! It was the first time ever that an event was organized that was all about the welfare of animals in general and stray dogs in particular. On the main stage, important issues were discussed. There was the first time showing of the movie about Baloo, a rescue dog that turned into a therapy dog for autistic children. The vet that works very closely with the BSPCA (Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) talked about how to administer first aid to your pet when a veterinarian is not directly available.

Last but not least a discussion was held between animal welfare advocates about the situation of the stray dogs in Bahrain; how to reduce the stray dog population humanely, how to respond to a stray dog approaching you, the importance of spaying and neutering your pets, how to achieve a better human-dog interaction and much, much, more. As an animal care professional, I was invited to speak and represent a more scientific approach to stray dog management. With support from the JMICAWE team including Dr. Heather Bacon and VN Hayley Walters I was presenting an evidence-based approach to managing a stray dog population and the need for an on-going Catch-Neuter-Return programme. Heather and Hayley's knowledge and input was invaluable to having a meaningful discussion at the event. As a result a full feature article will be printed in next month’s Salaam Bahrain magazine!

Of course there were games, food sales and a shopping bazaar but they were also there to entice people to come and thus learn more about the welfare of animals. Not only were pet shops represented but also veterinary clinics and the local rescue groups that do so much in Bahrain for the welfare of the stray dogs.

Donata Baars



Thursday, 26 April 2018

Welcome back, Hayley!

It's  - and it marks the return to work after maternity leave for our Vet Nurse, Hayley Walters. Welcome back, Hayley!



Hayley's son & dog

Friday, 20 April 2018

Understanding the mind of the horse - Dr Helen Spence


Understanding the mind of the horse, with Dr Helen Spence

Ellie Girgis writes:

On the 21st February 2018, students and staff of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies gathered at Easter Bush Campus to hear Dr Helen Spence (an academic, and working Equine Behaviour and Training Consultant) explain her approach to understanding the mind of the horse.

Dr Spence explained the various emotional drivers and the underlying physiological processes which result in the outward displays of specific behaviours and expressions in our horses. Dr Spence impressed the importance of understanding these processes for both compassionate and effective handling and training. 

               Ellie Girgis (on left) with Dr Helen Spence


In association with the R(D)SVS Horse Society, with whom they jointly hosted Dr Spence, the Dick Vet Animal Behaviour Society expresses their sincere thanks to Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education for their generous sponsorship, without which this event would not have been possible!



Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Dick Vet Behaviour & Nutrition Conference


Dick Vet Behaviour & Nutrition Conference

On Saturday 24th February, the Dick Vet Animal Behaviour Society and RDSVS Nutrition Society hosted their second joint Behaviour and Nutrition Conference. It was an excellent day, with 114 attendees consisting of students and staff from both the Dick Vet and Glasgow Vet School.

The day started early with breakfast before kicking off a full day of lectures on behaviour and nutrition topics.  Behaviour talks included:-
  • Training for Common Behaviour Problems with Dogs Trust Senior Behaviour and Training Adviser Alasdair Bunyan;
  • Aggression in Farm Species with R(D)SVS’ own Paul Wood; and 
  • How to Run a Behaviour Consult with University of Lincoln’s veterinary behaviourist Kevin McPeake.
Kevin McPeake


Nutrition talks covered:-
  • Dispelling Nutrition Myths with Royal Canin’s Hannah Poile;
  • The Power of Innovative Nutrition in Clinical Practice with Dick Vet graduate Emma Henton from Hill’s Pet Nutrition; and
  • Nutrition for Wildlife with Jess Crabtree from the Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue.

The day concluded with a wine and cheese reception which gave the delegates time to relax and chat with each other and with the guest speakers. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive and clearly showed the desire for more behaviour and nutrition teaching for vet students!


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Shuchorita Epik wins runner-up in BVBA Veterinary Student Award



Shuchorita Epik, an undergraduate student at R(D)SVS with a keen interest in animal behaviour, was recently awarded the runner-up prize for the BVBA Veterinary Student Award.

She wrote this piece about her experience collecting the award in Birmingham on 4th April.

-" Attending the BVBA Study Day last week was a rewarding and very humbling experience for me, 
and I’m incredibly grateful to Dr. Amy Miele and everyone at the BVBA for such a valuable opportunity.

The process of writing the essay for this award made me reflect upon how much I have been taught in the last few years to allow me to carry my previous experience in animal behaviour into a future career as a veterinary clinician, something which I had been concerned about upon making the decision to shift fields.

I felt inspired hearing so many accomplished speakers discuss behaviour in its absolutely relevant context within the realm of animal medicine—in an age where animal welfare and ethics are still met with such controversy, it was incredibly uplifting to sit in a room full of such dedicated professionals. 

This very engaging conference day has left me with a great motivational boost to continue pursuing a post-graduation career in which behavioural considerations can be at the forefront of all of my clinical endeavors".


Many congratulations to Shochorita on her success!

Monday, 16 April 2018

Hayley Walters at BSAVA Congress 2018


JMICAWE vet nurse Hayley Walters recently spoke at BSAVA Congress in Birmingham. This is one of the biggest events on the veterinary calendar and is attended by vets and nurses from all over the world. Hayley gave two lectures: one on her experiences and challenges whilst working in developing nations; and the other on what to do if your patient’s welfare is compromised and your ethics are challenged. 

Her lectures were well received with many nurses coming up to speak to her afterwards. 

Hayley said, “It was such an honour to be able to speak at such a well respected event and I hope the vets and nurses at my lectures took away some really important information about how to improve their patient’s time in the clinic and what to expect when working in developing nations”. 


Hayley, along with JMICAWE's Veterinary Outreach Manager Heather Bacon, has been booked to speak again next year.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Introducing Jess Martin




A second Jess joined our team at the end of last year, not to be confused with Jess Davies, our Vet Nurse covering Hayley Walters' maternity leave.  Allow Dr Jess Martin to introduce herself...

"I am a Lecturer at the R(D)SVS, University of Edinburgh and a Clinical Research Associate of the Roslin Institute. I have a long standing research interest in animal consciousness and pain, especially relating this to commercial pig and poultry production. My work in this area has spanned both physiological and behavioural welfare impacts of intensive livestock systems to on-farm despatching methods, as well as full scale animal slaughter. I also have a strong investment in AgriTech innovation to enhance animal welfare as well as production for livestock species. I have worked on a wide range of research projects related to animal pain, welfare assessment, behaviour, animal ethics, animal slaughter and on-farm killing, and animal transport. Alongside my research I teach and provide expert support in experimental design and data analysis for staff and students at R(D)SVS. I am currently the Animal Welfare Research Network Champion for the University of Edinburgh.

My current work is evaluating the welfare impact of a novel stunning technique (Low Atmospheric Pressure stunning) for commercial pigs, to hopefully identify a more humane alternative to CO2 stunning in pigs. This project is being funded by Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) and is in collaboration with University of Glasgow and SRUC."





Thursday, 15 March 2018

Hayley Walters MBE

The whole team sends its congratulations to Hayley Walters, our JMICAWE Vet Nurse, who was at Buckingham Palace earlier today to collect her MBE from HRH the Prince of Wales


Well-deserved recognition for the work Hayley does to improve animal welfare worldwide.


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Tackling Dangerous Dog Legislation - Dr Amy Miele

Tackling Dangerous Dog Legislation

On Wednesday 28th February Dr Amy Miele of JMICAWE was invited to chair a Policy Exchange focussing on Dangerous Dog Legislation in the UK which was held in central London. The aim of this exchange was to foster interdisciplinary relationships, while also exploring alternatives to the controversial Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) of 1991 and its’ subsequent amendments. Alongside this, delegates shared best practice with regards to promoting responsible dog ownership and ensuring optimal canine and human welfare under the current legislative framework.


Dr Amy Miele is the Programme Director of the online learning MSc Clinical Animal Behaviour

The day included presentations from charities such as the RSPCA, Dogs Trust and Born Innocent, as well as from London Assembly Members and animal behaviour researchers working in the field. There was an emphasis on evidence based practice and Dr Samantha Gaines, RSPCA, was the first to set the scene with some statistics demonstrating the futility of breed specific legislation and the need for standardised reporting of dog bite incidents in order to inform appropriate preventative action. Dr Naomi Harvey, University of Nottingham, echoed these sentiments and presented data highlighting the high degree of within breed variation in behaviour traits. She emphasised that any genetic impact on behaviour should be considered at the level of the individual rather than the breed.

Ms Shaila Bux, Born Innocent, talked about the work that she and her colleagues do to help the owners of dogs who have been seized under Section 1 of the DDA. Her case studies highlighted concerns over the lack of standardisation with regards to the assessment of seized dogs and the welfare concerns that they face during prolonged periods of kennelling while awaiting assessment.

Assembly Members Leonie Cooper and Steve O’Connell from Labour and London Conservatives respectively, demonstrated the cross-party agreement on this important subject and discussed ways of promoting policy change. The day also included a presentation from Hollie Sevenoaks of Dogs Trust, who spoke about various Dogs Trust initiatives promoting responsible dog ownership. So far, Dogs Trust has reached over 330, 000 school children via their primary school workshops and they are in the process of analysing data that will inform on the impact of this work.

Delegates included Clinical Animal Behaviourist Kendal Shepherd, an experienced expert witness and Walter Pennell, a Dog Liaison Officer from South Wales Police, both of whom shared their wisdom and stories of best practice within the limitations of the current legal framework.

While the day uncovered severe flaws in the current Dangerous Dog legislation in the UK, the concluding remarks were positive, with a focus on continuing to build upon the cross-sector relationships forged during the day and fostering change, while also supporting initiatives focussing on public education and responsible pet-ownership.


Teaching children how to behave around dogs and about responsible dog ownership was one of the key initiatives discussed during the Policy Exchange

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Celebrating the role of mothers in animal welfare


Celebrating the role of mothers in animal welfare

Sunday 11th March is Mother’s Day here in UK. It is also the time of year when our fields start to fill with ewes and lambs, and cows and calves. This is a special time of the year for JMICAWE Director, Prof Cathy Dwyer, whose research work has focused on the role of mothers in improving the survival and welfare of newborn livestock, especially lambs. Mothers provide food and protection for their new offspring, but they also are sources of warmth, comfort and reassurance, and provide their offspring with opportunities to learn about the wider world.

The social and cognitive development of the young animal is shaped by maternal contact, and mothers can buffer their offspring from potentially negative or stressful things that may occur around them. Mothers provide a safe environment from which offspring can explore, play and engage in positive social behaviours, such as grooming. The maternal bond, or attachment between mother and offspring, is a really important component of survival, but also shapes the life of her offspring and sets them on the path to good welfare. Ensuring that young animals have a good social interaction with their mothers, and that mothers are properly cared for to allow them to express maternal behaviour is a vital part of animal welfare.

To mothers everywhere – we thank you for your role in making us who we are!    



Thursday, 8 March 2018

#PressforProgress on International Women’s Day


#PressforProgress on International Women’s Day, 8th March 2018

Today is International Women’s Day when we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. For 2018 this is also about acting to achieve gender parity. Here at JMICAWE we want to mark the fantastic achievements that women have made for animal welfare.

Women have always played a central role in animal welfare, from the early pioneers of animal welfare science, the founders, directors and CEOs of animal welfare charities and NGOs, and the current researchers, teachers, advocates, veterinarians, veterinary nurses and animal carers. Animal welfare science, and the veterinary profession, is increasingly becoming a female-oriented field. Our care and compassion for the animals that we share our world with is helping to improve their lives, and also the lives of those who depend upon animals in their daily lives.

Often in the poorer countries on our planet it is women who are responsible for the care and welfare of animals, although their contribution to family education, income and quality of life may go unrecognised. In 2018 we want to speak up for these women, celebrate the vital role of women in improving animal welfare, and remember to #PressforProgress in recognising the role women play and working towards gender parity in all areas. 

Finally, the core JMICAWE team are all women, and the wider JMICAWE family is also largely female. It is an inspiration to be able to work with such dedicated, professional and hard-working women, who are passionate about bringing about improvements in animal welfare. Thank you all for your fantastic achievements and your compassion, care and dedication to animal welfare.