Tuesday, 15 April 2014


Read  about the latest animal welfare news and activities by our dedicated team

Our Spring newsletter is now available to download.

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and much much more....


Monday, 14 April 2014

Veterinary profession debates support for continued badger culling

Last year’s trial badger cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset was supported by the British Veterinary Association on the grounds of assessing whether the shooting of free-standing (as opposed to caged) badgers was safe, humane and effective. The trial was part of the UK government’s approach to gathering more information as part of its TB control strategy and this pilot cull was not intended to examine and links between the changes in badger population and the incidence of TB in cattle in the cull areas.

Last week the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) reviewing the trial cull, released it’s report which recognised that the cull whilst safe, failed significantly on the criteria of humane culling and effectiveness. Based on this report the UK government have decided not to roll out the cull to a wider geographic are but to continue it within Somerset and Gloucestershire and work on developing a humane and effective methodology.

Badger culling as part of the TB control strategy has always been contentious. Several years ago, the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) report initially stated that culling of badgers could play no part in TB control in cattle. However further evaluation of the RBCT data several years later demonstrated that in fact there had been a 16% reduction in cattle TB in the cull areas.

Based on this information recommendations were made that if badger culling were to occur, it needed to a) cover a large area, b) remove 70% of the badger population and c) to be performed over a short period of time (ideally 8 – 12 nights).  For practical purposes last year’s pilot cull set the culling duration at 6 weeks and this was later extended further when the failure of the culls to meet targets became apparent. Based on the IEP’s evaluation the current round of culling failed on all of these targets, as well as failing to meet the humaneness criteria, set at no more than 5% of badgers taking longer than 5 minutes to die. This means that the current situation is that TB in badgers and cattle will likely increase because of the perturbation of badger social structure caused by the failed cull.

The Government has accepted most of the recommendations made by the IEP and aims to improve its approach to culls in the next round of culling, due to take place this year, in order to try meet the efficacy and humaneness targets. If these criteria are not met, evidence indicates that the two rounds of pilot culling will have created significant risk of increasing TB in badgers and cattle due to perturbation of badger populations.

Now though, the veterinary profession must evaluate the potential impact of last year’s cull, the failure to meet targets, and the potential damage already done by the impact of perturbation. The only way to mitigate this damage is to repeat the cull, and ensure the targets for efficacy and humaneness are met – but is this possible? Is it likely? Or will further, potentially ineffective culling just make the situation even worse for both cattle and badgers?

The role of the veterinary profession in difficult issues like this one is essential, but gaining a consensus can be difficult. The British Veterinary Zoological Society has always opposed the culls on scientific, ethical and welfare grounds, however the British Cattle Veterinary Association, and overall the BVA, supported last year’s pilot culls.

As a council member for BVZS and a member of the Ethics and Welfare Committee for BVA, the JMICAWE’s Heather Bacon has been fully involved in the current debate on the second round of culling. Speaking for the JMICAWE Heather said, “the issue of TB is a difficult one and requires a comprehensive approach. It is often stated that no country has achieved TB control without wildlife control, but it remains to be seen whether it is actually possible to control badger populations with the current approach, or whether this approach will worsen the situation. Up to 40% of farms within TB endemic areas have no history of TB reaction. It would be useful to investigate this issue further examining what biosecurity measures may be in place in these farms to confer protection in endemic areas. TB control is extremely complex and it is likely that further investment and research is needed into areas such as wildlife contraception, vaccination and cattle control measures.”

The BVA is currently considering it’s position on continuing to support the pilot culls and is soliciting membership views on the issue.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

'FEELING' The British Animal Studies Network (BASN) April Meeting

This meeting of BASN will place on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 April 2014 in the Collins Building at the University of Strathclyde in central Glasgow. A map giving the location of the building can be found here. To register for the meeting, please click here to be taken to the University of Strathclyde online shop. Some ideas for accommodation can be found here. The Premier Inn Glasgow City Centre, George Square is the nearest hotel to the University.

For information about the programme and the talks please go to:
It is hoped that this, along with the other BASN meetings, will be attended by a range of people involved in animal studies and related areas. This might include scholars and postgraduates working within the field; scholars from outside of animal studies who are beginning to recognise the significance of studying the role, place and perception of animals; people from non-academic institutions – animal welfare charities, museums, NGOs who are working with and for animals, and artists who are representing and thinking about animals in their work.



Tuesday, 8 April 2014

'Dog Shelters in Developing Countries ... the Reality' CPD Presentation

Last week, our welfare veterinary nurse, Hayley Walters, delivered a presentation entitled 'The Realities of Dog Shelters in Developing Countries' that was open to all University staff as part of the Continuing Professional Development series.   Hayley was able to give first-hand knowledge based on her own experiences of working in Thailand, India, China and Vietnam.

"Whilst some of the photos and videos were upsetting to see, it's important that people are aware of what is happening on an international level.  Raising awareness not only increases knowledge, it also allows people to make good decisions in terms of working/volunteering in overseas projects and which charities to donate their money to".

Government-run dog shelter in Thailand
The talk was held on Wednesday 2nd April in the HfSA and was very well received.  Hayley will be delivering it again to the anaesthesia team as part of on-going CPD.


Monday, 7 April 2014

This Parliament considers animals to be sentient beings

Christine Grahame, Chair of the Cross Party Animal Welfare Group has Motion for Members Debate addressing Animal Sentience agreed for 15th May 2014.

Motion S4M-09418: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/03/2014

That the Parliament considers that companion animals, farmed animals and wild creatures are sentient beings whose contribution to communities and the environment should be recognised and celebrated; acknowledges, in particular, the positive role of pets in the lives of children and adults throughout Scotland, including in Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, and the comfort and assistance that they provide for many people who have difficulty with vision, hearing, mobility or socialising, and affirms that animals need and deserve the best possible welfare standards appropriate for their species whenever they are bred, reared, traded or kept.


Monday, 31 March 2014

Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education Organises animal welfare conference in India

Animal Welfare high on the Agenda in Bangalore last month


This Indian conference was a collaborative event between the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Commonwealth Veterinary Association; Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University, Bidar; and the National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology. It was held in Bangalore from 20-24 February 2014. The talks all addressed the importance of developing an evidence based approach for improving animal health and welfare, and different themes considered various areas of veterinary research, education and policy including; the use of new technologies to combat infectious diseases; finding new ways to tackle India’s growing problem of rabies and humane dog population management and the importance of animal welfare science in both veterinary education and research.
Around 150 delegates were welcomed to each of the 5 days of the conference, with talks provided by over 60 international speakers from countries including: India, UK, Italy, USA, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Switzerland, Japan, Netherlands, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Various International organisations were represented including the OIE, WHO, FVE, EC, WVA and the UK Home Office, in addition 10 of the conference speakers were from the University of Edinburgh.
The conference was delighted to welcome important guests such as the Indian commissioner for Animal Husbandry, Prof Suresh Honnappagol and Sir Timothy O’Shea- Principal and VC of the UoE who inaugurated the ‘Progress in Animal Welfare’ third day of the conference on 22 February where he signed a MoU with the Commonwealth Veterinary Association for future collaborative work in animal health and welfare.
Professor Natalie Waran, The Director of the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies who co-organised the event, said:
Improvements in animal health and welfare and, by association, human welfare in India is of pressing concern, especially with the increasing numbers of domestic and livestock animals. My colleagues and I learned a great deal from attending the conference and we plan to continue to strengthen our collaborations with our Indian partners to help tackle the diverse range of animal diseases and important animal welfare issues, the country’s veterinary profession has responsibility for.’
Delegates experienced excellent opportunities for good discussion and the development of future collaborations. Dr Fritha Langford, Programme Director for the Edinburgh based online International Animal Welfare Masters programme said  ‘I for one am very pleased with how it all went, with three potential students applying for MSc IAWEL next year and a further two potential research areas for further discussion –all as a direct result of being at the conference’.
Delegates at the Conference

On 19th February, 2014 the CVA and Karnataka Veterinary Council organised a lecture by Prof. Bruce Whitelaw, Professor of Animal Biotechnology University of Edinburgh, on “A Future for Genetically Engineered Livestock”. His talk can be viewed at the following link: http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/vet/jeanne-marchig-centre/presentations/bwhitelaw

The Conference Brochure with Abstracts can be downloaded here: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/animalwelfare/Brochure1.PDF


Student Wins World Horse Welfare Bursary

Congratulations to Christian Byrne a  Third Year student of the RDSVS who has been awarded a Bursary by World Horse Welfare.

The bursary scheme provides the opportunity for students to attend The 7th International Colloquium on Working Equids 2014. The Colloquium consists of two days of lectures and discussion together with a third day of practical workshops. The event will focus on the question: “How do we demonstrate the importance of working equid welfare to human livelihoods?”.

Christian Byrne  stated: 'I am hoping to take away from the Colloquium an understanding of the diversity of roles that working equids play in different communities and how the veterinary surgeon can assist in optimising the interaction this has with animal and human welfare'.
Further details about this story can be found on

Free course on Animal Welfare

You can  now sign up for your free course on animal welfare at

In this animal behaviour and welfare course, you will learn about animal welfare and why it matters, develop an understanding of some of the main welfare issues animals have to cope with as well as gaining an insight into the behavioural needs and the emotions of dogs, cats, farmed animals and captive wildlife.

This course is delivered collaboratively by academics from the University of Edinburgh and Scotland's Rural College (SRUC).


Free WVA webinar on animal welfare 29 April 2014

Following the huge success of the WVA Global Seminar on Animal Welfare (held in Prague on 17-18 September 2013), the WVA and the European Commission agreed to keep "alive" the global panel discussions platform on Animal Welfare and to organize a follow up event via webinar with the participation of representatives from AVIN, AVMA, EFSA, EC, FAO, FVE, IVSA, OIE, WSPA, WAVMA, WVA and others.

The webinar will be streamed online for free and will give the public the possibility to ask questions and to comment the discussed Animal Welfare issues.

To Register go to: http://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/WebinarAnimalWelfare


Conference on Primates as Pets

Following the recent Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the issue of primates kept as pets, Humane Society International/UK and the Born Free Foundation are co-hosting a one-day conference on Primates as Pets. Please see the details below.

Introduced by the world-renowned primatologist Ian Redmond OBE, and with a discussion chaired by the well-known TV journalist, reporter and primatologist Asha Tanna, the Conference will bring together  international academics, veterinarians, and political and legal experts to discuss the animal welfare science, veterinary, legal, conservation and ethical aspects of the private keeping of non-human primates. BVA President Robin Hargreaves has agreed to speak at the conference.

 The conference website/registration page can be found at

Name: Should primates be kept as pets in the UK?

Date: 29th May 2014 10am

Venue: Directory of Social Change, 24 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2DP (near Euston Square)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Frontline animal welfare for the veterinary nurse

Last week, our welfare veterinary nurse, Hayley Walters, visited Edinburgh College to deliver a lecture in Animal Welfare and Ethics to 2nd year trainee veterinary nurses.

The lecture began with out-lining what animal welfare is NOT as there are so many misconceptions out there. It then went on to explain what animal welfare is and how we can measure it looking at the animal’s physical, physiological and behavioural state. Then, by using real life cases, Hayley went on to explain the difference between welfare and ethics and how it’s important to separate the two when you are making decisions about long term quality of life for an animal.

The student veterinary nurses were then divided into groups and each given their own real life case study with treatment options and had to discuss then present their welfare and ethical concerns for each treatment option.

“By allowing students to think for themselves about decision making and encouraging them to discuss the impact their decisions have on an animal’s welfare, we will hopefully encourage them to make good choices in the future. Choices not just based on how they ethically feel about the treatment option, but also on what the animal’s experience will be”.
Group Work with 2nd year veterinary nurses at Edinburgh College
Lecturing to 2nd year veterinary nurses  at Edinburgh College

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

VetEd Symposium 2014

The Veterinary Education Symposium  is a two day event open to a range of delegates, including veterinary educationalists, veterinary students, practitioners and researchers. It aims to provide an open and friendly atmosphere in which to share ideas, innovations and best practice in veterinary education.

The format includes keynote presentations, interactive poster sessions and workshops. Anybody is welcome to submit abstracts for posters or workshops and participation is actively encouraged.
The Symposium will be held at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences, Langford BS40 5DU. Registration will be from 10.00 on Thursday 10th July for an 11.00 start.
Further information is available by clicking the tabs below and scrolling down. If you have any other queries please contact the local committee via veted-2014@bristol.ac.uk

Students: Do you have an idea for improving veterinary students' learning experience? Further information and how to apply for the VetEd/HEA Student Travel Fund can be found at The Higher Education Academy


Monday, 24 March 2014

University – NGO collaborations support veterinary students

Last weekend the Liverpool University Veterinary Zoological Society help their annual symposium, inviting speakers from Chester Zoo, the British Veterinary Zoological Society. The Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS), and the Jeanne Marchig international Centre for Animal Welfare Education. The JMICAWE work with WVS to support and promote humane dog management and rabies control strategies in India, and has also offered expertise in mass dog rescue, and in brown bear veterinary care.

At the symposium, Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE outlined the challenges of veterinary work overseas and highlighted her work in collaboration with WVS and Animals Asia to address medical issues in captive bears rescued from the dancing bear trade in Serbia.

Heather commented

“Overseas work can be extremely challenging – there is often a lack of specialist equipment and expertise. Whilst our intentions in undertaking challenges overseas may be good, it is vital that we consider the experience of the animals receiving ‘well-intentioned’ treatment and ensure that we are not inadvertently creating welfare problems. It is easy for enthusiastic students to find themselves in difficult situations, and whilst volunteering overseas can be hugely rewarding, charities like WVS also offer students the support they need when venturing into overseas veterinary work.”

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Visiting the Brooke’s Equine welfare projects in India

It was a real privilege for the Director of the JMICAWE, Prof Nat Waran, to spend a few days in the company of The Brooke India team and Brooke UK Head of research, Dr Karen Reed, on a recent trip to India. The Brooke is an international animal welfare charity with a focus on improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in some of the world's poorest communities. In India there are an estimated 1.2 million equines. Most of these are working animals, pulling loads in places like the brick kilns near to Delhi, where they may cart around 4,000 bricks a day, helping their owner to earn 400 Indian Rupees or about £5.50 a day. With half the money going into feeding their horse, this leaves very little to feed and clothe the family.

The Brooke charity supports Indian equine owners to improve the health and welfare of their animal by providing knowledge, advise and practical help, and in doing so this helps to improve the welfare of the family who rely so heavily on that animal. Whilst in with the local team members, Prof Nat visited five different brick kilns as well as a women’s group. She was impressed by the progress that had been made through the Brooke’s input and the variety of community based approaches used for helping people to come up with their own solutions. The Brooke teams do this through using a human development tool called Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) which uses group exercises, role plays and pictures, and example to share information between participants and they encourage communities themselves to come up with solutions, providing additional input where necessary. For example, in the brick Kiln visited,  strips from old rubber tyres were being used to make a safer and more comfortable place to tether animals than the previously used inflexible and hazardous wooden posts. The main aims of the various approaches used are all in line with the following which are all about;

  • Ensuring that separate water facilities, shelter, provision of first aid, local health practitioners and even road surfaces are available at all brick kiln sites.
  • Teaching equine owners to adopt welfare friendly practices and animal husbandry skills 
  • Encouraging animal-owning communities to establish self-help groups with their own bank accounts, to overcome issues with credit.