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: http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degrees?cw_xml=details.php&id=788
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: http://www.thebrooke.org/         

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.

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.