Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Horse welfare high on the agenda at the British Horse Society welfare conference held at Aintree

Last month Programme Co-ordinator for the MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour & Animal Welfare, Dr Tamsin Coombs attended the BHS Welfare Conference 2015: Unlocking the Secrets of Horse Behaviour at Aintree racecourse. The conference was chaired by Professor Natalie Waran, Director of the Jeanne Marchig Centre and hosted an interesting panel of speakers.
•    Dr Matthew Leach of Newcastle University’s Centre for Behaviour and Evolution presented work on the development of ‘The Horse Grimace Scale’ as a tool to assess pain in horses.
•    Dr Joe Pagan of Kentucky Equine Research was the keynote speaker and talked about the science behind feeding to prevent behaviour issues.
•    Dr Sebastian McBride presented his research on equine stereotypic behaviour.

•    Welfare veterinary surgeons Nic De Brauwere and Roxane Kirton of Redwings Horse Sanctuary talked about the risk to welfare from the development of behavioural problems before discussing the practical solutions which included the application of learning theory in training and retraining welfare cases.
 •    Horse trainer Jason Webb provided a practical demonstration focusing on the retraining of racehorses.
Tamsin, an Equine Science graduate herself, is working to increase the emphasis on equine behaviour and welfare within dissertation projects available to the MSc students. She found the day to be both interesting and informative and was particularly encouraged by the positive reaction from the BHS members who had attended. She noted that there appears to be an appetite for information on the behaviour and welfare of horses so it is important that we find a way to disseminate our research to horse owners.
A great day of talks on behavioural and physiological studies demonstrating the importance of applying an evidence based approach to equine welfare.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

WAZA Conference launches animal welfare strategy

World Association of Zoos and Aquaria launches strategy for animal welfare

This month the World Association for Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA) launched two innovative new strategies at its annual conference in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE was pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to both the animal welfare and conservation strategies, and was also delighted to represent the JMICAWE as an invited plenary speaker on the topic of animal welfare, at the WAZA conference.
The new WAZA animal welfare strategy focuses on providing optimal welfare in the captive setting, using David Mellor’s Five Domains framework to support positive animal welfare.

 Both strategies may be downloaded at

Monday, 16 November 2015

Animal Behaviour Society guest lecture - 18th November @ 1pm

JMICAWE is delighted to announce the Animal Behaviour Society's next guest lecture.

We will be joined at The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies by Pippa Hutchison, MSc, Dip(AS), CCAB, for a talk on small animal behaviour. The talk, Human-Animal Interaction: Maintaining the bond, will look at owners and their pets and will examine common cases of problem behaviours in cats and dogs, such as aggression and anxiety.

The talk is on Wednesday, 18th November, at 1pm in Lecture Theatre 1. There will also be free chocolate!

Pippa Hutchison is a clinical animal behaviourist accredited by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) and is RCVS recognised as a Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist. She has a particular interest in the reinstatement and improvement of the human-animal bond through behaviour modification programmes.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Bringing International Bear-Care to Vietnam

Last week allowed JMICAWE's veterinarian Heather Bacon to get back in the field with work at the Hanoi zoo, Thu Le wild animal park, and Animals Asia Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre (VBRC).  At the Hanoi zoo, she teamed up with a vet and nurse from VBRC to perform dental extractions on two bears with horribly fractured teeth. We ran the session as a teaching exercise, involving the eleven Hanoi zoo vets in various clinical procedures and discussing our approach to anaesthesia, analgesia and dental extractions with them.
The Director of the Zoo, Chairman Dang commented “On behalf of the board of management and staff of Hanoi zoo, I would like to express our sincere 'Thank-you' to the team who performed the health check on our bears yesterday, for the meaningful and hard works for the sake of our two bears. Through this workshop, our vets and keepers at the zoo have learnt a lot about practical skills.

Next it was up to the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, an incredible sanctuary where bears rescued from trade and bile farms are rescued and rehabilitated after extensive medical and behavioural therapy.  Here we anaesthetised three bears all with gallstones inside painful and inflamed gall bladders – a legacy of the horrific bear bile trade. Fortunately bears cope very well without their gallbladders and Heather was able to train the VBRC vets in this uncommon surgery to remove the gallbladders, all of which showed signs of repeated bile extraction.
Back in Hanoi we welcomed over 70 International delegates to the Advancing Bear Care workshop (www.bearcaregroup.org ) focused specifically on the care and rehabilitation of bears in the Asia region, and including delegates from Vietnamese rescue centres and zoos. The workshop featured presentations from a variety of organisations in the region and highlighted the need for collaborative strategies to address the welfare and conservation issues generated by the illegal wildlife trade.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Animal Welfare high on the agenda for student vet nurses travelling to India

Having a well-trained and compassionate vet nurse working in a clinic is important for both the smooth day to day running of the practice and also patient welfare. We are fortunate in the UK that veterinary nursing is a recognised profession, has a solid training programme in place and that the protected title is, hopefully, on its way. But what happens when a country has no such dedicated nursing support in place in its clinics?

JMICAWE veterinary nurse Hayley Walters has lived and worked in several developing countries and visited numerous vet schools, teaching hospitals and first opinion practices and noted that while many of the staff are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about their patients and profession, there can often be a noticeable difference in the level of care an animal receives during surgery and in the recovery period after. Basic nursing, such as providing a comfortable bed, maintaining a good hydration status or being able to recognise and treat pain, is often absent and animals can be left compromised through benign neglect. With a lack of training or understanding of patients’ needs and few staff solely dedicated to inpatient care, the problem can be seen in even the most well-meaning of practices.

On the 11th of November this year Hayley and Heather Bacon will be teaming up with VN Karen Hibbel and vet Andrew Coe from the Edinburgh Napier University and taking 8 student veterinary nurses to India for two weeks to Kerala Veterinary Animal Science University, one of India’s most respected veterinary universities.  This will be the first time this has ever happened and will be mutually beneficial for the British SVNs and the Indian vet students, technicians and lecturers who are currently responsible for inpatient acre. The British SVNs will get the opportunity to experience a different culture whilst nursing in challenging situations often with limited resources, and the Indian vet students will learn the newest nursing techniques, pain recognition and how to implement an inpatient care plan.

Dr David Smith, Veterinary Nursing Programme Leader at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “Developments within veterinary training institutes across the world have often concentrated on investments in technologically advanced equipment and training of veterinary surgeons. However, good welfare of hospitalised animals starts before the consultation room and long after medical or surgical intervention; this is the domain of the veterinary nurse.”

The 8 SVNs had to go through a Dragon’s Den style interview process and have been fundraising hard to pay for the trip. One of those going is Kirsty Dougherty. “Being able to enhance the lives of the individual animals we meet, even in a small way, will be incredibly rewarding. Being able, through education and collaboration with the Indian veterinary profession, to improve the lives and welfare of many animals into the future, in a long-lasting and sustainable way, would be an unbelievable privilege”.

The objectives are to improve patient welfare through the nursing profession and ultimately collaborate on India’s first ever veterinary nurse training programme. They will be working in the veterinary hospital every day and giving nursing workshops and lectures in the evening to all staff and students. We hope that when they leave they will realise just how invaluable VNs are to the clinic, how fundamental they are to improving patient welfare and hopefully miss them desperately!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Improving welfare in Vietnamese Veterinary Education

Last week Heather of the JMICAWE made a return visit to the Hanoi National University of Agriculture, a longterm collaborator with the JMICAWE.  Heather first visited the University in 2012 to co-deliver a National workshop on Veterinary Education alongside Professor Natalie Waran and RVN Hayley Walters of the JMICAWE, and funded by Animals Asia. Since them she’s also visited to discuss curriculum reviews and the use of animals in education.  This visit included discussion of ongoing animal welfare research at the university on different housing systems for pigs, and delivery of Animal welfare lectures to over 200 veterinary and animal science students. Heather also met with lecturers who are currently proposing a curriculum review and wanting to move away from traditional didactic learning to more innovative methods, including, where possible, phasing out the use of animals in teaching.

Speaking from Vietnam Heather said “It’s been really exciting to see the developments at HNAU over the past few years. The progressive and collaborative approach of the staff here mean that effective animal welfare education is a reality for many Vietnamese veterinary and animal science students, and I look forward to the proposed changes and future research and educational collaborations

Rare native breed ‘Dragon’ Chickens so called for their large feet at HNAU

Heather with students at HNAU



Thursday, 5 November 2015

What's The Impact of a MOOC?

Our Animal Behaviour and Welfare MOOC has been running in it's new 'on-demand' format for a little under a week now and a whole new set of students are getting a chance to learn about animal behaviour and welfare, but does that learning actually make a difference?

We were lucky enough today to be visited by one of our MOOC students, Hilda Hermann. Hilda is the Project Coordinator for Outreach KZN, an animal sterilisation and vaccination project in South Africa. In the three and a half years that Hilda has been working with the project, they've sterilised over 27 000 animals.

Many of the staff at Outreach KZN took part in the MOOC and Hilda gave us lots of valuable feedback about what worked in the course, what was difficult, and what people would like to see more of.

But our favourite part was hearing how useful the staff found the MOOC. Working in rural parts of South Africa it can be difficult finding educational resources that fit into busy working lives and schedules, and we think the new on-demand MOOC will be an even greater help in getting the animal welfare message out there at a time and in a format that suits learners.

We also loved this picture of the animal care staff at Outreach KZN with their certificates - it certainly made our week hearing about the impact the course has had!

If you'd like to take the course you can sign up via Coursera by clicking here. You can share your stories about the MOOC in the comments, or on Twitter by tweeting us @JMICAWE or using the #EdAniWelf hashtag. 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Animal Behaviour and Welfare MOOC - Now On Demand

We are really excited to announce that the Animal Behaviour and Welfare MOOC from Coursera is now live and on demand.

You can join the course by clicking on this link and signing in or registering with Coursera.

Nat, Fanta and our cameraman Tim preparing a lecture

What is an on-demand course? 
On-Demand courses can be accessed at any time, and you can take as long as you need to finish the materials and earn your certificate. This means that you'll be able to view the lectures and engage with your fellow students forever.

Could I used the materials to teach with?
Yes! We would be more than happy for you to point your students towards the course or to download the videos and use them yourself to teach animal welfare. All we ask is that you don't change the materials (so don't edit the videos or take our name off them).

Can I still get a certificate?
The On-Demand courses only offer the Verified Certificate, which is a paid certificate. When you start a quiz, Coursera will ask you to verify your identity using a webcam and your typing speed. If you want to earn a certificate, you will need to verify your identity at the start of each quiz.

Why did you do away with the free certificate?
Unfortunately this was Coursera's decision. There  is financial aid available through Coursera for the Verified Certificates.

Will you still be on the forums and run Hangouts?
We have a number of postgraduate students helping us out on the forums and we'll be there too, but on-demand courses are designed to be more independent. We are planning on running Hangouts when there is a demand for them.

How successful was the old session-based course?
We were absolutely delighted with the session-based courses. Over the two sessions we ran over 50,000 people signed up with 37,279 students watching at least some of the lectures. We awarded 9029 certificates of completion. Over 27% of our students came from emerging economies and 66% held an undergraduate degree or higher

So come along and join in, you can tweet us @JMICAWE or use the #EdAniWelf hashtag.

We'll see you there!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

International Companion Animal welfare Conference promotes the need for an evidence based approach

This month, the JMICAWE was delighted to be invited to present at the annual International Conference on Companion Animal Welfare, Hosted by the Dog’s trust in Porto, Portugal.

The conference showcased the work being done around the world to improve dog and cat welfare by organisations such as Dog’s Trust, IFAW, Mission Rabies, Nowzad, and Change for Animals Foundation, as well as including presentations from Rachel Casey of the University of Bristol and our own Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE.

Speaking at the conference Heather said;

This is a great opportunity to engage with stakeholders working in all aspects of dog and cat welfare – from TNR projects to shelters to pet dogs and cats, the ubiquitous nature of our companion animals means that we often rely on tradition or assumptions to manage them, but conferences like this promote the communication of evidence-based approaches to dealing with thorny issues such as overpopulation, rehoming, or behavioural problems.”

Heather’s presentation – on the evaluation of dog welfare in TNR projects highlighted the importance of the individual, even in large scale population control effort. She presented the results of work carried out by the JMICAWE team in India and Africa, funded by the Dogs Trust,  to develop a method for assessing the welfare of the individual animal before, during and after experiencing a 'Trap, Neuter and Return' programme.  

The conference also included the second annual meeting of the EU Dog and Cat alliance – a multidisciplinary group working on dog and cat relevant health and welfare issues across the EU http://www.dogandcatwelfare.eu/

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Animal Welfare Masters students visit the Highland Wildlife Park

This year's MSc Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare students enjoying a visit to the RZSS's Highland Wildlife Park.
This year we welcomed 38 Postgraduate students from various parts of the world, to study on the on-campus Masters programme in Applied animal behaviour and welfare.  As part of their studies, the students recently enjoyed a visit to the Highland Wildlife Park (RZSS)in Aviemore, where they got the chance to carry out animal welfare assessments on certain enclosures and then discuss their findings with the HWP staff. The HWP keepers and management were very interested to hear the comments and suggestions made by our students, and promised to consider them as part of their regular animal welfare audits. The University of Edinburgh and the RZSS have had a long and productive relationship, and regularly work together to develop and deliver high quality education and research to enhance captive animal health and welfare. The visit to the HWP provided these international students to learn more about the conservation work being carried out there to benefit native Scottish Species, as well as to showcase the beauty of the Scottish Highlands. What a great way to learn!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

New Video: Dog Welfare in Trap-Neuter-Return Programmes

We're very excited to announce the launch of our new video on YouTube, created in partnership with the Dog's Trust.

The Dog's Trust awarded the JMICAWE a grant to investigate dog welfare in Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programmes. This method is advocated by animal welfare organisations and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). However, with high targets for the TNR programmes in many countries, we need to ensure that we are not putting individual dog welfare at risk in order to achieve population control.

In this video, Heather Bacon, our Veterinary Welfare Education and Outreach manager talks about some of the work we've been doing with the Dog's Trust to understand and measure welfare in a TNR programme.

As Heather says, dog population management is a global issue. A good TNR programme will protect dog populations by improving their health, their relationships with the human community and controlling their population size. But a good TNR programme also needs to consider the use of welfare measures to monitor dog welfare while they are going through the programme.

Edinburgh Veterinary Nurses share Animal Welfare expertise in India

Animal welfare experts and veterinary nurse students are travelling to India to help raise standards of care for sick animals. They will share knowledge and demonstrate clinical techniques and interventions that can significantly improve animals’ quality of life.
Animal Welfare experts from the University of Edinburgh’s Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education will be joined by students from Edinburgh Napier University on the 10-day trip to work with colleagues at the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University. This builds on the four year relationship that has been developed between Edinburgh and Kerala to support staff capacity building in teaching animal health and welfare.

Veterinary Nursing and Animal Welfare

Developments within veterinary training institutes across the world have often concentrated on investments in technologically advanced equipment and training of veterinary surgeons. However, good welfare of hospitalised animals starts before the consultation room and long after medical or surgical intervention; this is the domain of the veterinary nurse. Through this project we hope to raise awareness of the vital role of veterinary nurses in improving care for animals that require medical attention. Currently there is no official recognised veterinary nurse training scheme or qualification in India, despite the country’s booming pet population. The Edinburgh team of vets, veterinary nurses and animal welfare scientists will work with colleagues in Kerala to provide training in animal nursing care and will demonstrate how vets and veterinary nurses should work side by side to provide for the health and welfare needs of animals through the whole veterinary experience.
An animal’s experience can be improved dramatically when nursing care is provided by a knowledgeable, well trained and compassionate individual. Veterinary nurses are in the perfect position to do this.
Hayley Walters
Welfare Veterinary Nurse, Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education

Best practice

They will also share best practices in hygiene and infection control and explain how to recognise and manage pain in animals. In return, the Edinburgh students will benefit from being exposed to veterinary practices in a different environment, tackling problems they may not have encountered elsewhere.
We are excited to have the opportunity to learn from our colleagues in India and to experience caring for animals in an environment that brings challenges we haven’t faced before.
Natalie Maxwell
Veterinary Nursing student, Edinburgh Napier University

Animal Welfare Education

Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University is one of India’s well respected veterinary universities. It delivers annual workshops on animal welfare teaching in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh. The visit and workshop will take place in November 2015. The students, who have begun fundraising for the trip, will track their experiences through a blog. So watch this space.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Animal Welfare a priority for European zoos

EAZA Poland 2015

Last month Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE was in Wroclaw, Poland to deliver key training on zoo animal welfare at the annual conference of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.

Attended by 700 representatives from zoos as far away as China, the USA and Russia, the annual EAZA conference is able impact globally on the understanding of key zoo animal welfare issues.

During the conference Heather was involved in delivering two workshops and a plenary presentation on various aspects of zoo animal welfare. Additionally EAZA has announced the formation of a new Animal Welfare Working Group to specifically address questions from members about animal welfare.

Speaking from Wroclaw, Heather said “It is extremely positive that EAZA – an organisation with 293 zoo members, is focussing on developing capacity in animal welfare. This positive engagement is a crucial step in promoting good welfare for zoo animals throughout Europe and beyond. Whilst zoos may be  ethically controversial, it is important to engage with the zoo community in the same way that we engage with farmers, veterinarians and researchers, to promote effective education, and good standards of animal welfare, across all communities.”

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

From Edinburgh to Japan; Animal Welfare takes Centre Stage

Last month, Professor and Centre Director of JMICAWE, Nat Waran gave a plenary talk at the ISAE conference in Hokkaido on Companion animal welfare conundrums, as well as providing a talk on 'Going Glocal' to solve animal welfare issues.

ISAE September 2015

The International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE), celebrates its 50th Anniversary in Edinburgh next year, when we are expecting more than 500 animal behaviour and welfare scientists to be in attendance. 

The Japan trip didn't end there.
Japan's population of pets is growing rapidly and with international concerns for animal welfare rising, Japanese researchers, veterinarians and government officials are keen to learn more about why animal welfare matters in countries elsewhere. Centre director, Prof Nat Waran and SRUCs Dr Fritha Langford, were invited speakers in Tokyo, where they provided talks at Tokyo and Teikyo Universities as well as during a workshop on "why animal welfare matters" .