Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Animal Welfare Indicators (AWIN) project – Inaugural Conference in Norway

Last week Fritha Langford (who works with JMICAWE on their new online MSc) attended the Animal Welfare Indicators (AWIN) project first conference in Oscarsborg, Norway. All of the research teams presented their work from the first year of the project covering the five main AWIN species: sheep, goats, horses, donkeys and turkeys.
The conference was given details of research investigating feasible ways of assessing indicators of welfare on-farm or on sports-horse stables. The AWIN project is particularly focused on assessing pain and disease in animals as an aspect of welfare often ignored in current welfare inspections. Additionally, we heard about new studies looking into early environment effects on animal welfare and the possibilities for using facial expression in many animal species to assess changes in welfare –predominantly when animals are in pain, with the potential to assist veterinarians and animal owners in providing pain relief or other care more quickly.
One of the unique aspects of the AWIN project is the focus on animal welfare education and dissemination of science to farmers, animal owners, stakeholders and other interested persons. Fritha and her AWIN colleagues unveiled the new online portal that has been designed to provide a hub for animal welfare science information to many different audience types. It is called the Animal Welfare Science Hub (www.animalwelfarehub.com) and over the coming months we hope it will build to be the one-stop-shop for animal welfare education worldwide. The AW Education section of the hub is open and ready for use. Visitors to the Hub can already interact with some of the premade learning materials and within the next few weeks the ‘sharing facility’ will become open for use, allowing course organisers from across the globe to upload the details of their courses allowing students to search for courses in an easy and reliable manner. Please visit the Hub to find out more.
The AWIN project is funded by the EU VII Framework Program

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Hayley Walters joins the R(D)SVS Team

We are delighted that Hayley Walters joined the R(D)SVS on 14 May 2012, as our Anaesthesia and Welfare Veterinary Nurse and will split her time between working here at Easter Bush and supporting JMICAWE work.
Hayley will be using her veterinary nurse skills and overseas experience (acquired whilst working with Animals Asia), to provide veterinary nursing support for Heather Bacon in our outreach projects in Asia. She will also work with Eddie Clutton and the anaesthesia team at Easter Bush as well as providing support for animal welfare education to veterinary undergraduates.
One of Hayley's objectives is to work with the JMICAWE team to educate and change people's deep-set, often historical attitudes to animal welfare with the aim to eradicate all animal suffering throughout the world. Sadly, Hayley saw first hand the misery man can inflict on animals during her three and a half-year spell at the moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu, China. Asiatic black bears or Moon bears - named after the cream-coloured crescent moon patch on their chest - are kept in cages the same size as their own bodies and have their bile extraced daily to use in traditional Chinese medicine. Animals Asia rescues these bears and rehabilitates them into semi natural enclosures, never to be abused or tortured again.
She knows, too, that dog and cat meat regularly appears on restaurant menus in Asia, that performing animals in Chinese zoos, circuses and safari parks are often abused and that local vets - while keen to advance their knowledge - struggle with outdated teaching methods and treatments. She hopes that her work will help to drive up veterinary standards through strong links between the Dick Vet school and National and International Universities. Hayley believes that as standards of care for animals improve, tighter laws and legislation should follow, both here in the UK and throughout Asia and the rest of the world.
Hayley said "I feel very privileged to be a part of The University of Edinburgh veterinary team and look forward to the challenges and projects ahead. Animal welfare is one of my hugest passions and I am very happy to be involved in something that will change and improve the lives of animals here and overseas."

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) forum, London.

We were delighted that Fritha Langford, was invited by the BVA to represent the JMICAWE and the Animal Welfare Indicators project at this year's Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) forum, that was held on Monday 14 May in London.
The programme began with three engaging talks, coming under the heading of 'Using and abusing: animals for human benefit'. David Martin (BVA Ethics and Welfare Group) discussed livestock shows and a secret underworld of manipulation that breeders carry out on their livestock in a bid to come first in their class.
Fritha particularly enjoyed the session called 'The green, green grass of home, do cows belong in fields? Behavioural and clinical evidence'. Where John Fishwick (RVC) gave an explanation of practises used within large and small scale systems of cattle farming and talked of his experiences of 'mega dairies' in Saudi Arabia. Becky Whay (University of Bristol) then continued the discussion and looked at the behavioural needs of cows and cited some interesting research carried out.
The veterinary ethics role-play and discussion that closed the event was a thought provoking and useful way of presenting ethical dilemmas to a large audience and extremely good fun.
All attendees felt that the 2012 AWF forum was a huge success, provoking many ethical discussions and certainly gave attendees food for thought.

Programme details attached –

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The first debate of the Veterinary Ethics Forum - was a great success!

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education was delighted to support the first debate organised by the student-led Veterinary Ethics Forum.
After an introduction to the issues surrounding selective breeding for specific aesthetic, behavioural or functional traits by Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE, the group of 30-40 veterinary students debated the topic of "At what point does breeding animals for traits become unacceptable?” facilitated by Dr Andrew Gardiner.

Olivia Nathan, the student chair said of the event:

“In the initial debate, breed standards were hauled over the coals and health and welfare were unanimously decided to be at least somewhat compromised in exchange for other traits by many breeders of both companion and livestock species! But how much is too much? We had some great discussion, with people comparing and contrasting dog breeding with farming, questioning the rights of a regulatory body to impose restrictions on an entire group of dogs, discussing what vets could do to have a direct impact and trying to figure out where to draw the line.”

Both staff and students are looking forward to the next meeting and future discussions.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Spotting the link between animal abuse and domestic abuse – can you?

An initiative has been launched in Scotland to help vets uncover and tackle domestic abuse where an animal is also being harmed. Research and clinical evidence increasingly suggests links between the abuse of children, vulnerable adults and animals and vets are being asked to join their human medicine counterparts in making the links and tackling abuse.

The launch of the Domestic Abuse Veterinary Initiative (DAVI), an initiative by Scottish charity Medics Against Violence (MAV), follows the success of a similar initiative with dentists.

According to the police it takes, on average, 35 previous incidents of abuse before a victim feels able to report it. To encourage those suffering domestic abuse to report, a range of strategies and support systems have been put in place which are endorsed and practised by many of the professionals the victim may come into contact with, including doctors and dentists and now veterinary surgeons too.

The Veterinary Defence Society (VDS) receives an average of 5 calls a month from vets asking for advice on suspected animal cruelty and abuse cases. Because of the vet-client relationship, members of the veterinary team are also in an ideal position to notice changes in someone’s appearance or behaviour. By expressing concern, vets could give an abused client the confidence to seek help.

The practice note will be supported by more detailed online guidance notes provided by the Links Group. The practice note folds out into an A2 poster which sets out four simple steps (AVDR) to help vets seize the “golden moment” to uncover abuse while acknowledging that the vet is not an expert in human abuse and limiting the vet’s further involvement.

Vets may follow a similar approach to the four steps named in the AVDR approach (which was developed by Dr Barbara Gerbert, University of California, for dentists):

- Asking the clients about abuse
- providing Validating messages acknowledging that violence is wrong and confirming the client’s worth
- Documenting history, presenting signs and disclosures in notes and if possible, with relevant images (for example, x rays or computer images or photographs)
- Referring victims to domestic abuse specialists in the community

The RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons covers animal abuse in the client confidentiality section (http://www.rcvs.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/code-of-professional-conduct-for-veterinary-surgeons/supporting-guidance/client-confidentiality/)

Further information will shortly be available on the Veterinary Defence Society website www.thevds.co.uk

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Veterinary Ethics Forum

We are delighted to announce that a student-led group called the Veterinary Ethics Forum has been established at Easter Bush, and is welcoming all staff, UG students and PG students to join. The group is an informal society who hope to meet on a regular basis to listen to external speakers on animal welfare and animal ethics, as well as organising other events to encourage students to think about issues surrounding animal science and set up regular online ethical discussions on their blog and facebook site. They have only recently been formed, but will be actively recruiting members and supporters throughout the summer and at Freshers Week in September 2012. Anyone is welcome to their events - just contact their Chairman, Ms Liv Nathan by emailing - vetethics@groups.facebook.com for details. Or simply visit their facebook site - http://www.facebook.com/groups/vetethics/members.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Great attendance at Edinburgh University's inaugural laboratory animal welfare symposium

It is good to report that 120 of the University's research scientists registered to attend the laboratory animal welfare symposium last week. The event organised by the University's animal welfare committee in partnership with the JMICAWE, aimed to bring together those involved in animal research to consider laboratory animal welfare advances and the use of alternatives. The audience heard from excellent internal and externally based speakers about the importance of good experimental design, tissue engineering as superior replacements for in vivo experiments, imaging as a means to reduce and replace the use of animals and pain assessment and management. A good number of researchers and technicians competed for the JMICAWE animal alternatives awards and we were delighted to recognise the work of three of the University's staff members for their significant contribution to the development of advances that have the potential to reduce and replace animal use and improve animal welfare. In particular the judging panel were keen to reward the work of a group of researchers who had developed an in vitro model of central nervous system remyelination to enable them to replace animal use whilst investigating effective therapies to treat Multiple Sclerosis. Feedback for the event was extremely positive and it has been decided that this will be an annual event.

Feeding a Food Hungry World and Sustaining Animal Welfare Standards

Last week, Director of the JMICAWE, Professor Natalie Waran, was invited by the Association of Veterinary teaching and research workers to give a plenary talk as part of the British Society for Animal Science conference in Nottingham. The two day conference brought together researchers, policy makers, vets, farmers and industry representatives to debate the issues and challenges associated with producing food from healthy animals that is healthy for consumers, economically sustainable and from systems that benefit the environment and encompass good welfare and ethics. In the 30 minute presentation entitled 'Can we sustain Welfare Standards in a food hungry world'?, Prof Waran described the extent of the issue, with 9 billion people worldwide, and around 925 million people undernourished and a need to double food production in Asia over the next 30 years to feed a rapidly expanding world population. With the demand for food from animals rising as a result of population growth and a more urban based population demanding a diet containing more meat, dairy and eggs – animal welfare is of real concern. Prof Waran discussed the link between human health and animal health and welfare – and highlighted the importance of constantly improving animal welfare standards for reducing on-farm risks to food safety and ensuring food security. Along with reducing meat intake, refining methods for producing animal products, she considered the potential of replacing meat with plant based protein as well as the potential for GM and growing meat in a test tube and the importance of addressing over consumption and food waste. Finally she raised the important issue of responsibility – suggesting that government,corporate and personal responsibility for food distribution, food production and food wastage as well as greater funding to achieve science and technology advances geared towards the issues faced by the developing countries were needed, alongside improved education and communication about the relationship between good animal welfare standards and human health and welfare- if we are to effectively tackle the problem of how to feed our growing world.