Monday, 29 October 2012

Partnership with Chinese Veterinary Medical Association

Edinburgh University partners with Chinese Veterinary Medical Association to help strengthen Animal Welfare in China.

This month sees the exciting fruition of many months of work by the staff working in The University of Edinburgh’s Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE) and the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) to bring together experts from Mainland China, the UK, Thailand and Hong Kong to discuss the role of the veterinarian in animal welfare in China.

With increasing globalisation, the development of industrialised farming, and a burgeoning pet industry, China’s veterinary profession is under increasing pressure to meet international expectations relating to animal welfare standards, and this is something the CVMA are eager to embrace.  To this end, a three-day session at the CVMA’s 3rd China Veterinary Conference in Suzhou is dedicated to animal welfare.

The meeting will cover animal welfare issues relating to a range of industries and species including companion animals, livestock, laboratory and wildlife species. Topics will include humane use of animals in education, meeting the OIE minimum competencies in Animal Welfare, humane slaughter, production animal welfare, animal welfare in scientific research, and improving welfare in the veterinary clinic.

The Animal Welfare Session at the 3rd annual Chinese Veterinary Conference will build on work initiated by the CVMA, the JMICAWE, and the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Animals (HKSPCA) in 2011 to develop international knowledge transfer partnerships in animal welfare through the first Asian Symposium on Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law, held in Hong Kong. The Session is also supported by the Animals Asia Foundation (AAF) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

Professor Natalie Waran, Director of the JMICAWE says “These collaborative activities are representative of the increasing importance of animal welfare education in international veterinary training. The links between animal welfare and animal health are well recognised, and the ethical responsibility of the veterinary profession to act as ambassadors for animal welfare is increasingly important in today’s society.”

Associated links:

Friday, 26 October 2012

Animal Welfare Workshop at Nanjing Agricultural University, a great success.

Heather Bacon, our outreach veterinarian and Hayley Walters, a veterinary nurse at the R(D)SVS , have enjoyed working with the Nanjing Agricultural University in delivering a week of animal welfare teaching to undergraduate veterinary students.

The training delivers important animal welfare and clinical skills teaching utilising humane education techniques and is supported by Professor Fei Rong Mei an OIE representative and Animal Welfare lecturer at NAU, and Lisa Yang and Xin Pei of Animals Asia’s animal welfare team.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Fireworks and Animal Welfare concerns

This weekend is Halloween and soon it will be Guy Fawkes Night!

Every year thousands of pets are caused unnecessary distress, fear and suffering as a consequence of fireworks and animal welfare charities are striving to raise public awareness of the problems caused to both domestic pets and wildlife.  We urge pet owners to be aware that fire-work displays and the associated unpredictable loud noises and bright lights produced by modern pyrotechnic devices can cause disturbance for many species of domestic and wild animals.

Prof Nat Waran of the University of Edinburgh’s Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education reports that there are many studies showing the extent of welfare problems for animals at this time of year. In a study carried out by our colleagues, with more than 1000 responses to a pet survey carried out in 2005, relating to 3527 dogs and cats, almost 50 per cent of the pets showed negative responses to fireworks. Fear of fireworks resulted in dogs exhibiting active fear behaviours, whereas cats were more likely to exhibit hiding and cowering behaviours. Prof Waran says that the animals’ responses to fireworks ranged from trembling and hiding, to escape and destructive acts, and a number of pets (51) were injured while trying to escape or hide. Even laying hens have been found to a reduce egg production on the day after a nearby fireworks display, and there are numerous reports of disturbance to wildlife, and horses running through their field fences due to panic.

Whilst banning the private sale of fireworks may solve some of the problems, there is still a need for pet owners to take steps to prevent fear of fireworks from developing in their pets from a young age.

Owners should plan ahead by consulting their veterinarian and/or a qualified animal behaviour expert well before Guy Fawkes Night, so that they can prevent their pet from suffering any unnecessary distress. For tips and guidelines, please visit -

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Announcing the 2012/13 International Animal Welfare and Ethics Winter Series of Talks

In collaboration with our animal welfare colleagues in the Scotland’s Rural College (SRuC) and the RDSVS student led Veterinary Ethics Forum, the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education is pleased to be able to welcome a number of high profile animal welfare and ethics speakers to the vet school this winter.
The talks will take place during evening or lunchtime sessions, and started last week with an excellent talk by Dr Dorothy McKeegan of Glasgow University on animal ethics for veterinarians and animal scientists.
Over the course of the next few months, speakers will address issues ranging from bear conservation and captive bear welfare, animal birth control programmes in India, to the role of the vet in animal welfare and a debate on transgenics and ethics.
The sessions are open to all students, staff and colleagues from the wider University of Edinburgh community.  Please email if you have any queries.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Student's Vet Ethics Forum

On behalf of Liv Nathan, the staff and students here at Easter Bush Campus, we would like to thank Dr Dorothy McKeegan for coming to give us an excellent talk last night.


Dr McKeegan spoke about how each day in animal science and veterinary medicine presents a new set of ethical quandaries: whether it's devising an experiment in line with Britain's welfare standards, or whether making the decision to treat (or not) that poor dog that's on its last legs.

She explained that students might not be familiar with the intricacies of the ethics involved in their current situation: and hoped that this talk would assist us. In fact we learnt where our personal views lie compared to common ethical profiles and what defines our attitudes towards animals within and without science. 
This was a fantastic lecture, and we definitely left with much to think about and to discuss.

Please do come along to support the next lecture for the Veterinary Ethics Forum on Tuesday 23 October.

We also hope to have the next one recorded so we can post it on the Jeanne Marching Centre's website for all our global supporters to watch online- check

Veterinary attitudes towards pre-pubertal gonadectomy of cats: A comparison of samples from New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

The owned cat population is continuing to increase as are the number of free-living cats and those relinquished at welfare centres. 

Sterilisation is perhaps the most effective and humane population management tool and the sooner it is implemented the less likely accidental pregnancies are. As such, veterinarians (as well as owners) are pivotal in ensuring that pre-pubertal sterilisation (PPS) takes place. Current literature suggests that PPS is more likely to be considered for cats that are in welfare centres and less so for companion cats. However, accidental pregnancies are likely and are not contingent upon ownership status.

This research sought to establish how practitioners view PPS. It demonstrated that veterinarians who provide welfare centre/shelter services perform PPS at an earlier age. Likewise, veterinarians in New Zealand and Australia consider PPS more acceptable and implement it at an earlier age than veterinarians in the UK. We propose that this may have three core causes:
1) That cats are considered more ecologically destructive in NZ and Australia and this is reflected in wider veterinary and public opinion
2) That the cat specific guidelines for sterilsation, endorsed by the Veterinary Associations in these three countries, differ and therefore drive this difference
3) The sampling method may have resulted in the differences observed.

We conclude that the non-acceptance of PPS by practitioners (and owners who are not addressed in this work) leaves a significant window of opportunity for unwanted pregnancies to occur perpetuating the issues surrounding the free-roaming and unwanted cat populations. 

The full article by Mark Farnworth, a PhD student associated with JMICAWE and Unitec NZ Institute of Technology is in the New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 11 October 2012.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Last week the JMICAWE hosted three of our colleagues from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), who will be supporting the MSc International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law.

Cindy Milburn is IFAW's Director of Outreach and Education, Dr Ian Robinson is Director of the Animal Rescue Programme, and Kate Nattrass Atema is Director of the Companion Animal Programme. All three directors will be contributing real life case materials and expertise to support   the MSc IAWEL in delivering practical, front-line animal welfare teaching with a global focus.

Programme Director Fritha Langford introduced the IFAW staff to our cuttting edge e-learning platform technology, demonstrating the students' uses of discussion boards, wikis, and interactive lectures. After a live lecture by Dr Marie Haskell of Scotland's Rural University College, Cindy and Ian were able to interact directly with students around the globe to discover what they felt about the course so far.

The MSc IAWEL offers a unique opportunity to share experiences amongst students from diverse backgrounds, and deliver world-class education in animal welfare science, ethics and law.

Cindy Milburn and Ian Robinson interact with MSc IAWEL Students under the tutelege of programme director Fritha Langford.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Ethics of animal training discussed by the RDSVS Student Veterinary Ethics Forum

The question of whether it is ethical to train animals was considered by the RDSVS student veterinary ethics forum at their meeting this week.
The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education’s (JMICAWE) Prof Nat Waran provided an introductory talk in which she highlighted some of the welfare concerns associated with training methods, approaches and equipment as well as some of the potential benefits. At the end of her talk she posed questions about whether there are some species that shouldn’t be trained, how we decide upon acceptable trained behaviours and goals and how training could be regulated.
In the discussion that followed, under the capable chairmanship of third year student, Olivia Nathan, the forum members explored their views on whether it was possible to decide if an animal enjoys being trained, and if so could this be used for deciding whether or not training is acceptable. In addition they considered the interesting question of whether training could be considered as occupational therapy and enriching for captive wild animals with no chance of being released into their natural habitat.
No consensus was reached about whether training in all its forms is ethical, but all agreed that despite the many grey areas, animal training should always adhere to a ‘do no harm’ policy and should only be carried out using humane, high welfare approaches and by ethical trainers with good knowledge of the species normal behaviour and how to properly apply learning theory.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Evidence based equitation workshop as part of the Italian Society for Veterinary Sciences conference in Rome.

Prof Nat Waran of the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE)  was delighted to be invited to present to the Italian Society for Veterinary Sciences (S.I.S. Vet.) at their annual meeting, which this year was held in Rome, in September, entitled ‘The role of horse-human dyad in sport and therapeutic performances’.

Professor Waran  spoke about how an evidence based approach should be used for ensuring the highest welfare standards for horse training and management as well as to assess the way in which they are used in recreation, performance and sport.

Other speakers included Dr Kathalijne Visser-Riedstra, a senior researcher in the Animal Behaviour and Welfare Group of Wageningen UR Livestock Research in the Netherlands as well as colleagues from veterinary departments in Pisa, Messina and Teramo.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Successful launch of new online animal welfare programme

The JMICAWE have developed a new online Masters degree in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law and its inaugural year started on the 17th of September at the R(D)SVS.

We have 35 pioneer students coming from 5 continents and a variety of professional and academic backgrounds, including the veterinary profession, Non-Governmental Organisations and the legal profession. The students are studying a breadth of subjects that are instrumental in animal welfare, from behavioural science to ethical concepts and global legislation.

Dr Fritha Langford, an animal welfare scientist who specialises in dairy cattle welfare and the development of animal welfare education initiatives, has been appointed as the Programme Director.
Dr Langford said “The programme aims to develop students’ understanding of how scientific evidence can be applied to give insight and improve animal welfare standards worldwide while also enhance knowledge of scientific study and research”.

The programme is run by the University of Edinburgh, through their JMICAWE and is in partnership with Scotland's Rural College (SRUC). It is aimed at both UK and international graduate students, enabling them to study flexibly part-time through online learning, and achieve a Certificate, Diploma or Masters degree over one, two or three years.

For further details, please visit

Successful second animal welfare workshop held with the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Science University at their campus in the Wayanad district

JMICAWE’s Prof Nat Waran was recently joined by Prof Neil Sargison, the RDSVS Head of the Farm Animal Section in delivering the second British Council funded workshop on Production Animal Health and Welfare in Pookat.

Prof Waran discussing poultry welfare issues at a new slaughter house in the Wayanad District
The Workshop was attended by 18 of the University’s Faculty members from both campuses, was considered to be a great success. Topics ranged from animal welfare measures, improving welfare through implementing animal health and welfare audits, the importance of preventative medicine and herd health management, and the role of the vet in animal welfare. Faculty members were given the opportunity to explore a problem based approach to delivering animal health and welfare content, and they gained an insight into the ways in which colleagues in Edinburgh utilised a more practical hands on approach for assessing and managing health and welfare.
The KVASU Vice Chancellor, Dr Ashok has pledged that ‘KVASU, with the help of colleagues in the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary studies of University of Edinburgh will jointly offer online distance learning programmes in Animal welfare as part of continuous professional development and KVASU will act as a facilitator for implementing problem based learning in the country. In addition he hopes that with the help of Veterinary Council of India, the University will take a lead role in organising an International Workshop during 2013 for the Vice chancellors of the Veterinary universities in the country to promote this approach to up-skilling the veterinary profession in India.
Moreover the farms of KVASU, Pookode campus will be developed as model farms with high animal health and welfare standards’.  The JMICAWE team will be returning to Kerala to deliver the third and final British Council sponsored workshop, on developing a PBL approach to small animal health and welfare, in late Jan 2013.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Improving animal welfare in China

Animal welfare in China is often a controversial issue, and nowhere more so than in China’s hundreds of zoos and safari parks. Both human and animal safety issues commonly arise, and knowledge of animal health and welfare, behavioural needs and appropriate husbandry is very limited. To this end, the first International China Veterinary Symposium to improve captive wildlife welfare was recently arranged by the China Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG) in partnership with Beijing Zoo. The CAZG is the government authority responsible for regulating zoos in China.

The itinerary for the event, with expert guest speakers, was provided by the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, part of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, with support from the Animals Asia Foundation, and highlighted the need for a proactive, preventative approach to health and welfare issues, and the importance of addressing the behavioural and psychological needs of captive wild animals in captivity.

The symposium was attended by 30 veterinary surgeons from 27 zoos and safari parks across China. The symposium included case studies, video, practical examples, and discussion groups, in addition to theory. Topics covered included animal welfare, behaviour and mental health, pain recognition and management, preventative medicine, and a range of clinical techniques to improve the level of veterinary care and animal welfare delivered by vets managing captive wildlife collections.

In addition to providing veterinarians with the practical skills they need to improve animal health and disease control at their zoos, the workshop continuously emphasised the importance of improving welfare for captive wild animals.

Speaking at the event, Heather Bacon welcomed the opportunity to promote enhanced animal welfare and veterinary care for zoological animals. She commented:
“Whilst the ethics of managing wild animals in captivity are often complex and sensitive, it is important to recognise the reality that many wild animals are permanently housed in zoological collections and the zoo veterinary community has a responsibility to manage their health and welfare effectively, by working together to promote animal welfare in a constructive and practical forum, we can improve the lives of many animals”