Friday, 31 January 2014

Red squirrels living on a Scottish island are fighting fit, say University vets.

A survey of the animals on the Isle of Arran has been conducted by scientists who are monitoring the population in a bid to help save the species.
They have found the squirrels to be in excellent health and showing few signs of disease.

Welcome findings
Researchers were particularly relieved to find no evidence of the deadly squirrelpox virus.

Keeping squirrelpox at bay is vital to red squirrel survival and being on an island gives Arran’s population the best chance of avoiding this disease.
The findings are good news for the future of this endangered species.

Competition threat
Red squirrels around the UK are under threat from deadly diseases and competition for food and habitat from grey squirrels, which were introduced to Britain from North America in the 19th century.

Arran is one of 19 red squirrel strongholds in Scotland - there are no grey squirrels on the island.
Red squirrels are found in both deciduous and coniferous woods all over the island.

Animal health
The survey was led by vets and scientists at the University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and funded by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and Forestry Commission Scotland.
The team humanely trapped and examined 21 live squirrels with the help of local foresters and rangers.
Vets also examined the remains of 16 squirrels that had been killed on the roads.
Detailed health checks included tests for common squirrel diseases, such as parasites and viruses, and also investigated the genetics of the animals.
“Some populations of red squirrels have been found to have high levels of diseases, and lack of genetic diversity could also affect their health, so we’re delighted to find that Arran’s red squirrels are fit and healthy.” Professor Anna Meredith

Squirrel photo by Alistair Rae

Friday, 24 January 2014

Animal welfare given a regional focus in Singapore

Animal welfare given a regional focus in Singapore

Last week Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE travelled to Singapore to attend the Asia for Animals Conference. Asia for Animals is a regional coalition of NGOs working on diverse animal welfare issues across the region

The conference brings together animal welfare experts, campaigners and grassroots groups to share information and expertise on techniques to improve welfare ranging from effective utilisation of social media to resolving conflict at the human-wildlife interface. Heather delivered a lecture during the main session on ‘Animal welfare – moving beyond the Five Freedoms’ and ran a workshop session on optimising veterinary care’, focusing on issues relating to pain recognition and management. In addition workshops on the ‘dog meat trade’ and ‘dog population management’ provided opportunities to discuss some of the work done by the JMICAWE in these areas.

Building capacity and skills using clinical training materials and evidence based on research is a crucial part of the work done by JMICAWE and we look forward to the next meeting in 2015!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Talk on - A future for genetically engineered livestock

Commonwealth Veterinary Association and Karnataka Veterinary Council
in association with The University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies are organising a talk in India:

Date and time: 19th February 2014, 3pm

Venue: Karnataka Veterinary Council auditorium, Veterinary College campus, Hebbal, Bangalore

Title: "A future for genetically engineered livestock"

Presented by Professor Bruce Whitelaw - Head of Division of Developmental Biology at the Roslin Institute and Professor of Animal Biotechnology

Professor Whitelaw’s research focus throughout his career has been the development and application of gene expression systems in transgenic animals.

Having pioneered the use of lentivirus vectors for transgene delivery, he is currently establishing robust methodology for genome editing in livestock and seeks to apply this technology in the field of animal biotechnology. Specifically, he aims to exploit this knowledge to develop innovative biotechnological solutions to combat infectious disease in animals, evaluate new treatments of human disease through transgenic animal models, and establish efficient protein production systems in animals.

He is the current Editor-in-Chief of ‘Transgenic Research’ and a past member of the OIE Ad hoc Group on Biotechnology.

The Roslin Institute is a UK National Institute of Bioscience (NIB) and is part of the University of Edinburgh’s, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. The Roslin Institute undertakes top-class basic and translational science to tackle some of the most pressing issues in animal health and welfare, their implications for human health and for the role of animals in the food chain. The Institute won international fame in 1996, when Professor Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell and their colleagues created ‘Dolly the Sheep’, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.

For more information contact: Pankaj Muthe -

Friday, 10 January 2014

JMICAWE awarded Dogs Trust Canine Welfare Grant

The JMICAWE team here at the R(D)SVS received welcome news over the festive period  when they discovered that their application for a Dogs Trust Canine Welfare Research Grant had been successful.

The research proposal entitled ‘Developing and validating a robust canine welfare audit system for use in Trap Neuter Return (TNR) programmes,’ aims to develop an effective framework to evaluate the welfare of individual dogs through trap-neuter-return programmes.

Trap-neuter-return (TNR) of free-ranging domestic dogs is an important tool in preventing conservation problems such as infectious disease transfer to wildlife populations and hybridisation with endangered wild canidae. Additionally TNR is recommended by the OIE as a tool to combat problems relating to dog overpopulation such as zoonotic disease e.g. rabies, shelter overpopulation, and dog bite attacks on humans

Veterinarian Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE, who is leading the project said
“Whilst well-planned TNR programmes are a useful tool in addressing these issues, it is important to recognise that welfare of the individual dog may be compromised by a population management approach. This project seeks to develop a framework by which we can objectively assess the impact of TNR population management programmes on the welfare of the individual dogs experiencing TNR.”

The Dogs Trust is supported by our Head of School Prof David Argyle, who acts as a trustee, and collaborative projects with the Dogs Trust including both the Canine Welfare Grant research project and Veterinary training initiatives in Sarejevo, Bosnia, have been supported by Professor Natalie Waran, Director of the Centre, and Hayley Walters RVN of the JMICAWE.
 JMICAWE Veterinary welfare and outreach manager Heather Bacon training Chinese students in appropriate neutering, anaesthesia and analgesia techniques.

JMICAWE Animal welfare and Anaesthesia Veterinary nurse Hayley Walters (centre), training Bosnian vets as part of a collaborative Dogs Trust training programme

Excellent article from Edinburgh's animal welfare specialist Cathy Dwyer

Better care for pregnant animals can have a positive and lifelong effect on their offspring, says Cathy Dwyer

WE KNOW that the love and support of parents, especially in our early years, is critical to human development. Not only does a parent provide the food, shelter and comfort we need, they also help us shape our thoughts, opinions and cultural references.

For many domestic and farmed animals, the reality is quite different. They are often separated from their mothers at an early age. Scientists, including a team at Scotland’s Rural College, are trying to assess how that affects the offspring – and we are finding that good welfare begins in the womb.

Read the full story by clicking on this article.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Luke Gamble gives presentation at The Dick Vet on 17 January 2014.

The Dick Vet - LT2 @ 4pm

Title: "The role of the WVS in improving animal welfare"

Luke Gamble graduated from Bristol University in 1999 as a vet and then went on to Cambridge to specialise in large animal medicine and surgery. Although primarily based in his New Forest practice, Pilgrims, his voluntary  work with the Worldwide Veterinary Service charity 'which he founded in 2003' takes him much further afield and was the subject of two TV series on Sky 1. He also runs an emergency service for animals in Dorset and a pet travel company.

Open to staff and students.