Thursday, 28 August 2014

Read about our exciting work with IFAW

JMICAWE has been collaborating closely with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in developing a Continuing Professional Development Course (CPD) specifically designed for their staff all around the world. IFAW are very excited about the course, which the JMICAWE team have been helping to develop since January and will be rolled out over the next few months.

Almost ready to launch the ‘IFAW Animal Welfare Science, Conservation and Ethics’ course is one of two CPD courses particularly tailored to meet IFAW objectives.  A key aim of the CPD programme is to enable IFAW staff to access information showing how an evidence based approach to discussing issues related to welfare and conservation can be used to develop effective, credible policy, practice and advocacy.

Cindy Milburn, Director of Animal Welfare Outreach and Education at IFAW says:

 'IFAW is very pleased to be partnering with the JMICAWE team at Edinburgh University in the development of a range of professional development materials in Animal Welfare Science, Conservation and Ethics for our workforce. It is important to IFAW that our staff keep abreast of developments within the rapidly expanding field of Animal Welfare Science and that they understand the nexus between animal welfare and conservation.
At IFAW, we work hard to ensure our materials are evidence based and the Edinburgh University JMICAWE team has helped to create a Professional Development Animal Welfare Programme that will assist our staff in understanding different approaches and attitudes to animal welfare and the need to base information on scientific assessments within an ethical decision making framework.

The Edinburgh team were able to bring their rigorous science-based methodologies to the training programme and at the same time creating materials that will have a very practical application in helping with IFAW’s animal welfare and conservation work.'

To consolidate the collaboration we have with the IFAW, JMICAWE Director Prof Nat Waran was delighted to accept an offer to become a UK Trustee of the organisation.

'We have enjoyed a closer collaboration with IFAW over the last 3 years in relation to animal welfare science. I was honoured to accept the recent offer to become a Trustee of the organisation and I am looking forward to furthering our work together'
 Prof Nat Waran, Director JMICAWE 

About IFAW
Founded in 1969 to end the commercial seal hunt, IFAW now rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Working with the JMICAWE team: reflections of a visiting academic

Those of you may remember from earlier blogs, our associate academic Mark Farnworth came to spend couple of months with us, all the way from New Zealand.  The time has flown, but here are a few thoughts and reflections from Mark about his work with us over the summer:

It has been a whistle stop eight weeks here at JMICAWE which has seen me get involved with the innovative, and beautifully crafted, MOOC to over 33,000 students. I have also been involved with a range of initiatives and future projects that focus on education in developing nations to improve animal welfare outcomes.
In my spare time I have visited Newcastle University, The Royal Veterinary College and Aberdeen University as well as SRUC. The reception I received, and the support for my ideas, has been amazing and I very much look forward to pursuing these ideas (and of course funding) in the future.
JMICAWE boasts an exceptional and passionate staff and was able to facilitate a rapid expansion in my horizons. I'm hoping my connection with them as an associate will continue for many years. Of course it wasn't all hard graft, from swimming and canoeing in the river to enjoying the evenings at the Edinburgh Festival my time here has been a joy. Thanks to Nat and the team.
-Mark Farnworth, 2014

The team here in Edinburgh will certainly be staying in touch and continuing our connections and work together.  You can read more about Mark's work and research here:

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

ON TONIGHT! JMICAWE Student in LSPCA Malawi TV spot

Focus on welfare in Malawi! The Dog Rescuers, on Chanel 5 tonight night sees Inspector Anthony Joynes visit RSPCA International’s long term partner organisation, LSPCA (Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animals) in Malawi. It was an action packed week and the programme is being broadcast as part of the Dog Rescuers series. Please watch.

Our particular interest in this episode is that one of our very own JMICAWE students who is studying our online MSc in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law, is the Vet and Programmes Manager at LSPCA.

Dr Richard Ssuna is responsible for the veterinary care of all LSPCA's rescued animals and also runs the weekly community veterinary clinic He oversees LSPCA's education work in schools, the chicken care programme in the community and works with the police and government to improve animal welfare across Lilongwe.

If you would like to read more about or support LSPCA’s work, please go to their website on:


Dr Richard Ssuna (Image from

Monday, 18 August 2014

JMICAWE collaboration with World Animal Protection group working in Asia: World Animal Welfare’s Key Drivers in Asia Annual Meeting

As part of a JMICAWE collaboration with the World Animal Protection group working in Asia, our team member Dr Jill MacKay recently visited Taiwan as our representative to take part in World Animal Welfare’s Key Drivers in Asia annual meeting.  World Animal Protection brought together several important researchers and veterinarians throughout Asia to act as ‘Key Drivers’, promoting animal welfare and animal welfare education in veterinary schools and agricultural colleges throughout the continent.

Hosted in part through funds from the Taiwanese government, Jill spent five days discussing animal welfare assessment, advocacy and education. Her role as an invited speaker enabled her to discuss her work with JMICAWE and SRUC in production animal welfare assessment and how we utilise online environments in teaching and advocacy.  Three days were spent in Taipei and two days in Kaohsiung, incorporating practical visits to two Taiwanese dog shelters and a zoo to give the key drivers some experience with animal welfare assessment in a practical setting.
‘For me as a researcher familiar with EU rules and regulation on animal welfare, it was a fascinating opportunity to learn more about how welfare assessment can be conducted in different countries and cultures. We discussed at great length the kinds of welfare indicators that would be appropriate in the different parts of Asia, even continuing these debates on the bus ride down to Kaohsiung. This was a great opportunity to network and it was great to see so many ideas being exchanged.   I am quite frankly amazed at the amount of progress each key driver has made since last year. Animal welfare needs this passion and drive to move forwards internationally and I’m very proud to have been a part of that’ (Jill MacKay)

It was also interesting to see some of the innovations that different shelters had come up with. The dog shelter in Kaohsiung had developed a method of catching stray and feral dogs in groups, with minimal human contact and the demonstration was a good example of how local knowledge can help animal welfare.

Group Dog Trap

‘I was very pleased to see that all of the key drivers were keen to work more in advocacy and informal science training. During one of my workshops we developed some ideas for teaching children about animal welfare science, to encourage the next generation to incorporate animal welfare into their thinking. For me this was one of the most rewarding parts of the trip, as I am very passionate about science communication’ (Jill MacKay)

JMICAWE group advocacy  workshop in session
Kaohsiung Government Shelter Presentation

 Also discussed was World Animal Protection’s online education programs such as Animal Mosaic ( and Jill was also able to share the JMICAWE’s experience with their MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that had run for 5 weeks over the summer with 32,000 people signed up from across 160 countries. There was a common agreement that online education is taking off and the Animal Behaviour and Welfare MOOC was a great example of how these courses can reach huge audiences and convey important science education.

Jill added that ‘Overall I would like to thank our generous host, Ms Liu, World Animal Protection and the key drivers for their kind reception and making me feel very welcome in Taiwan. I had a wonderful time and I’m already looking forward to finding out what they get up to in the next twelve months’
Government Shelter in Taipei - example of a good cat room
Taiwan Government Shelter dog



JMICAWE supports wildlife veterinary training in Cambodia

Last month Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE travelled to Cambodia in a collaborative effort with Veterinary ophthalmologists from the Animal Health Trust and a UK zoo vet to examine and operate on several wild animals confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade. This complements other work that JMICAWE is involved with in Asia relating to capacity building for the veterinary profession and collaboration with Animal Welfare organisations to help enhance awareness of Animal Welfare issues, their importance, and ways to deal with them

The Pnomh Tamao Zoological park in Cambodia is home to a variety of wild animals, many rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. The charities Wildlife Alliance and Free The Bears both operate wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facilities within the zoo grounds.

The visit allowed a number of confiscated animals with vision and dental problems to be evaluated, and in some cases operated on to restore vision. Additionally the visit allowed local Cambodian Vets the unique opportunity to experience referral level wildlife medicine, and to discuss cases directly with us.

Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE said “Trips like this have a huge impact on animal welfare – not only do they allow us to contribute directly to the welfare of these animals which are confiscated from trade, the visits help us to experience first-hand the challenges of veterinary training and wildlife rehabilitation in developing countries, and to exchange information about current treatments and approaches to veterinary medicine and animal husbandry.”

Thursday, 14 August 2014

JMICAWE: Improving dog welfare through research

As we know, dog overpopulation is a significant issue in some countries, leading to bites, infectious disease and conflict with humans. Trap-neuter-return or TNR is advocated by both animal welfare groups and the OIE as a useful tool in controlling dog populations – however what is the experience of the dog?
We often hear that a project has neutered several thousands of dogs – but how were those dogs caught? Were any injured or killed? Did they receive analgesia or adequate anaesthesia? Could TNR programmes sometimes be creating welfare problems by focussing on the population rather than the individual?

These are all questions that we wanted to answer as part of JMICAWE's Dogs Trust funded research project – after all, ‘What we can measure, we can manage’ and if we can identify key problem areas in TNR programmes, those problems can then be fixed.
With this in mind Heather Bacon and Hayley Walters from the JMICAWE team travelled to Botswana to develop and refine an evaluation scheme to assess the welfare of individual dogs within a TNR programme. The programme that was selected was that run by the Maun Animal Welfare Society in Botswana, a project with an excellent reputation. This project was chosen as we knew it would be well run, and we wanted to validate the criteria we had selected for assessment to see if they would be practical in an established project setting.

The trip was extremely useful in highlighting which welfare measures could be applied in a TNR setting and which could not, and the healthy, much-loved dogs in Maun are a testament to the hard work of MAWS in running the project.
We’re now in the process of refining our welfare assessment for dogs in TNR and will be validating this later on in the year in India.

For more information on MAWS please see

KC - the fantastic veterinary assistant at MAWS

JMICAWE and Animals Asia research social relationships in bears

At this year’s International Society for Applied Ethology conference, former Edinburgh Animal Welfare MSc student Jessa Lampe presented her Masters research project on social relationships among Asiatic black bears rescued from the bear bile trade. Whilst most bear species have traditionally been considered solitary, recent research by David Shepherdson and colleagues at the Oregon Zoo in the USA demonstrated that Polar bears actually exhibit less stereotypy if housed socially.

Similarly Jessa’s research at Animals Asia’s rescue centre in China showed that Asiatic black bears will invest much more time in developing affiliative relationships than engaging in antagonistic behaviour. This time investment suggests that social contact is extremely important for captive Asiatic black bears.

Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE said “Research like this is vital in helping us to understand what is actually important to wild animals in captivity and to challenge the myth and tradition that often influences how we manage wild animals in zoos and sanctuaries

The JMICAWE and SRUC team looks forward to welcoming our new on-campus and online animal welfare masters students during the next few weeks.  Meanwhile the current masters students are busy finalising their theses ready for hand-in this Friday.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Mothi the Thai rescue Dog: My first year living in Edinburgh


Mothi - 1 year on

by Heather Bacon

Good friends: Stewart, Mothi and Mathilda (l-r)
Next week is the first anniversary of the terrible Thai twins, Mothi and Stewart arriving here in Bonny Scotland.

Time certainly has flown! I remember a year ago arriving at Edinburgh airport to collect them and being delighted that Mothi still remembered her name! Introductions with my Chinese street dog Mathilda went well, and over the past year they’ve grown even closer.

But we’ve had rough times too – earlier this year we had a scare when Mothi , chasing Mathilda across a muddy field, collapsed screaming and lame. So painful she became aggressive, we were fortunately able to restrain her and quickly locate the source of her pain – a luxated patella which I quickly replaced. A trip to the R(D)SVS confirmed my fears and surgery was scheduled to correct the luxation.
As you can imagine, She was pretty sad after the surgery, but what I hadn’t anticipated (rather naively) was how much she would hate crate restriction. Unsurprisingly for a dog that had experienced the horrors of the meat trade, caging in a shelter, and air transport from Thailand, crates did not represent a ‘happy place’ for Mothi, and whilst she wasn’t destructive she was tense and nervous. Thankfully after a bit of creative thinking we found a fabric crate which she absolutely loves, and which was a great alternative to the metal one…

…Which is lucky as she managed to avulse her tibial crest 6 weeks post-op, requiring a second surgery, and a further 6 weeks crate rest!

We’re finally back to normal with Mothi enjoying her new found freedom (and me keeping my fingers crossed that our time in the orthopaedic ward is over!). But despite the worry, I’m so glad that she’s with me. As I write this, she’s curled up on the sofa, chasing rabbits in her sleep. She has lots of friends (both human and canine) here in Edinburgh and is one of the nosiest, loving and resilient little dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. I know my life is brighter for having her, and I like to think that hers is too.

Mothi and Heather being filmed for our MOOC course

Mothi enjoying the sands

Mothi loves a walk in the hills

Mothi with Stewart when they first arrived from Thailand


Stewart the Thai rescue Dog: My first year living in Edinburgh


Stewart's first year in the UK

by Hayley Walters

6 Months Difference
A year has passed since I adopted Stewart, or StewMagu as he is often referred to, from a shelter in Thailand. He was one of 3,000 dogs that had been intercepted on the border of Thailand and Laos, being smuggled into Vietnam to supply the illegal dog meat trade.

It has certainly been a year of highs and lows with a trip to the vet for a dog bite abscess on his neck, a case of MRSP (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Pseudintermedius), some serious property destruction due to separation anxiety and just this week a biopsy was taken from a small mass growing on his nose, but luckily the result was benign.

However, it has been a rewarding year with him and he is happy little soul.

He thoroughly enjoys his walks in the Scottish countryside, the company of other dogs and has made many human and canine friends. He still sees Mothi several times a week and I call them 'The Terrible Thai Twins' as they seem braver (AKA deafer) when they are together and return to us on perhaps on the 8th or 9th recall!

He has been used for teaching practical several times in the teaching hospital so is now very used to having his head and legs bandaged and having a full ophthalmology examination done by students.

He starred in our MOOC in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and earned himself a little fan club as he not only introduced my chapter to 32,000 students across the world with me, but also starred in his own section relating to the illegal dog meat trade.

Looking back over the year I know that my life is richer thanks to him. I am far more active, I've seen a lot more of Scotland, I've met new people out on walks and I'm never alone. I'd like to hope that the relationship is mutually beneficial too and I've enriched his life also.
His separation anxiety has probably been the most difficult thing to deal with but we are increasing the time he can be alone bit by bit. Never have I measured success in seconds!

I still think of all the other dogs left behind in the overcrowded, barren shelter, destined to live out the rest of their lives there as unloved anonymous souls. One in particular stays with me as she placed her paw in my hand and looked at me with such pleading that I wish I'd taken her too.
 "You can't save them all" is a saying that is very true but I can, have and will continue to educate people on how to improve the lives of animals for as long as I can. And Stewart helps with that message too!

Enjoying the views over Loch Lomond
Stewart is happy out for a walk with all members of the family
Enjoying the views from Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Equine Welfare at the forefront of the 10th ISES conference in Denmark

Last week three members of the Royal (Dick) Vet School including JMICAWE Director Prof Nat Waran, Bryony Waggett (Equine Science teaching Fellow) and Gemma Pearson (Senior Clinical Training Scholar in Equine Practice), travelled to Denmark to deliver papers and Chair at the 10th  International Society for Equitation Science annual Conference.

With the overall topic focused on Equine stress, learning and training, with scientific themes covering: Interpretation of equine stress responses, Learning and cognition and Sustainable training and riding, the conference attracted some 230 delegates from various continents with scientists travelling from Australia, US and Europe to hear three days worth of excellent papers as well as a half day practical session.

During the event, our JMICAWE Director was extremely flattered to be invited to become an Honorary Fellow of the International Society for Equitation Science, in recognition of her significant contribution to the development of the field and continuing work towards enhancing awareness of the importance of putting the welfare of the horse first and before any performance goals.

‘I felt extremely humbled when I was asked to be an Honorary Fellow of ISES, and of course it was something I was very happy to accept.  It is important to keep the momentum we have gained in this emerging research area, continuing with the work of putting the welfare of the horse first. The society offers an ideal platform for encouraging and disseminating evidence based information to ensure that issues associated with use of the horse for performance and recreation are addressed and equine welfare is accepted as the key priority’ Prof Nat Waran

Details about the event can be seen here:

The International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) is a not-for-profit learned society that aims to facilitate research into the training of horses to enhance horse welfare and improve the horse-rider relationship. The ISES mission is to promote and encourage the application of objective research and advanced practice, which will ultimately improve the welfare of horses in their associations with humans.

ISES runs international conferences that serve as platforms where latest research findings and their application in practice can be communicated and discussed. ISES also provides a pool of expertise for international bodies and academic institutions that approach ISES with questions related to horse behaviour, training and welfare.

Delegates in session at the 10th ISES Conference



Reporting MOOC: Spreading the Animal Welfare Message

The summer is flying by and we are now in the final week of our MOOC course - and it's been a fantastic 5 weeks.  What has inspired  the teaching team here is the enthusiasm, engagement and input by the students themselves. In fact we  have had lots of students telling us they’ve changed their behaviours due to the course. 

You can read a few of their quotes here:

"Week through week I got more concerned on how I could make the animals life a bit better and after watching the videos on week 3, I decided to engage actively by volunteering in an animal shelter."

"I have found that knowing I will be able to define "animal welfare" by measurable factors has helped tremendously.  Especially seeing specifically defined factors that let a shelter know it is providing a good environment for the animals in its care, and being able to pinpoint areas of improvement NOT based on emotion or opinion, but on scientifically defined points".


"This course has helped me to coalesce a lot of ideas that have been rolling around in my head for a while.  Particularly that the Five Freedoms allows us to use the same framework to talk about companion animals, production animals and wildlife.  Our group focuses mostly on pet overpopulation and education.  We are about to launch an anti-cruelty campaign and the Five Freedoms is a going to be the way we talk about cruelty".

"I have been inspired by the scientific approach to a  very emotional/personal issue and I really appreciate the scientific and rationale evidence to support these issues.  I love the spirit and energy of the scientists who have led us through this course and I really appreciate their attempts to keep the conversation balanced.  I have learned so much, and I believe this has already impacted my treatment and approach to all the animals in my life".

You can  read more here if you are already  registered:

We've had 32,000 people signed up from across 160 countries.  If you would like to be part of this, we will be running the course again, and you can sign up here for future alerts:


Don't forget we will also have  options in Mandarin and Spanish!


Monday, 4 August 2014

JMICAWE working with World Animal Protection to deliver Access Online Learning in Asia

Post-Graduate Continuing Education in Advanced Animal Welfare in Asia Online Course  

JMICAWE is thrilled to  be  cooperating with World Animal Protection (WAP) to support the delivery of a Continuing Education Post-Graduate Online course for helping with capacity building veterinarians in Asia with respect to animal welfare science.

Starting in September 2014, World Animal Protection is hosting an online course focused on the understanding of the basic concepts behind animal welfare science, ethics and law, and how these concepts are relevant to veterinarians in Asia. The course also looks at how to assess animal welfare and involves a hands on workshop.

Find out more about this exciting new course and how to sign up by clicking on this link 
The course is hosted in partnership with the following:

Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, the University of Edinburgh
The Federation of Asian Veterinary Associations
The Center for Veterinary Continuing Education, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University
The College of Veterinary Medicine, University of the Philippines Los Banos
 Access online learning courses through Animal Mosaic
Animal Mosaic is the global online resource for animal welfare. Online learning is growing in importance for the contribution it makes to students and professionals worldwide. Through the Education section on Animal Mosaic, World Animal Protection aims to supply and link to the very best materials and tools to support animal welfare education.

Through this page we will advertise and give access to new online learning courses on animal welfare from World Animal Protection as well as other organisations and institutions worldwide. Keep up to date with progress by registering for the Animal Mosaic Community where updates will be shared in the forums and through the e-newsletter.

Reporting MOOC: course has excellent response and exciting further developments

We have now come to the end of Week 3 of the 5 weeks of free online learning about animal welfare. This week we start looking at Production animal welfare, as we go ‘ Down on the Farm’.


Our MOOC Community

We now have around 32,000 people signed up from more than 160 countries  – with 20 % of these described as developing economies. The level of engagement has been superb – involving people as wide ranging as the CEO’s of NGOS, International welfare standards policy advisors, teenagers, veterinarians from all over the   world and students of all ages and backgrounds. 

On line discussion forums are buzzing with people debating what we mean by animal sentience, the need for an objective approach to assessing animal welfare, diet preference and if this does improve welfare, dog meat farming and so on. Its a full time job keeping up with it all!  

Developing Access with Mandarin and Spanish options

The icing on the cake is that we have managed to start the process of getting the video lectures subtitled for our Mandarin speaking viewers –  and when we run the MOOC again in the UK winter months  – we will have both Chinese and Spanish options available! Watch this space.