Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Looking to take the reins on Thoroughbred Racehorse Health and Welfare in Hong Kong

As you may have read in our last blog, staff from the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Roslin Institue were in Hong Kong last week. Whilst they were there, Thoroughbred racehorse health and welfare education and research opportunities were discussed during a visit with the Hong Kong Jockey Club veterinary clinical services team.


A Racehorse and Jockey at Happy Valley Racetrack
Professor Bruce McGorum, head of the RDSVS equine section at the University of Edinburgh, and Professor Nat Waran, Director of the JMICAWE, were very pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Dr Chris Riggs, head of the veterinary clinical services department of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and his team during a recent visit to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong team of extremely experienced equine vets regularly provide placements for extremely fortunate RDSVS students wishing to learn more about the veterinary management of racing thoroughbreds in Hong Kong.

Prof Bruce McGorum and Dr Chris Riggs outside of the veterinary clinical services department
As well as being given a tour of the impressively equipped veterinary laboratories and equine facilities at the Sha Tin racecourse where over 1,200 Thoroughbred horses are cared for by the team, opportunities for further applied clinical research collaborations in shared areas of interest to enhance equine health and welfare were discussed. The visit ended with a behind the scenes visit to the Happy Valley racetrack where observations of the veterinary team in action, the strict health and welfare checks taking place, as well as seeing the horses race provided an interesting insight into the life of the Hong Kong racehorse, as well as the important role played by the Hong Kong Jockey Club veterinary team.

Behind the scenes at Happy Valley Racetrack

Monday, 27 April 2015

Animal Health and Welfare Collaboration agreement signed between Hong Kong Government and the University of Edinburgh

A two-day international workshop entitled "Applied Veterinary Research: Advancing Human & Animal Health and Welfare" concluded successfully in Hong Kong last week, with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) relating to veterinary education and research co-operation between the Hong Kong Government and the University of Edinburgh. The theme of the two day international workshop was how scientific discovery in the field of veterinary research can translate into clinical practice to benefit both animal and human welfare.

Co-organised by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (RDSVS), the meeting was attended by around 200 veterinary and medical officers and experts from a variety of backgrounds including international animal health organisations, overseas and Mainland veterinary authorities, universities, animal welfare organisations, and Hong Kong government departments. Speakers comprised scientists and experts from the University of Edinburgh’s RDSVS and Roslin Institute, as well as experts from Mainland China, the University of Hong Kong and the AFCD.

This was the first time that the Hong Kong Government’s AFCD had collaborated with a world class overseas institution to bring together local and international experts to discuss recent advances in veterinary research and the translation of research results into clinical practice to benefit humans and animals.

As part of this occasion, The William Dick Memorial Lecture was given outside of Edinburgh for the first time. The Memorial lecture is given to commemorate the life and work of the founder of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, who was born in 1793, and who established the affectionately named Dick Veterinary School in 1823 in Edinburgh. Delegates at the workshop were delighted to hear Professor David Argyle, (BVMS PhD DECVIM-CA (Oncology) MRCVS), the William Dick Professor of Veterinary Clinical Studies and Head of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, present on; Bridging basic science and clinical medicine for improving animal health and welfare.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation, Mr Alan Wong, said,

 "The presentations over the past two days of the workshop have been interesting and thought-provoking. The discussions on the topic of 'One World - One Health' and how collaboration between different professionals may produce synergistic benefits have been productive."

Reflecting on the two day’s of talks and discussions that took place in Hong Kong, International Associate Dean for the RDSVS, Professor Nat Waran,  stated;

‘This international workshop has enabled us to explore not just our existing knowledge but to discover new opportunities for international collaboration and knowledge transfer, for ensuring the exponential growth in technologies and our understanding is translated into improvements in the health and welfare of animals and humans“

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Forty Years on from the Publication of ‘Animal Liberation’- A Talk by Professor Peter Singer

What a lucky coincidence for JMICAWE’s Nat Waran, to be in Hong Kong whilst Princeton University professor Peter Singer was in town to give a number of talks as part of the Hong Kong Literary Arts festival.

Often described as the world’s most influential living philosopher, he has been challenging our assumptions about the world we live in and our attitudes towards animals since the release of his now-classic book Animal Liberation in 1975.
Entitled "Ethics and Animals: Forty years after Animal Liberation", Prof Singer considered how well the arguments of the book have stood up to critical examination, and what interesting questions remain, reviewing the progress that has been made - or has not been made - in changing attitudes and practices regarding animals.  
Nat was in Hong Kong attending a conference that was jointly organised by the JMICAWE and the Hong Kong Government, which you'll find out more about in our next blog! This was truly a great opportunity for her to hear and then to get to meet a man who has been so influential in challenging us about animals and their rights. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Can we more effectively assess pain in the animals we care for?

On Friday, May 8th 2015, Dr Matt Leach will be coming to R(D)SVS from Newcastle University to give a talk on assessing pain in animals, entitled 'Can we more effectively assess pain in the animals we care for?'

Matt completed our MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour & Welfare and a PhD in Laboratory Animal Welfare at the University of Birmingham. For the last 10 years, his research has focused on developing effective means of assessing pain in a range of animals, including laboratory, companion and farm species. Currently, he is a full-time lecturer and researcher in animal welfare at Newcastle University and a part-time animal welfare lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. 

Pain in animals is of considerable public concern. Pain compromises not only animal welfare, but also raises considerable ethical concern. In order to successfully alleviate pain, we need to be able to assess its severity and duration effectively. In this talk, we will discuss the effectiveness of both the routinely used (i.e. clinical signs) and new (i.e. behaviour and facial expressions) methods for assessing pain in animals.  
We are really looking forward to hearing about Matt’s research and his work on animal welfare.
Don’t forget that our Spring Newsletter 2015 is now available and can be viewed by clicking on this link -

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Hayley Walters Achieves a Second Award for Welfare Contributions

We are thrilled to announce that JMICAWE Team Member Hayley Walters has been awarded CEVA Veterinary Nurse of the Year 2015.

You may remember from a previous blog that the JMICAWE was visited by a camera team from CEVA to make a short video on Hayley and all the work she has done as part of her role in the team and as an anaesthesia veterinary nurse. She attended an awards ceremony in Birmingham last week, where the video was shown, and beat all of the competition to achieve her second award in a year, following her success in winning the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Veterinary Nurse Golden Jubilee Award last summer.

Whilst in Birmingham, Hayley attended her first BSAVA International Affairs Committee meeting and raised concerns relating to the use of live animals in teaching clinical and surgical skills to veterinary students in developing countries. She also highlighted the need for a veterinary nurse education programme in developing countries to raise the standard of inpatient care. These concerns will be taken, with a report, to the WSAVA annual conference in Bangkok in May this year. Hayley was invited on to this committee earlier this year by its chair Ross Allan and is the first veterinary nurse ever to become a member.
We are sure you’ll join us in congratulating Hayley on another amazing achievement!

Don’t forget that our Spring Newsletter 2015 is now available and can be viewed by clicking on this link -

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Animal Welfare highlighted at the 6th Pan Commonwealth Veterinary Conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - March 2015

JMICAWE Director Prof Nat Waran has recently returned from Kuala Lumpur where she was invited to attend and present on companion animal welfare at the 6th Pan Commonwealth Veterinary conference, co-hosted by the Malaysian Veterinary Association.

Five hundred and fifteen (515) registered participants attended the conference and of these, 125 were international participants from 44 countries. The conference was opened by the Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, of the Government of Malaysia, Dato' Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. 
The theme of the conference was,  “Providing Holistic Solutions to Changing Global Challenges – Threats and Opportunities for Veterinarians” and the JMICAWE was fortunate to be invited to be the joint organiser of the one day ‘Animal Welfare’ session within this.
Speakers from various countries, including Malaysia, gave interesting presentations about advances in animal welfare education, practise and research. At the end of the session, a panel discussion took place to identify the key points for ensuring high standards of welfare throughout the Commonwealth member countries, through veterinary organisations and Universities as well as Government ministries. These included the need for relevant, credible and accessible animal welfare education to inform best practice, something that the JMICAWE is extremely well placed to help facilitate.