Monday, 25 May 2015

2nd Regional Meeting of Animal Welfare Groups in The Balkans

JMICAWE veterinary nurse Hayley Walters has recently returned from Croatia after presenting at the 2nd regional meeting of animal welfare experts in the Balkans.

The committee  was created last year by Alex Hammond Seaman of RSPCA International and Tomislav Mikus  of the Croatian Veterinary Institute and is the beginnings of a network and forum for sharing knowledge and experiences from different sectors and stakeholders across 8 different non EU member countries; Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia , Albania and Kosovo. The meeting was attended by vets, OIE staff members, laboratory animal research/welfare scientists, animal behaviourists, veterinary lecturers, European commission members, NGOs and those involved in Dog Population Management.
Hayley spoke of the relevance of animal welfare in veterinary education and the challenges for the future. Since the integration of JMICAWE and our increase in animal welfare education into the curriculum over the last 4 years, research has shown that our students now show more empathy and recognise higher levels of sentience in animals as opposed to findings from research carried out pre 2011. Hayley also spoke about the importance of using models and manikins instead of live animals in teaching clinical and surgical skills. Research has shown that 91% of students who are taught clinical skills on animal alternatives, such as models and manikins, rated their learning experience equal or superior to learning on a live teaching animal.
This information was well received by the 40 strong audience and interest was shown by both Serbian and Slovenian vets who still use live teaching animals in their teaching and would like JMICAWE to run a ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop in their vet schools.
Hayley said, “It was wonderful to see so many passionate animal welfare experts, from so many different countries who were freely volunteering their time to speak or attend, altogether in the same room. The Balkan region has a long, sad history of wars where human welfare has been compromised but now the time is here for attention to be turned to improving animal welfare through collaborative efforts”.

It’s a very new committee that is a work in progress but it’s a platform where Balkan member countries can meet to avoid duplication of the same animal welfare mistakes from the past, share expertise and collaborate on a regional level.

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