Monday, 29 June 2015

Animal Welfare Science: An IFAW Workshop

This month Nat, Heather and Fritha from The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education and Scotland's Rural College were delighted to visit Cape Cod and the headquarters of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Azzedine Downes, President and CEO of IFAW attended the workshop

JMICAWE and IFAW have already established a strong partnership through collaborative teaching initiatives on our online MSc in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law, and the development of an interactive foundation course on animal welfare and ethics which has now been rolled out to all IFAW staff. This course was designed to develop a consistent level of knowledge about animal welfare science, and a common understanding of IFAWs ethics. If you are interested in our Master's programme, more can be found here:
Our recent visit to Boston built upon this successful initiative to bring a greater depth of analysis and evaluation to IFAWs campaigns and position statements and to emphasise the importance of a solid scientific foundation when developing animal welfare policy and campaigns. Topics covered included ‘evidence-based arguments and why they matter’, ‘good and bad science’, and ‘writing effective science-based communications’.
Additionally participants had the opportunity to explore their own personal ethics and discover the commonalities that have evolved into a cohesive ethical stance for IFAW. Feedback from IFAW staff has been very positive, recognising that the workshop allowed for critical analysis of IFAW’s positions and reaffirmation of beliefs in the work done by IFAW.
We feel very priviledged to have been able to run this workshop in collaboration with IFAW and would like to thank everyone who helped to make it such a success.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Replacement, Reducation and Refinement; Laboratory Animal Welfare Symposium 2015

Each year, the University of Edinburgh holds a Laboratory Animal Welfare and Alternatives Symposium. This takes its inspiration from the concept of ‘The 3Rs’: Replacement, Reduction and/or Refinement, with the aim of removing animals from laboratories or at the very least ensuring they experience good welfare.

This year’s symposium was held in the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine’s Chancellors building and was a great success. More than 100 staff and students attended to hear some extremely interesting talks, ranging from refinements in rodent housing to an enlightening presentation on where research animal use can be reduced through better scientific methodologies.

Two poster presenters won awards presented by Prof Nat Waran of the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare, and Dr Lesley Penny, Director of Veterinary Scientific services. These represented what the judges felt were the best (of some really good posters) scientist and technician contribution to improving animal welfare through replacement, reduction and or refinement in their daily work.
The staff in Veterinary Scientific services who organised the symposium were pleased that it was so well attended and want to thank all those who put in posters for the 3Rs/welfare prizes. This represented a lot of work and there were some really interesting studies and proposals that will impact the welfare of animals at a local level and further afield. The mix of talks was excellent, informative and challenging in equal measures and it was great to see a mixture of animal unit staff and scientists in the audience including some very senior academics supporting the event. Roll on 2016!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Send a Veterinary Nurse to India Project gets underway

The nursing of patients whilst they are sick or recuperating in hospital is of huge importance for ensuring all their needs are met and that their welfare doesn’t suffer. Nursing doesn’t just involve giving medication, changing dirty bedding and providing food for an animal, it is also about ensuring the patient is treated as an individual and given everything it needs, not just for its physical wellbeing but also its mental wellbeing. Taking the time to comfort and befriend a frightened animal, or simply groom or play with a long term inpatient is just as important as keeping its intravenous fluids running or administering antibiotics.

Sadly, in many countries, the nursing of animals is low down on the hospital’s priorities and many animals are left unintentionally neglected. Little time is spent observing the animal and therefore changes in behaviour, which could indicate pain or fear, go unnoticed. The opportunity to toilet out of the kennel area is often not given, tipped over water bowls go unreplenished, uneaten food may be summed up as in appetence rather than a preference for something else, soiled bedding (if provided) remains unchanged and behavioural needs, such as hiding, are overlooked. The animal becomes nothing more than a ‘tick list’ of duties rather than an individual character with preferences and personal needs.

In November this year JMICAWE’s Hayley Walters and Heather Bacon will be taking 8 student veterinary nurses from Edinburgh Napier University to 2 vet schools in Kerala in India to promote the value and importance of veterinary nursing. Over the course of 2 weeks the student veterinary nurses will help to demonstrate how good nursing improves patient care which in turn speeds up recovery times due to the provision of a comfortable environment, good nutrition, appropriate pain relief and lots of TLC.

The ‘India expedition team’ met up last month for a team building day at The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, which involved a tour of the small animal hospital, presentations from Hayley, Heather and the student nurses, an interactive problem solving session and appropriately finished with a meal in an Indian restaurant in Edinburgh.

The long term plan for this project is to not only improve patient welfare through the caring profession but to eventually develop a veterinary nursing curriculum and qualification at the 2 vet schools in Kerala; something which will be of great value to the vets, veterinary students and, most importantly, the animals, when it happens.


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Excellence in Santiago: Shelter Medicine for Street Animals

A recent trip to Santiago, Chile, has highlighted the many challenges that street dogs face. However there are organisations working tirelessly to improve the quality of life of many dogs on the street.


Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE with Dr Ariel of Stuka, and the team from the Universidad Andres Bello


Stuka is a charitable dog shelter organisation that focuses on providing shelter dogs with a good quality of life through group housing, medical care and regular exercise opportunities. The dogs are prepared for adoption by training in basic obedience using positive reinforcement techniques and regular ‘adoption days’ mean that their time spent in the shelter in minimised. There is even an on-site groomer to ensure that all the dogs look their best for any prospective new owners!
A Dog Exercise area with Grooming Station in the background
The shelter is funded entirely by charitable donations, but offers a world-class level of shelter medicine and care.
Some dogs within the shelter are un-homeable due to severe medical or behavioural problems but these dogs receive additional staff time and attention to ensure that their needs are met.

Two staff provide physiotherapy for a dog with impaired mobility
Heather of the JMICAWE said, “So often we see shelters run by organisations or people with good intentions and a desire to help animals, but in many cases, these good intentions don’t translate into good animal welfare and problems of confinement and deprivation are common in many shelters. Stuka is an inspiring organisation, engaged in actively rehoming as many dogs as possible, and ensuring that the dogs housed there are well prepared for their new lives as pets”

Friday, 5 June 2015

Improving Welfare for Zoo Animals in Chile

You may have seen in a previous blog that at the beginning of May, the team from the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE) visited Santiago in Chile for a workshop on dog population management.

Whilst in Chile, zoo staff and veterinary students enthusiastically attended a zoo animal behaviour and welfare workshop held at the Buin Zoo. Led by Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE, whose PhD centres around zoo animal welfare, the event focussed on developing an understanding of the behavioural needs of zoo animals and implementing practical husbandry solutions to improve zoo animal welfare. For example, in the video below, you can see an example of a training session which would enable collection of a saliva sample from a bear to help us learn more about its health.

Zoo standards in South America are very variable but workshops like this, plus the transfer of knowledge through membership organisations such as ALPZA, are helping to focus efforts on improved zoo animal health and husbandry, and thus improving zoo animal welfare.
JMICAWE would like to thank Dr Nelly Lakestani, a former MSc and Phd student of Prof Nat Waran, Director of the JMICAWE, for her help in coordinating the workshop.