Wednesday, 30 March 2016

AABAW graduate from New Zealand - a life in animal welfare

Please follow the link to read a moving account by Karen Hiestand, one of our AABAW graduates, originally from New Zealand, of her life as a vet:-

Monday, 28 March 2016

Student wins Award for Working Horse Welfare Project in Guatemala


After beating off some tough competition, veterinary student Keana McCosh has been awarded a World Horse Welfare Undergraduate Bursary. The generous award will fund part of Keana’s undergraduate degree course at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, during which time she is required to gain additional experiences with animals as part of her extra mural studies. Keana has a personal interest in horses, and is keen to learn more about working horses in developing countries. The award means she will travel to Guatemala to join one of the World Horse Welfare teams for 4 weeks between June and August 2016. Her winning project is an investigation into the recognition and assessment of pain in working equines through the use of an educational intervention including a mobile technology APP, and she is supervised by the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare's Director, Professor Nat Waran.

On hearing about the award Keana said, ‘I really can’t believe how fortunate I am to be awarded this bursary and to have the chance to work with the WHW team on one of their horse welfare projects. I just can’t wait to get out there and to get on with it now!’

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

PetPlan Animal Welfare Vet of the Year Award nomination for JMICAWE vet Heather Bacon

JMICAWE’s vet, Heather Bacon, has been nominated for the Petplan Vet of the Year award and is now down to the final three.

This is a highly prestigious award, recognising the incredible work vets do to improve animal welfare, with hundreds of vets nominated each year either by their colleagues or clients.
Petplan travelled up to Edinburgh to film Heather and to hear about the work she does teaching students here and overseas.

If you remember, Heather was also nominated for CEVA’s Welfare Vet of the Year and is also down to the final three for that award!  It's an exciting time for the JMICAWE team.

The winners will be announced in April during BSAVA Congress in Birmingham at two separate award ceremonies and we are feeling very hopeful that Heather’s many years of hard work in teaching and improving animal welfare for companion animals and captive wildlife using an evidence-based approach will finally be recognised.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

We are happy to announce that one of our MSc IAWEL students Anik Boileau has been shortlisted for the ‘EUSA Global Impact Award’ based on her work with the Quebec Animal Welfare legislation (see earlier blog post dated 5th January). The award ceremony is being held here in Edinburgh tomorrow, 23rd March, so we are looking forward to finding out if she has won. Congratulations for being shortlisted and good luck, Anik.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Academic Engagement workshop at the Scottish Parliament

Dr Jill Mackay, Programme Co-ordinator for JMICAWE's online MSc International Animal Welfare Ethics and Law course, recently attended an Academic Engagement with Scottish Parliament workshop at the Scottish Parliament, organised by SPICe (who are responsible for writing research briefs etc. in parliament).

The aims of the day were to find out more about how parliament works, how legislation in Scotland is passed, and where academics can feed in to provide evidence-based policy. Parliament very much wants academic input and the Scottish Parliament values transparency, with much of its work online including what stage a bill is at and what amendments have been proposed, as well as any evidence gathering.

Jill came away with lots of ideas on how to better engage with policy makers in Scotland and making evidence based animal welfare heard. It was a very enjoyable day.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Professor Nat Waran appointed as Advisor on Animal Welfare to the Singapore Government

One of the main objectives of the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare in Edinburgh is to provide expertise on animal welfare to help inform Policy and Practice. To this end, we are extremely pleased to report that our JMICAWE Centre Director has recently been appointed to the Singapore Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) Veterinary Advisory Board, to provide recommendations on animal health and welfare issues in the Region. The University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies receives a significant number of applications from Singapore students wishing to study Vet Med each year, and there are a good number of RDSVS Alumni working in veterinary practices, Government offices and within the animal industry.

This appointment will further cement our excellent working relationship with the veterinary profession in the region and provide opportunities for sharing best practice in animal welfare, as well as learning more about the specific issues Singapore is concerned with. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Reinforcing the Canine Bond through Training - Al Bunyan, Dogs Trust

Alasdair Bunyan, Senior Behaviour & Training Adviser at Dogs Trust, kindly visited the Vet School twice this week, firstly to lecture last Friday, then to present to our final year Animal Welfare elective students yesterday.  Both audiences found his talks insightful and thought-provoking, and discussions during and after ranged widely.  These were the synopses of his two talks.

The Passion of Play

Play in animals is now known to be an indicator of an individual’s welfare, and whether this is a cat or a dog, play defines the animals mental state. Although play has been studied in many animals, including felines, canine play continues to be one of the least studied concepts.

In order to use play to build a stronger relationship and to help with training a greater awareness of an individual’s specific play styles must be understood.  Alasdair will discuss the importance of play in the welfare environment, play styles, appropriate and inappropriate play and thoughts on motivation and how to use play as reinforcement to both the handlers and dog’s benefit.

Reinforcing the Canine Bond Through Training

Dogs that enter kennels as handovers have in many instances undergone very little training and in some cases the training that has been implemented is punishment based. Within Dogs Trust a programme has recently been introduced to ensure a solid working relationship is established. This working relationship and the dog’s understanding of the concept of training is an imperative and key part in the success of future training.   

Alasdair will discuss the working relationship, fundamentals and then prime behaviours. These, he believes, should be trained before any intense behavioural modification programme is implemented.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Animal Behaviour & Welfare Elective - Visit to SRUC Pig Unit

The Final year Vet students, as part of the Animal Behaviour and Welfare Elective, went to visit the SRUC Pig Unit last week with Dr Susan Jarvis.

We covered a huge range of topics in the visit covering housing and management of the pregnant sow, the farrowing and lactating sow, and of growing pigs.  We discussed various aspects of behaviour:  thinking about natural behaviour (e.g nest building) and how this can be inhibited in commercial conditions, how management can impact on behaviour (e.g stocking density and enrichment), and how we can use the behaviour of the pigs in assessing their welfare (e.g. hierarchical issues, lameness etc.). We also talked more globally about the impact of genetic selection, economics and trade on the management of pigs and how this can impact on their welfare. 

The students were fascinated by the way in which piglets develop a teat order (each piglet has their own teat at the udder), that the sow only lets down milk for around 20 seconds every hour (milk let down) and she vocalises to communicate to them that milk is on it’s way – a brilliant evolutionary strategy to ensure all piglets are present and correct at feeding time and that fighting by piglets at the udder is minimised.  Here are those happy piglets in action

Thursday, 10 March 2016

JMICAWE's Heather Bacon shortlisted for CEVA Vet of the Year Award 2016

JMICAWE is delighted to announce that our very own vet Heather Bacon is one of three vets shortlisted for the Chris Laurence Vet of the Year award.

Heather said “The CEVA animal welfare awards receive hundreds of nominations from all over the world, so just being shortlisted is a huge honour. These awards are so important in promoting the role of the vet in animal welfare, but it is also essential to recognise the amazing teamwork that is essential for effectively improving animal welfare.”

The award winners will be announced on April 6th 2016 - we all join in wishing her the very best of luck at this prestigious award ceremony.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

British Veterinary Association launch Animal Welfare Strategy

Animal welfare has been declared as the profession’s “raison d’etre” by the President of the BVA, Sean Wensley, at the launch of the BVA’s new animal welfare strategy. Building on the recently launched VetFutures report, a project led by the BVA and RCVS, which identified veterinary leadership in animal health and welfare as one of the six key ambitions in its 2030 vision for the veterinary profession, the BVA’s animal welfare strategy considers key areas of animal welfare education, policy and practice.

The JMICAE’s Heather Bacon sits on the BVA’s Ethics and Welfare committee and fed into the development of the strategy. “A good understanding of animal welfare is essential to the role of the modern vet”, said Heather. “Our society expects us to take a leadership role in animal welfare issues and students want us to ‘practice what we teach’, so advocating good animal welfare practice is at the centre of our professional responsibilities.”

The strategy can be downloaded at:

Friday, 4 March 2016

Dick Vet students provide free preventative care to the pets of homeless people

The Royal Dick Vet students provide free preventative veterinary treatment to the pets of homeless people

In keeping with the RDSVS philosophy of integrating animal welfare in teaching and practice, an exciting new initiative has been started by the vet students studying at the Dick Vet School in Edinburgh. Under the supervision of our qualified vets, they are offering free preventative veterinary treatment and advice for pets belonging to homeless people in Edinburgh. The All4Paws clinic will offer vaccines, flea, tick and worm medications as well as provide some supplies such as dog beds, blankets, collars and toys to support the welfare of the pets of those that are homeless.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Applied Animal Behaviour Elective students visit Edinburgh Cat Protection League

JMICAWE's vet nurse Hayley Walters took the students on a site visit to the Edinburgh Cat Protection League in Leith yesterday.  They look very at home inside one of the cat enclosures, learning how best to care for felines under potentially stressful circumstances.  The importance of promoting animal welfare in such a semi-captive, albeit temporary, environment was emphasised during the visit, and the students also went to the Edinburgh Dog & Cat Home to compare and contrast the welfare facilities.