Friday, 23 December 2016

Seasons Greetings

We wish you all a happy and restful Christmas and New Year, wherever you are in the world

As we come to the close of 2016, we would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for all that you do to further animal welfare in your work.  Without the support and collaboration of people like you, our team would not have been able to achieve what we have over the past year, and certainly the future of animal welfare would not have moved forward as it has.  Highlights of our year include:

  •             The ‘Send a Vet Nurse’ projects in India and Sri Lanka, as well as collaborating with the Indian Government to run a production animal health and welfare workshop for veterinarians and researchers working in Animal Science and Veterinary medicine;

  •       Working visits to Edinburgh by the Deans and representatives from Indonesian, Philippine and Chinese veterinary schools to learn about international standards, innovation in veterinary teaching, integration of animal welfare and best practice animal care;

  •       Ongoing collaboration with Dogs Trust to improve free-roaming dog welfare around the world;

  •            Jointly hosting the 50th Anniversary meeting of International Society for Applied Ethology in Edinburgh, which was attended by a record 600 delegates; 

  •       Improving zoo veterinary skills in China, Japan and Indonesia through collaborations with Animals Asia and Wild Welfare;

  •       The continuing success of our free online course (MOOC) in Animal Welfare, and a new Dog & Cat MOOC to be launched in 2017;

  •       The graduation of more ‘online’ Masters students in Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law and an increase in our Animal Welfare Masters community to more than 150 each year;

  •       The delivery of animal welfare education to multiple partners around the world including China, India, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, USA, Canada and Spain.

Finally, we are extremely grateful to the Marchig Trust for providing the funding that supports the Centre’s work as an integrated unit within the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh.           

With our very best wishes and many thanks to you all,
from Professor Cathy Dwyer and the team at the
Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

November IAWEL MSc graduation ceremony

At the end of November we celebrated the graduation of our International Animal Welfare Ethics and Law MSc students. The graduation ceremony took place at the University of  Edinburgh’s beautiful Usher Hall and afterwards our graduates and their families were invited to a post-graduation drinks reception at the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh.

We very much enjoyed meeting up with our students, some of whom we had never met in person before due to the online nature of the MSc in International Animal Welfare Ethics and Law.  This year, graduate Jane Stirling was awarded the UFAW prize for the best dissertation for her thesis entitled: Does the cage-trapping of corvids cause unnecessary suffering? A behavioural study of trapped magpies (Pica pica).

The ceremony is a wonderful way to celebrate their achievements and we congratulate all our graduates, those that were able to attend the ceremony and those that could not make it to Edinburgh this time. We welcome the graduates into our growing IAWEL Alumni community and wish them all the best in whatever they do next. 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

JMICAWE has a new Director.

JMICAWE has a new Director

Following the departure of the inaugural Director of JMICAWE, Prof Natalie Waran, to a new job in New Zealand in September, we are delighted to announce that a new Director of the Centre has been  formally appointed.

Prof Cathy Dwyer has taken over the leadership of the Centre with effect from 1st December 2016. Cathy will combine the role with her continuing job as the head of the Animal Behaviour and Welfare research team at SRUC (Scottish Rural College). Cathy’s background has been as a research scientist specialising in livestock behaviour and welfare, as well as teaching on BSc and MSc programmes in animal behaviour and welfare. She is an expert in maternal behaviour in sheep and lamb survival, but also conducts research in behavioural development, animal pain and welfare assessment, particularly of extensively managed animals. She has supervised many BSc, MSc and PhD students in these fields. She was awarded the BSAS/RSPCA award for innovative developments in animal welfare in 2013 in recognition of her research in animal welfare. In addition to her research and teaching, Cathy is passionate about research making a difference to the lives of animals, and has worked with farmers, in participative projects, and given talks to the general public, participated in many science festival events and talked about animal welfare to school children.

Cathy has previously worked with Nat and others in the JMICAWE team on delivering workshops in livestock welfare in India and in running the 50th Anniversary meeting of the International Society for Applied Ethology in Edinburgh in July 2016. Her appointment to the Directorship will bring the SRUC research team and the education function of the Centre closer together to develop a strong presence in animal welfare at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus.

Cathy says, ‘It will be a hard act to follow Nat’s inspirational leadership of the Centre, but I am looking forward to the challenge of continuing her good work and of increasing the excellent reputation of the Centre globally’.

A very big welcome to Cathy, we look forward to working alongside you.   


Wednesday, 14 December 2016


New Delhi

JMICAWE has recently been involved in visits and workshops in New Delhi, India. Our new Director Professor Cathy Dwyer and Dr Marie Haskell visited Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in late November. Both Universities are engaged in developing animal welfare education opportunities for students in India. There are currently no university degrees covering animal welfare in India, and veterinary students receive only a few hours of training in animal welfare. We will be working with both Universities to help them develop teaching materials to address this issue. Whilst at IGNOU Cathy recorded a radio interview, for broadcast as part of the course on IGNOU’s dedicated radio channel, and both Cathy and Marie gave seminars on animal welfare and animal cognition at JNU attended by students, faculty and NGOs. This led to a lively debate on current welfare issues in India, particularly issues with stray dogs and stray cows. 

Cathy and Marie were then joined by SRUC scientists, Laura Dixon and Fritha Langford, to host a 2-day workshop at the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) on 1-2 December. We discussed concepts in animal welfare, the need for an evidence-based approach to animal welfare assessment and provided training in animal welfare science methods. This involved a ‘hands on’ session where the thermal imaging equipment sparked much hilarity about who was the coolest! After the workshop we spent a day visiting the ICAR dairy research centre to hear about some of the behaviour projects they are beginning to carry out there, and to discuss future collaborations. We are looking forward to hearing the outcomes of the cognition tests for buffalo calves!

We concluded the visit by a trip to a ‘gaushala’ which provides a home for non-productive stray cows. Cows are sacred to the Hindu religion, and Indian law prohibits the culling of cows. However, this means that elderly or non-productive animals are often left to roam the streets. Gaushalas collect these cows from the streets and volunteers work to worship and take care of them. We were greeted with garlands of marigolds, and took part in a ceremony to honour the cows with jaggery (palm sugar) and some ceremonial cleaning of the stables (in which we participated a little too enthusiastically in sweeping up). The visits ended with prayers in the shrine and a blessing from an old lady who has dedicated her life to worshipping cows.   


Monday, 12 December 2016

Send a Vet Nurse to Sri Lanka - project report

Two vets, 5 vet nurses and 1 Sri Lankan vet school

This month sees the return of our veterinary nurse Hayley Walters and vet Heather Bacon from their two week visit to Kandy, Sri Lanka where they led a team of three newly qualified veterinary nurses, one student veterinary nurse and one feline medicine vet.

The ‘Send a Vet Nurse to Sri Lanka’ project was a collaboration between the JMICAWE and the University of Peradeniya’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Sri Lanka’s only vet school.

The project involved fully integrating the vet nurse team into the teaching hospital in Sri Lanka and demonstrating to their Sri Lankan counterparts the invaluable support a well-trained VN has to offer in not only improving animal welfare but also the smooth-running of a hospital.

The VNs were professional, hardworking, compassionate and despite being either students or newly qualified, developed the confidence to teach and explain to the vet students there what they were doing and why.

Hayley said, “Sri Lanka has a few challenges when it comes to the veterinary profession: 1) one vet school is providing the education for every single vet in the country and they are incredibly busy and sometimes understaffed; 2) they don’t have trained, qualified veterinary nurses to provide the supportive care needed to ensure a high level of patient care. Many of the small animals that arrive at the hospital are badly injured in road traffic accidents or have complicated medical conditions, but with limited staff and resources, many of the animals are unable to receive the level of care they need as there are almost no staff dedicated to their daily needs”.

Currently in Sri Lanka, trained veterinary surgeons are responsible for all veterinary duties, from basic techniques such as blood sampling or bandaging, to complex surgical procedures. The vast scope of this workload is a challenge to the development of the profession, as excessive time is taken up with minor procedures, basic animal management, and logistics such as stock control, which would, in other parts of the world, normally be the responsibility of the veterinary nurse.

The 4 VNs fully immersed themselves in all aspects of hospital work including the inpatient area, anaesthetic monitoring, surgical patient preparation, handling, cleaning and physiotherapy. The evenings were spent delivering workshops to students and faculty members, clinical skills practise on models and manikins and protocol writing to improve patient care and the running of the hospital. The University had also invited the dog units of the Sri Lankan police, army, navy and air force to attend so outreach was larger than originally expected.

The University of Peradeniya’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science were impressed with what the vet nurses had to offer and all faculty members unanimously agreed to endorse a VN training programme and qualification.

Hayley has just finished writing a VN curriculum for the university to consider and we hope to see Sri Lanka’s first ever Veterinary Nurse Training Curriculum and Associated Diploma Level Qualification in the near future. We trust this will be a long and successful collaboration.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Judging animal welfare in the US

Judging Animal Welfare

The annual US Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Competition was held at Columbus in Ohio State in November this year, sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (

This is an initiative originally developed by Michigan State University and Purdue to engage undergraduate Animal Science students with Animal Welfare, and has now grown to include veterinary undergraduates and graduate students, with around 100 students from schools across USA and Canada taking part this year. Students reviewed two different scenarios for each of three different species management (meat sheep, laboratory guinea pigs and pedigree dogs) and one live scenario (poultry), and provided reasoning for why welfare was better in one situation compared to another. 

This year Prof Cathy Dwyer was one of the judges for the meat sheep scenarios, alongside animal scientists and veterinarians from Canada and the US, and also gave a guest lecture on welfare issues associated with sheep production. It was a fun, thought-provoking and exhausting weekend, with lots of intense debate about the welfare merits or costs of various practices, and Cathy was very impressed with the dedication and hard work of all the students and coaches, many of whom were students themselves. Listening to, and marking, the rapid fire delivery of 40 students, each explaining the welfare benefits of sheep scenarios in three minutes, was hard work but very rewarding to see so much attention to detail in thinking about animal welfare. Congratulations to the University of British Colombia on winning the overall best team trophy, and to all the other winners and runners-up for a close-fought competition with such impressive breadth of welfare thinking.