Friday, 20 April 2018

Understanding the mind of the horse - Dr Helen Spence


Understanding the mind of the horse, with Dr Helen Spence

Ellie Girgis writes:

On the 21st February 2018, students and staff of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies gathered at Easter Bush Campus to hear Dr Helen Spence (an academic, and working Equine Behaviour and Training Consultant) explain her approach to understanding the mind of the horse.

Dr Spence explained the various emotional drivers and the underlying physiological processes which result in the outward displays of specific behaviours and expressions in our horses. Dr Spence impressed the importance of understanding these processes for both compassionate and effective handling and training. 

               Ellie Girgis (on left) with Dr Helen Spence


In association with the R(D)SVS Horse Society, with whom they jointly hosted Dr Spence, the Dick Vet Animal Behaviour Society expresses their sincere thanks to Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education for their generous sponsorship, without which this event would not have been possible!



Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Dick Vet Behaviour & Nutrition Conference


Dick Vet Behaviour & Nutrition Conference

On Saturday 24th February, the Dick Vet Animal Behaviour Society and RDSVS Nutrition Society hosted their second joint Behaviour and Nutrition Conference. It was an excellent day, with 114 attendees consisting of students and staff from both the Dick Vet and Glasgow Vet School.

The day started early with breakfast before kicking off a full day of lectures on behaviour and nutrition topics.  Behaviour talks included:-
  • Training for Common Behaviour Problems with Dogs Trust Senior Behaviour and Training Adviser Alasdair Bunyan;
  • Aggression in Farm Species with R(D)SVS’ own Paul Wood; and 
  • How to Run a Behaviour Consult with University of Lincoln’s veterinary behaviourist Kevin McPeake.
Kevin McPeake


Nutrition talks covered:-
  • Dispelling Nutrition Myths with Royal Canin’s Hannah Poile;
  • The Power of Innovative Nutrition in Clinical Practice with Dick Vet graduate Emma Henton from Hill’s Pet Nutrition; and
  • Nutrition for Wildlife with Jess Crabtree from the Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue.

The day concluded with a wine and cheese reception which gave the delegates time to relax and chat with each other and with the guest speakers. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive and clearly showed the desire for more behaviour and nutrition teaching for vet students!


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Shuchorita Epik wins runner-up in BVBA Veterinary Student Award



Shuchorita Epik, an undergraduate student at R(D)SVS with a keen interest in animal behaviour, was recently awarded the runner-up prize for the BVBA Veterinary Student Award.

She wrote this piece about her experience collecting the award in Birmingham on 4th April.

-" Attending the BVBA Study Day last week was a rewarding and very humbling experience for me, 
and I’m incredibly grateful to Dr. Amy Miele and everyone at the BVBA for such a valuable opportunity.

The process of writing the essay for this award made me reflect upon how much I have been taught in the last few years to allow me to carry my previous experience in animal behaviour into a future career as a veterinary clinician, something which I had been concerned about upon making the decision to shift fields.

I felt inspired hearing so many accomplished speakers discuss behaviour in its absolutely relevant context within the realm of animal medicine—in an age where animal welfare and ethics are still met with such controversy, it was incredibly uplifting to sit in a room full of such dedicated professionals. 

This very engaging conference day has left me with a great motivational boost to continue pursuing a post-graduation career in which behavioural considerations can be at the forefront of all of my clinical endeavors".


Many congratulations to Shochorita on her success!

Monday, 16 April 2018

Hayley Walters at BSAVA Congress 2018


JMICAWE vet nurse Hayley Walters recently spoke at BSAVA Congress in Birmingham. This is one of the biggest events on the veterinary calendar and is attended by vets and nurses from all over the world. Hayley gave two lectures: one on her experiences and challenges whilst working in developing nations; and the other on what to do if your patient’s welfare is compromised and your ethics are challenged. 

Her lectures were well received with many nurses coming up to speak to her afterwards. 

Hayley said, “It was such an honour to be able to speak at such a well respected event and I hope the vets and nurses at my lectures took away some really important information about how to improve their patient’s time in the clinic and what to expect when working in developing nations”. 


Hayley, along with JMICAWE's Veterinary Outreach Manager Heather Bacon, has been booked to speak again next year.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Introducing Jess Martin




A second Jess joined our team at the end of last year, not to be confused with Jess Davies, our Vet Nurse covering Hayley Walters' maternity leave.  Allow Dr Jess Martin to introduce herself...

"I am a Lecturer at the R(D)SVS, University of Edinburgh and a Clinical Research Associate of the Roslin Institute. I have a long standing research interest in animal consciousness and pain, especially relating this to commercial pig and poultry production. My work in this area has spanned both physiological and behavioural welfare impacts of intensive livestock systems to on-farm despatching methods, as well as full scale animal slaughter. I also have a strong investment in AgriTech innovation to enhance animal welfare as well as production for livestock species. I have worked on a wide range of research projects related to animal pain, welfare assessment, behaviour, animal ethics, animal slaughter and on-farm killing, and animal transport. Alongside my research I teach and provide expert support in experimental design and data analysis for staff and students at R(D)SVS. I am currently the Animal Welfare Research Network Champion for the University of Edinburgh.

My current work is evaluating the welfare impact of a novel stunning technique (Low Atmospheric Pressure stunning) for commercial pigs, to hopefully identify a more humane alternative to CO2 stunning in pigs. This project is being funded by Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) and is in collaboration with University of Glasgow and SRUC."





Thursday, 15 March 2018

Hayley Walters MBE

The whole team sends its congratulations to Hayley Walters, our JMICAWE Vet Nurse, who was at Buckingham Palace earlier today to collect her MBE from HRH the Prince of Wales


Well-deserved recognition for the work Hayley does to improve animal welfare worldwide.


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Tackling Dangerous Dog Legislation - Dr Amy Miele

Tackling Dangerous Dog Legislation

On Wednesday 28th February Dr Amy Miele of JMICAWE was invited to chair a Policy Exchange focussing on Dangerous Dog Legislation in the UK which was held in central London. The aim of this exchange was to foster interdisciplinary relationships, while also exploring alternatives to the controversial Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) of 1991 and its’ subsequent amendments. Alongside this, delegates shared best practice with regards to promoting responsible dog ownership and ensuring optimal canine and human welfare under the current legislative framework.


Dr Amy Miele is the Programme Director of the online learning MSc Clinical Animal Behaviour

The day included presentations from charities such as the RSPCA, Dogs Trust and Born Innocent, as well as from London Assembly Members and animal behaviour researchers working in the field. There was an emphasis on evidence based practice and Dr Samantha Gaines, RSPCA, was the first to set the scene with some statistics demonstrating the futility of breed specific legislation and the need for standardised reporting of dog bite incidents in order to inform appropriate preventative action. Dr Naomi Harvey, University of Nottingham, echoed these sentiments and presented data highlighting the high degree of within breed variation in behaviour traits. She emphasised that any genetic impact on behaviour should be considered at the level of the individual rather than the breed.

Ms Shaila Bux, Born Innocent, talked about the work that she and her colleagues do to help the owners of dogs who have been seized under Section 1 of the DDA. Her case studies highlighted concerns over the lack of standardisation with regards to the assessment of seized dogs and the welfare concerns that they face during prolonged periods of kennelling while awaiting assessment.

Assembly Members Leonie Cooper and Steve O’Connell from Labour and London Conservatives respectively, demonstrated the cross-party agreement on this important subject and discussed ways of promoting policy change. The day also included a presentation from Hollie Sevenoaks of Dogs Trust, who spoke about various Dogs Trust initiatives promoting responsible dog ownership. So far, Dogs Trust has reached over 330, 000 school children via their primary school workshops and they are in the process of analysing data that will inform on the impact of this work.

Delegates included Clinical Animal Behaviourist Kendal Shepherd, an experienced expert witness and Walter Pennell, a Dog Liaison Officer from South Wales Police, both of whom shared their wisdom and stories of best practice within the limitations of the current legal framework.

While the day uncovered severe flaws in the current Dangerous Dog legislation in the UK, the concluding remarks were positive, with a focus on continuing to build upon the cross-sector relationships forged during the day and fostering change, while also supporting initiatives focussing on public education and responsible pet-ownership.


Teaching children how to behave around dogs and about responsible dog ownership was one of the key initiatives discussed during the Policy Exchange

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Celebrating the role of mothers in animal welfare


Celebrating the role of mothers in animal welfare

Sunday 11th March is Mother’s Day here in UK. It is also the time of year when our fields start to fill with ewes and lambs, and cows and calves. This is a special time of the year for JMICAWE Director, Prof Cathy Dwyer, whose research work has focused on the role of mothers in improving the survival and welfare of newborn livestock, especially lambs. Mothers provide food and protection for their new offspring, but they also are sources of warmth, comfort and reassurance, and provide their offspring with opportunities to learn about the wider world.

The social and cognitive development of the young animal is shaped by maternal contact, and mothers can buffer their offspring from potentially negative or stressful things that may occur around them. Mothers provide a safe environment from which offspring can explore, play and engage in positive social behaviours, such as grooming. The maternal bond, or attachment between mother and offspring, is a really important component of survival, but also shapes the life of her offspring and sets them on the path to good welfare. Ensuring that young animals have a good social interaction with their mothers, and that mothers are properly cared for to allow them to express maternal behaviour is a vital part of animal welfare.

To mothers everywhere – we thank you for your role in making us who we are!    



Thursday, 8 March 2018

#PressforProgress on International Women’s Day


#PressforProgress on International Women’s Day, 8th March 2018

Today is International Women’s Day when we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. For 2018 this is also about acting to achieve gender parity. Here at JMICAWE we want to mark the fantastic achievements that women have made for animal welfare.

Women have always played a central role in animal welfare, from the early pioneers of animal welfare science, the founders, directors and CEOs of animal welfare charities and NGOs, and the current researchers, teachers, advocates, veterinarians, veterinary nurses and animal carers. Animal welfare science, and the veterinary profession, is increasingly becoming a female-oriented field. Our care and compassion for the animals that we share our world with is helping to improve their lives, and also the lives of those who depend upon animals in their daily lives.

Often in the poorer countries on our planet it is women who are responsible for the care and welfare of animals, although their contribution to family education, income and quality of life may go unrecognised. In 2018 we want to speak up for these women, celebrate the vital role of women in improving animal welfare, and remember to #PressforProgress in recognising the role women play and working towards gender parity in all areas. 

Finally, the core JMICAWE team are all women, and the wider JMICAWE family is also largely female. It is an inspiration to be able to work with such dedicated, professional and hard-working women, who are passionate about bringing about improvements in animal welfare. Thank you all for your fantastic achievements and your compassion, care and dedication to animal welfare.







Update on veterinary nurse project in Kerala


After the Philippines workshop, the JMICAWE team made their way to Southern India to the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University campus in Mannuthy for a meeting with the Dean of the vet school and fellow senior faculty members to discuss ongoing collaborative projects including the Veterinary Assistant/Nurse program which will hopefully be up and running later this year.




The team were then kindly given a tour of the new teaching hospital that is in its final stages of construction and were also able to take a look around the large animal unit of the University to see the ongoing developments with the chickens, pigs, cows and water buffalo.




Monday, 5 March 2018

Animal Welfare Science for Veterinarians Workshop in Philippines


Animal Welfare Science for Veterinarians Workshop in Philippines

Last month, JMICAWE staff Cathy Dwyer, Heather Bacon and Jess Davies led a two-day workshop in Manila, Philippines, on Animal Welfare Science for Veterinarians. The team were hosted by Dr Dan Ventura (Dr Dan), from College of Veterinary Medicine in SouthWestern University and Dr Alvin Alvarez (Dr Awa), from Cavite State University, and the workshop was sponsored by Ceva and Cavite State University.



The event was delivered in collaboration with the Philippines Veterinary Medical Association and preceded the annual meeting of the PVMA, where Heather was also a guest speaker. Thirty-five members of various veterinary schools across the Philippines attended and were an enthusiastic and engaged audience, discussing such topics as new developments in animal welfare science, dog population management, farm animal welfare and the teaching of welfare and clinical skills to veterinary students.

Attendees also got to try out their skills in behavioural observation, assessing the welfare of dogs and pigs, as well as experimenting with the JMICAWE teaching aids.



We were delighted by the enthusiasm and interest of the participants, and how much discussion and debate was generated at the workshop. It is great that there is so much interest in animal welfare education for vets in the Philippines’ said Cathy after the meeting.

Following the meeting Jess and Cathy were lucky enough to travel to the beautiful University of the Philippines Los Banos campus with Dr Eduardo Torres, and visited the veterinary hospital there. Plans are underway to hold a similar event next February, at the Los Banos campus.



Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Blog from Asia for Animals - Kathmandu December 2017

Judith Velarde of PAWS Philippines writes:

My trip to Nepal was awesome! I think this is one of the most exciting and at the same time productive as well as full of learning trip that I've ever had so far.

Before this conference, I don't know anything about Nepal before aside from the fact that they are the only country who doesn't have a rectangular flag. When our shelter director informed us about AFA Kathmandu, I am one of the first who expressed intention to join. But as the days goes by, I realized that it will be a long shot just because it was expensive.  Majority of us started to lose hope that maybe it will just be an unfulfilled dream. So we tried to look for sponsors. AFA committee were so accommodating and advised us to wait. As soon as the application for sponsorship came, we submitted our forms and wish that I'll one of those chosen ones. We waited, patiently. 

Good news came that all of us will received sponsorship for the conference and accommodation so all we need is an airfare and some pocket money. We started saving for trip.  Then another good news came in! I was chosen by JMICAWE to receive a travel scholarship and for that I really thanked them. It's an honor to be chosen amongst all the participants.

AFA Conference 2017 runs for 4 days from December 2 until 5.  This is where different organizations from across different countries provide talks and workshop evolving on changing human behavior which has and will have a great impact on the animal welfare world. Just being in that conference is a very up lifting. Seeing all those people with the same passion as you have is just really comforting.


Another highlight was the fieldtrip. We went to Chitwan National Park where we had an experience to walk with the elephants into the jungle and saw rhinos up close. It was very very surreal. No picture or video will bring justice as to how majestic and beautiful they are in the wild. It is just mesmerizing!

This conference is actually an eye opener that you are not alone in whatever battle you have. Somewhere out there, there is always someone fighting the same battle as you do. We may be far from really reaching our ultimate dream but take time to pause and celebrate our wins. May it be as simple as a senior dog getting adopted from a local shelter or as impactful as not a single rhinos was killed by the poachers in Nepal for the past 3 years. Animals can't talk but if they could, they would be thanking each and everyone of us in doing the things big or small that will protect them and would make their lives worthwhile.

Again, thanks for to JMICAWE for making this trip possible and I'm looking forward in joining the next AFA conference.

Judith and the other staff from the PAWS Shelter

Monday, 29 January 2018

Changing Human Behaviour for Sharks

Changing Human Behaviour for Sharks

Naomi Clark-Shen was sponsored by JMICAWE to attend the AFA Conference on Human Behaviour Change in Nepal back in December.  Naomi works on shark conservation in Indonesia and Singapore.

On the second day of the conference Naomi spoke about how her work looks at changing two extreme ends of behaviour; that of wealthy consumers who behave (eat shark fin) out of convenience, and that of fishermen who behave (hunt sharks) to survive.



Her work tries to achieve this by bringing shark consumers and shark hunters together – on an eco-tourism trip where the shark fishermen take guests snorkelling. Naomi shared how ultimately the shark fishing industry is more complex than many think, and a solution is far from being achieved. 

“This conference was interesting because the focus was on animal welfare – whereas my work is conservation. These fields are actually very different. I am passionate about animal welfare though, and listening to the other talks re-sparked my interest in getting back into welfare work as well.”


“There was another person working on shark fishing, in Pakistan, and it was great to learn from him. The conference was very uplifting. I was pleasantly surprised at how far the animal movement has come in Asia.”