Monday, 27 August 2012

Developing animal welfare education with our on-campus MSc AABAW in collaboration with the SAC.

We are delighted that our MSc in Applied Animal Welfare and Behaviour (AABAW) has launched a new website at 

The MSc AABAW was established as the first animal welfare Masters programme in the UK in 1990. The programme was originally introduced by Professor David Wood-Gush, who was one of the first scientists to investigate the effects of intensive farming on animal behaviour and welfare. He was then joined by Nat Waran (now the Director of the JMICAWE) to become the first programme director. Over the last 22 years the programme has grown significantly, and today, under the directorship of Dr Susan Jarvis, it has a strong international reputation, and the support of well-known local and international animal welfare organisations including WSPA, SSPCA, UFAW and RSPCA.

The University of Edinburgh, through the R(D)SVS's Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE) and the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), through their Animal Welfare Team, continue to collaborate in the development and delivery, of what has become known as the gold standard PG taught programme, in applied animal behaviour and animal welfare.  One of the main aims is to enhance student knowledge and understanding of the scientific study of the application of animal behaviour for assessing and improving animal welfare.

Students from this programme join a research rich taught programme and gain knowledge that can be applied to working within:
animal management
animal care
inspection, assessment and preparation of legislation

Students also benefit from the considerable knowledge and experience of professionals working throughout the international animal behaviour and welfare community. In addition to the core SAC and University teaching team, we invite many guest lecturers from worldwide organisations and institutes.

Applications have closed for 2012-13, and due to the popularity of this programme, we urge potential applicants to visit the website or visit the Facebook page to get the information required for early application for 2013-2014.

Monday, 20 August 2012

JMICAWE activities in China

This week Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE is in China, meeting with representatives from several organisations in order to promote animal welfare.

Working with the China Association of Zoo Gardens, the North-Eastern Forestry University, Animals Asia Foundation and Humane Society International, an animal welfare-focussed educational programme has been delivered to staff from zoos and aquaria around China utilising expertise from the UK and USA.  Additionally, discussions with Professor Zhao of the law department at the North-Eastern Forestry University have highlighted the already well-established dedication to animal welfare education present in China.

Professor Zhao lectures in law and focuses on animal welfare policy. As an advisor to the provincial government she is responsible for developing and advising on animal welfare policy relating to livestock husbandry and transport, and undertook her PhD research on zoo animal welfare assessment in China. She is one of a growing number of dedicated animal welfare experts, eager to develop and share their knowledge of this relatively new academic discipline.

We look forward to further interactions with more of China’s animal welfare champions later in the year.

Photo L-R= Prof Zhao, Margaret Whittaker Active Environments, Dr Sonya Hill Animal Welfare Scientists Chester zoo, Dave Neale Animals Asia, HJB JMICAWE, Teresa Telecky Humane Society International, Lisa Yang Animals Asia.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Heather to speak at DEFRA Dog Population Management Conference

We are delighted to announce that Heather Bacon, the Outreach Veterinary Manager for the JMICAWE will be speaking at the 1st International Conference on Dog Population Management 2012, September 4-8, 2012.

Heather will be presenting a case study in Session 15 on ‘Dog Management issues and the meat industry’.

The main objective of the conference is to bring the public sector together with ecologists, economists and specialists in animal welfare, animal health and education.
Specific aims are:
  • To facilitate discussions and sharing of information on DPM among stakeholders;
  • To promote awareness of novel technologies, such as immune-contraception, vaccine delivery systems and software for DPM;
  • To encourage inter-sectoral collaboration, innovation and policy development, particularly in the context of rabies control
  • To provide evidence-based information for effective, humane DPM;
  • To promote animal and human health and wellbeing by reducing the incidence of zoonoses and the environmental impacts associated with dog population control.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Using a negative reinforcement technique to change Equine Behaviour

Gemma Pearson, one of our vets within the Equine Clinic at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and a member of the ISES-UK 2012 Committee, which organised the ISES conference sponsored by the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE), explains that by applying simple, scientifically validated training techniques, she is able to work with ‘difficult’ horses to successfully get them to change their behaviour, from being fearful and thus at times dangerous to becoming less stressed and calm.

Read her article in Sept’s H O R S E & R I D E R magazine .... it shouldn’t happen to a vet.
Horse vets are highly trained
to diagnose and treat
injuries and disease.
However, their work with
sick horses places them at a high
risk of personal injury.
UK vet Gemma Pearson
surveyed vets and support staff at
the Equine Clinic at the Royal (Dick)
College of Veterinary Science in
Edinburgh, and found that in a year,
eight staff experienced an injury
serious enough to need treatment,
with five requiring hospitalisation.
Staff reported that they
encountered difficult-to-manage
horses that put their personal
safety at risk on a daily basis.

 “Within the constraints of a busy
clinic responsible for specialist
referrals for Scotland and much of
northern England, developing
strategies to reduce injuries by
improving horse handling was a
priority,” Gemma says. “By applying
simple, scientifically validated
training techniques, we were able
to handle a number of horses who
had previously injured the handlers
and vets treating them.”
Gemma’s work focused on two
of the most common sources of
difficult behaviour; refusing to enter
the examination stocks and being
needle-shy, which staff reported
encountering on a daily basis.
“To manage horses which were
reluctant to enter the examination
stocks, we applied a negative
reinforcement technique, which
involved applying a mildly aversive
cue to the horse and then
rewarding him for approaching the
stocks by taking the cue away.
“In this way, the horses learn
that approaching and then entering
the stocks will result in the cue
disappearing,” she explains. “Within a
very short period our ‘difficult’ horses
were calmly entering and remaining in
the stocks.”

Gemma continues: “Our needle-shy
horses had previously reared up and
injured vets, however, by applying a
technique known as overshadowing,
we were able to give these horses
injections without danger to ourselves
or the horse.” Overshadowing involves
applying a neutral cue – to step back
or come forwards from pressure on
the halter – while also exposing the
horse to the object it fears, in this
case, the needle.
“We started very gradually and
broke the injection process down into
small steps,” she explains. “By
ensuring that the horse responded to
our neutral cues immediately and
calmly, we could overshadow his fear
of the needle. Within a single session,
we could administer an injection.”
Key to both methods is making
sure that the horse stays as calm and
relaxed as possible, reducing the
likelihood it will react fear fully or
uncontrollably, so the treatment can
be completed efficiently and with a
minimum of stress to horse or vet.

While traditional restraint
techniques such as sedation and
nose twitching will always have a
place, vets incorporating these simple
scientific techniques reduce their risk
of injury and boost client confidence.
“We believe that horses and their
owners will benefit enormously from a
reduction in the stress and anxiety,”
Gemma Pearson concludes.

Gemma presented these findings at
the 2012 International Society for
Equitation Science (ISES) conference
– ISES is a not-for-profit organisation
that aims to facilitate research into
the training of horses to enhance
horse welfare and improve the horserider

Gemma can be contacted through the R(D)SVS first referral equine clinic or the equine hospital at the Dick Vet on 0131 650 6253.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

CPD event - How to provide an expert statement in an animal welfare case.



R(D)SVS and the Scottish SPCA are holding a Veterinary CPD event: Veterinary surgeons and the Scottish court system

East Bush Campus, Midlothian, 14th November 2012, 12 to 5pm (including lunch)

Practitioners have raised concerns with the Scottish SPCA about providing expert witness statements and evidence for animal welfare court proceedings. This one-day conference will give an insight into the Scottish court system and how to provide an expert statement in an animal welfare case.


·         The role of the Scottish SPCA and other enforcement bodies.

·         The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 (Scottish Government and Animal Health)

·         The value of veterinary pathology in welfare cases

·         The experience of a veterinary surgeon providing an expert statement

·         The requirements of the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal service, including court procedure

·         A sheriff’s perspective on animal welfare cases


·         A practising sheriff

·         A Crown Office procurator fiscal

·         A veterinary pathologist

·         Government officials from the Animal Health and Welfare Division.

COST: £40 including lunch.
Places are limited so please book early.
This course counts towards 4 hours CPD (confirmed by RCVS).

For further details and booking, contact

This course is sponsored by Scottish SPCA and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Joint Animal Welfare Meeting at the 3rd China Veterinary Conference

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education is proud to partner with the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association to deliver a world-class programme on Animal Welfare at the 3rd China Veterinary Conference in Suzhou in October. 

With generous funding from the Animals Asia Foundation and WSPA, the conference will bring together Chinese and Western veterinarians and welfare scientists in a 3 day programme covering a range of topics from humane slaughter to responsible dog breeding and the role of the veterinary nurse in promoting animal welfare. The diversity of the material covered will inform and empower veterinarians working in all fields including laboratory animal science, livestock and companion animals, and will promote the role of the veterinarian as a champion of animal welfare in a country where animal protection legislation does not yet exist.

The conference is an excellent example of the desire for international collaboration, training and development of the veterinary profession in China, and an opportunity to engage both practising veterinarians and veterinary students in relevant animal welfare issues