Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Veterinary Care for Working Equids: A Talk by Polly Compston

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education is excited to announce that the Senior Veterinary Adviser at The Brooke, Polly Compston, has agreed to speak at the New Dick Vet School as a part of the special lecture series it runs each year. 



Polly will be coming to Easter Bush Campus from The Brooke to give a talk on working horses, donkeys and mules in low-income countries on Friday, June 5th.
Polly graduated from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in 2007 and started her career in mixed general practice. After a period of time working as a veterinary volunteer overseas she completed a residency in Clinical Research at Rossdales Equine Hospital in Newmarket alongside an MSc from the RVC in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health.  She moved to The Brooke, an international animal welfare NGO in November 2013, where she is currently the Senior Veterinary Adviser.

The Brooke is an international organisation that works globally dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules, and their owners, in some of the world's poorest communities. You can find out more about it here:         

There are three main ways in which they work: by strengthening service provision systems; through engagement with communities to identify and solve their animal health and welfare problems; and advocacy at national and international levels. This talk will give an overview of the problems that working equids face and how organisations like The Brooke can have an impact on their health and welfare.

We are really excited that Polly has agreed to come and present this talk to us – we have no doubt that it will be very informative and not to be missed! We look forward to welcoming her on June 5th and keep an eye on our blog for a post about the talk!

Monday, 25 May 2015

2nd Regional Meeting of Animal Welfare Groups in The Balkans

JMICAWE veterinary nurse Hayley Walters has recently returned from Croatia after presenting at the 2nd regional meeting of animal welfare experts in the Balkans.

The committee  was created last year by Alex Hammond Seaman of RSPCA International and Tomislav Mikus  of the Croatian Veterinary Institute and is the beginnings of a network and forum for sharing knowledge and experiences from different sectors and stakeholders across 8 different non EU member countries; Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia , Albania and Kosovo. The meeting was attended by vets, OIE staff members, laboratory animal research/welfare scientists, animal behaviourists, veterinary lecturers, European commission members, NGOs and those involved in Dog Population Management.
Hayley spoke of the relevance of animal welfare in veterinary education and the challenges for the future. Since the integration of JMICAWE and our increase in animal welfare education into the curriculum over the last 4 years, research has shown that our students now show more empathy and recognise higher levels of sentience in animals as opposed to findings from research carried out pre 2011. Hayley also spoke about the importance of using models and manikins instead of live animals in teaching clinical and surgical skills. Research has shown that 91% of students who are taught clinical skills on animal alternatives, such as models and manikins, rated their learning experience equal or superior to learning on a live teaching animal.
This information was well received by the 40 strong audience and interest was shown by both Serbian and Slovenian vets who still use live teaching animals in their teaching and would like JMICAWE to run a ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop in their vet schools.
Hayley said, “It was wonderful to see so many passionate animal welfare experts, from so many different countries who were freely volunteering their time to speak or attend, altogether in the same room. The Balkan region has a long, sad history of wars where human welfare has been compromised but now the time is here for attention to be turned to improving animal welfare through collaborative efforts”.

It’s a very new committee that is a work in progress but it’s a platform where Balkan member countries can meet to avoid duplication of the same animal welfare mistakes from the past, share expertise and collaborate on a regional level.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Communicating Science: A Bold Lion?

The Living Links department at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo recently held a science communication competition as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival. It took place over a weekend in April, and JMICAWE's Jill Mackay was one of six speakers invited to take part.

The competition involved giving a 3 minute scientific talk on Animal Cultures - in other words, how animals relate and interact with one another - and as you can imagine, Jill found it quite a challenge to communicate a full scientific message within this timeframe!
Jill spoke about how we test animal personality, and chose to focus on Lions due to the event taking place at the zoo. Her brief but informative talk focussed on individual animal personality and how individuals are different within species, whilst addressing the issue of anthropomorphism and how we can show scientifically that some behaviours are more likely to occur than others within individual animals.
We are pleased to share that Jill won the competition, and both her talk and more information on the competition can be found on the Living Links website -

Jill really enjoyed the competition and the challenge of communicating some science in just 3 minutes, and would like to extend big thanks to the organisers, Lewis Dean and Alaina Macri for their hard work in coordinating it all.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Dogs and Society Workshop in Santiago, Chile - May 2015

Last week saw the JMICAWE’s Director Prof Nat Waran and Veterinary Outreach Manager Heather Bacon in Chile, for the start of a joint initiative between Edinburgh University's Jeanne Marchig International Animal Welfare Centre and the Sustainability Research Centre at Universidad Andres Bello.




The purpose of the one day workshop was to bring together key Researchers, Academics, Policy Makers and NGOs to discuss the issues relating to interactions between people and dogs in Chile. The objective was to develop a joint understanding of the human- dog relationship and to explore how, through research and policy, it may be possible to use evidence-based humane approaches to managing health and welfare concerns relating to increasing dog ownership. These concerns can include pet behaviour problems, pet neglect and abandonment and associated high numbers of dogs in shelters, as well as public health and animal welfare issues associated with increasing number of stray and street dogs within Chile.
Dogs present an international dilemma. In most countries they are considered to be ‘man’s best friend’, and pet numbers are increasing along with veterinary treatment possibilities and a strong pet food and product industry. Yet they are also considered as pests, being seen in some parts of the world as a public health problem due to dog bites and associated injuries, as well as the risk of disease or parasite transmission, such as rabies.
The number of dogs in Chile is estimated to be over 3 million, with a median human per dog ratio of 4.8. As with other parts of the world, the presence of an uncontrolled canine population poses risks not just to the health and welfare of the public, but also environmental health risks and concerns for the welfare of the dogs themselves.
Dogs are attracted to places where humans live and often this will bring them into conflict resulting in damage to property and injury to humans and dogs. Because stray dogs are so clearly visible in the streets, they attract the attention of the public and tourists, with rising numbers of dog bites sometimes leading to life-threatening consequences. In various parts of the world, management of the expanding dog population has involved the implementation of animal breeding control programmes along with vaccinations campaigns to tackle zoonotic disease risks, alongside education programmes for children to help with safety awareness.
We will keep you up-to-date with our work in Chile, but in the mean time if you are interested in learning more about Street dogs, why not watch our short film dedicated to them on YouTube?


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Use of Online Learning as CPD within Animal Welfare Organisations

We are very proud of one of our MSc in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law (IAWEL) students Lee Read, who recently presented preliminary results of his MSc dissertation project at the British Society of Animal Science Annual Conference (BSAS), 'Science With Impact', at the University of Chester.

One of the conference themes was 'knowledge transfer and education', and 'bridging the gap between policy and research'. BSAS works to improve the understanding of animal science and the ways it can help ensure food is produced ethically and economically. As an organisation they promote accessible science and during the 2015 annual conference were keen to have a range of papers looking at innovative educational projects.

 Lee presented preliminary evaluation of the bespoke Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course that the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education designed for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Lee's project, titled "The use of online learning as continuing professional development within animal welfare organisations: A case study with IFAW' found that IFAW staff members had a generally positive response to the professional development program, with more IFAW staff members reporting that they felt very confident in describing IFAW's ethical position with regards to animal welfare issues, and 90% of staff members strongly agreed that animal welfare was based in science (versus 80% who felt this way prior to doing the course).
Lee also investigated how different learner types responded to the online format of the course, and intends to use this to inform the creation of virtual learning environments in future projects.

This work will allow animal welfare scientists to build better interventions in future, and refine the educational materials already in use. Lee's work also supports the evidence based approach to animal welfare, by demonstrating how an evidence led approach can make a measurable change in peoples' knowledge and attitudes to animal welfare, as well as providing education in an enjoyable and flexible setting.