This Week in Welfare - Project
Our Publications Team endeavours to raise awareness on important animal welfare issues worldwide by regularly posting short articles on our social media channels.
We have covered topics from brachycephalic dogs to welfare of zoo animals to commercial whaling. We aim for these posts to promote discussion amongst vet students internationally, as well as highlight the animal welfare issues we as future vets face and need to tackle!
This Week in Welfare #15: Stray dogs
Stray dogs are a problem all around the globe, especially in third world countries. They can
be a danger to people, cause car accidents and worst, carry zoonotic diseases like rabies.
Of course as vets we want to help every single animal but this can be hard when being
in a country, where thousands of dogs live on the streets, which are a danger to humans,
other animals and themselves and you get no support of the local government.
One way to control this problem, is to reduce the population by shooting as many (sick)
dogs as possible. But how could we do this without having a guilty conscience?
The good thing is, that we don’t need to because shooting a population would only attract other dogs to this new territory.
A better way to handle this problem is by vaccinating and spaying/neutering as many street dogs as possible. As vets we must also make the people and the government see the huge advantages of programs like these!
Lots of people worldwide dedicate their lives to such programs, Mission Rabies and WVS – World Veterinary Service are good examples. Vet students can benefit from volunteering their programs as they get thought how to spay and neuter dogs or learn the most efficient way of vaccination them by doing a lot of hands on work.
This Week in Welfare #13: Ivory Trade Ban in China
If you have been keeping an eye on the news of late you will have seen that China
has announced a ban on ivory trade by the end of 2017.
This is going to have a massive impact on the welfare of elephants and is great news
for the animal world!
The Ivory Trade is a large and lucrative market (see the video clip below for a brief
history of the Ivory Trade). Every year around 33,000 elephants are killed each year
for their ivory (1) and while measures have been put into place to prevent their poaching, not as much has been done to curve the demand for ivory worldwide. In 1989, selling Ivory was banned worldwide, however since then the ban has been lifted numerous times so it is still quite a large market. China has always been a big consumer of ivory; with it being used in traditional Chinese medicines and for ornaments amongst other purposes.
The banning of the ivory trade will lead to less animals being poached and slaughtered for their ivory which of course is a huge positive for their welfare.
There are concerns that the banning of ivory will cause an increase in the illegal ivory trade and that prices could increase therefore making it an even more desirable item. China has to keep a close eye and enforce tight regulations around the illegal selling of ivory, as well as monitoring the illegal internet trading of ivory to fully stop its circulation and have a positive effect for elephants.
China stopping its ivory trade is a great step in tackling poaching for ivory, however other countries such as Botswana and Zimbabwe must follow suit to end this once and for all.
This Week in Welfare #2: Brachycephalic dogs
Brachycephalic dogs have always been a cause for concern with regards to welfare. Their rise in popularity over the last decade due to pop culture and aesthetics has led to breeders producing vast amounts of brachycephalic breeds such as; Pugs and French Bulldogs. Intensive selective breeding for their short muzzles has heightened the problem. Although the issue has mainly been a cause of much discussion in the UK recently, this is an international welfare problem.
In May this year, the British Veterinary Association and British Small Animal Veterinary Association have released a statement about brachycephalic breeds stating that they are a cause for concern with regards to welfare (1). Additionally, leading figures in the Veterinary field internationally have called for better breeding standards for Pugs.
As we all know, brachycephalic dogs suffer from a wide range of health issues such as brachycephalic airway syndrome, pulmonary hypertension and dystocia which can have a great impact on their quality of life and welfare. Some of these can be corrected surgically but is this enough?
So what can we as future veterinarians do to deal with this problem? Do we need intervention on a government level to put laws and legislations into place to prevent overbreeding of brachycephalic dogs? Should we place a ban on brachycephalic breeds altogether on the grounds that their health issues can prevent them from expressing the 5 freedoms of animal welfare, or is this just not feasible? How can we change public views on the breeds to discourage them from purchasing one and encourage breeders to cross-breed when there is so much demand for and profit to be made from pure-bred animals?
There are many strategies that we can put into place but we need to consider what would be the most beneficial to the welfare of the breeds.
Further articles and papers which may be of interest with regards to this topic:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/…/j.1748-5827.1983.…/abstract - Paper discussing results of airway obstruction surgery in the dog
https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/brachycephalic-syndrome - Excellent discussion of different issues facing the brachycephalic breeds from the American College of Veterinary Surgeons
http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/173/20/489.extract - Article discussing issues with brachycephalic dogs
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37423040 - Article from the BBC highlighting the welfare issues facing brachycephalic dogs