Shining a light on animal welfare

WVAC animal welfare programme

This article is sponsored content brought to you by the New Zealand Veterinary Association.

When the World Veterinary Association Congress kicks off in Auckland next year (6-8 April), animal welfare will be to the fore. 

New Zealand sets a high bar for itself when it comes to protecting and valuing its ecological taonga. He mauri kararehe (animal wellbeing) is pivotal to those values. The way we interact with our pets, our farming practices and the way we care for animals in recreational pursuits all hinge on animal welfare. 

It’s not surprising, then, that the World Veterinary Association Congress (WVAC) being held in Auckland over three days in April 2020 has a strong animal welfare focus. Sessions across two days, give veterinarians and scientists an opportunity to showcase their expertise and contribute to meaningful discussions.  

The most topical, current and clinically relevant animal welfare research has been sought for the congress. 

Day one of the welfare presentations features New Zealand speakers from Massey University and the Eastern Institute of Technology. Among them is Natalie Waran, who helped solidify the concept of One Welfare (based on One Health). 

Also speaking on the first day is Ngaio Beausoleil, Co-Director and Co-Manager of the Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre at Massey University. Ngaio will present the most up-to-date version of the Five Domains Model. 

This model has transformed the way scientists, veterinarians and animal caretakers understand the physical and psychological worlds of animals. It departs from the commonly cited model of the past, which focused on eliminating negative physical feelings such as pain or thirst, and instead outlines how animals can experience a range of mental states, both positive and negative.

The first day’s programme also includes presentations on breathlessness in brachycephalic dog breeds, end-of-life management of older cats, One Welfare as it relates to disaster management and how to make a disaster management plan.

Day two is devoted entirely to equine welfare. One of the highlights is the inclusion of five non-governmental organisations dedicated to horse, donkey and working animal welfare. Joe Collins, from The Donkey Sanctuary in Ireland, says the congress is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the value of its projects in improving equine welfare as well as to communities in the developing world. 

Joe, alongside representatives from the other NGOs and New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, will host a series of clinical equine welfare talks. Topics include clinical aspects of donkeys and mules, reducing stress in hospitals, and an update on the global farriery project and global equine influenza outbreak management. 

Martin Burns, Head of Welfare for New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, will introduce attendees to the newly developed Thoroughbred welfare assessment guidelines. The welfare programme will also celebrate the achievements of those who improve the lives of animals around the world through the Ceva Sante Animale and World Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Awards ceremony. Six awards will be given in total.

Animal welfare is arguably one of the fastest-developing areas of animal and veterinary science. The WVAC animal welfare programme reflects that rapid advancement and offers insights across species, across disciplines and across the globe.

Find out more about the congress and register at

Article adapted from VetScript (October 2019). 

Original article by Mirjam Guesgen.


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