Report on Companion Animal Welfare Science Workshop

AWRN implementing new methods to improve companion animal welfare science (CAWS) in the UK workshop

Workshop organisers Rowena Packer and Lucy Asher welcomed everyone to the workshop on 16th December 2019. There were 60 delegates in attendance from a variety of universities, charities and industry, and it was a successful day.

In the first session of the day, methods of collecting CAWS data at an individual level were discussed in a session chaired by Lucy Asher (University of Newcastle). There were talks from Lucy Asher on automated methods of behaviour measurement, Lauren Finka (Nottingham Trent University) on facial expression analysis and Daniel Mills (University of Lincoln) on the development of psychometric tools. After a tea break, the workshop continued with talks from Oliver Burman (University of Lincoln) on novel cognitive measures and CAWS, Rowena Packer (Royal Veterinary College) on measures of brain function and structure, and finally, Luke Williams (BBSRC) on funding opportunities for CAWS from BBSRC.
The second session after lunch was chaired by Rowena Packer and involved four talks on epidemiological methods for collecting CAWS data. Dan O’Neill (RVC) talked about using veterinary practice data to understand companion animal welfare issues, and Jane Murray (Dogs Trust) spoke to us about longitudinal cohort studies. Then Alan Radford (University of Liverpool) gave a talk on using veterinary practice data to identify risks to companion animal welfare, and Carri Westgarth (University of Liverpool) spoke on epidemiological methods for studying human animal interactions.

The second half of the day involved two breakout workshop groups, and delegates could choose to attend either an early career researcher (ECR) group discussing grant opportunities for ECRs, perceived barriers to funding, and mentorship needs with Fiona Dale and Sarah Hobbs; or a PI and industry/charity group with Rowena Packer and Lucy Asher, discussing how CAWS funding success can be improved, barriers and opportunities for collaborations between academia, industry and charities.

Delegates were also asked to write down what they should think the next big question in CAWS should be.

At the end of the day, feedback from both workshops was given to all delegates, and the day was brought to a close by Rowena and Lucy, and drinks were held onsite at RVC’s bar.

Despite some technical issues, talks from the day were recorded and have now been uploaded to the AWRN website, once you are logged in you can find them under Meeting Presentations.