AVS and IVSA Elections 2018

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AVS and IVSA Elections 2018

AVS and IVSA Elections 2018 OPEN

AVS Elections 2018 are now open and we are accepting manifestos for the following positions:

AVS Roles

  • Secretary (2 years)
  • Treasurer (2 years)
  • Grants and Sponsorship Officer (1 year)
  • JAVS Editor (2 years)
  • Website Editor (2 years)
  • Junior Vice President (must have already been on the AVS Committee)

IVSA Roles

  • Exchange Officer (1 year)
  • Promotions Officer (1 year)
  • Veterinary Public Health Officer (1 year)

For more information on the roles, please see the descriptions below: 
- AVS Role Descriptions
- IVSA Role Descriptions

The current committee have written a few paragraphs each on what it's really like being on the committee - it can be accessed here. 

Being on the AVS committee is a great experience and gives you a chance to make an impact representing veterinary students on a national level.

Please fill out the application form and send an individual photo of yourself to the Secretary here (avscommittee@gmail.com). The application form can be found here.  
The closing date is 28th January 2018 and voting will open after the Annual General Meeting at Congress. 

Get submitting and good luck!

 

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Vet News - October, November and December 2017

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Vet News - October, November and December 2017

Vet News - October, November and December 2017

We have compiled a short summary of the top Veterinary News Stories from the last three months for you to read. All of the below can be viewed in full on the BVA News Website. 

OCTOBER

Scottish Government Debates Banning Wild Animals in Circuses
(9th October 2017)

MSPs voted unanimously in support of the bill which will make it an offence tfor wild animals to be used in travelling circuses in Scotland. The Bill will now move onto stage 2 and then hopefully onto the full Parliament for final amendments and approval. 

Post-Brexit Cooperation Necessary for Animal Health and Welfare
(20th October 2017)

The BVA have called for a continuation to the unique relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Highlighting the importance of the “all-island” disease control strategy and the importance of movement of people, products and animals across the border. 

Bluetongue-positive Animals Imported to UK
(23rd October 2017)

The Bluetongue virus was detected during routine post-movement tests and has led to movement restrictions and some culling on the affected farms. Bluetongue is spread by infected midges and as the weather becomes more mild, an increase in the virus may be seen. 

Veterinary Medicines Directorate Show Sales of Antibiotic for Food-Producing Animals Drops by 27%.
(27th October 2017)

Senior Vice-President of the BVA, Gudrun Ravetz commented: “It is extremely encouraging to see reductions in antibiotic use, including Critically Important Antibiotics, across all livestock industries for which data was made available this year"

NOVEMBER

The RCVS has called for Homeopathy and Similar Treatments to be seen as Complementary Treatments Rather than Alternative. 
(3rd November 2017)

The RCVS stated that “homeopathy exists without a recognised body of evidence for its use and is not based on sound scientific principles”

UK Government has Announced that all English Slaughterhouses will have CCTV from Spring 2018
(10th November 2017)

This comes after many years of campaigning by the BVA and the VPHA and is being hailed as a breakthrough for animal welfare. It follows a consultation which showed that 99% of respondents supported the introduction of CCTV. 

Are Animals Sentient? A Brexit debate. 
(23rd November 2017)

After a massive outcry earlier in the month when it seemed that the Government voted against animal sentience post Brexit, the Environment Secretary Michael Gove issued a Written Ministerial Statement stating that animals are sentient. However, no news on when this would be enshrined in law was included…

DECEMBER

New Chief Veterinary Officer Announced
(4th December 2017)

Christine Middlemass has been announced as the UK’s next Chief Veterinary Officer. She is taking over from Nigel Gibbens who is stepping down after 10 years in the role. 

Wales Announces New TB Eradication Targets
(13th December 2017)

These targets will mean that hopefully Wales will be TB free between 2036 and 2041. There has already been a significant reduction in incidence across Wales thanks in part to a well-structured and regionalised strategy. 

The Scottish Government has Introduced New Measures to Improve Farmed Fish Health
(19th December 2017)

The measures, which have been welcomed by the BVA and the Fish Veterinary Society, will help improve the health and welfare of Scottish Fish and will consequently ensure that Scottish aquaculture is sustainable. This is an important industry to protect as fish is worth over £650million to the Scottish economy each year. 

The Government has introduced New Puppy Welfare Plans
(22nd December 2017)

The measures include a crack down on breeders and illegal puppy smuggling. Proposals may lead to compulsory licensing for any puppy breeders or sellers and preventing online sales. 

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The Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance - RUMA and VMD Conference 

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The Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance - RUMA and VMD Conference 

The Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance - RUMA and VMD Conference 

By Meg Rawlins, RVC

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We all need to fight resistance.  

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is currently one of the largest threats facing modern society, which could potentially have devastating impacts on both human and animal health. As veterinary students we will play a large role in tackling this complex, global issue in the future; whether this be through ensuring appropriate antibiotic use in first opinion practice, in a policy role or through research.

On the 27th of October 2017 I was lucky to attend a conference by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) in association with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD): ‘Antibiotic resistance- facing up to the AMR Challenge’.

RUMA was established in 1997 with the aim to produce a coordinated and integrated approach to best practice in animal medicine use and promote high standards of food safety, animal health and animal welfare in British Livestock Industry.  

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One Health Approach

What struck me most about the conference initially was the variety of backgrounds of the delegates; including directors of farmers unions, people from major retailers, veterinarians and human health professionals. Not only was it was inspiring to observe such a diverse range of people coming together to address AMR, it also called attention to the interdisciplinary, one health approach needed to combat this incredibly significant issue.

One health was a major theme throughout the day. Lord Gardiner (Parliamentary undersecretary of state for rural affairs and biosecurity), kicked the conference off to a great start by emphasising the need for one health action. He discussed the links between animal and human health and AMR, and how we need to tackle the concerns of antibiotic use in agriculture from farm to fork.

Professor Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director for Public Health England, further highlighted the collaboration between the medical and veterinary professions.  The phrase ‘gateway to antibiotics’ was used to describe veterinarians, and this term can be applied across the board to other medical professionals; stressing that we all have a role to play with reducing the use of AMR.

The afternoon session consisted of members of the RUMA taskforce discussing the work which they have done. The group consisted of expert veterinarians and farmers who worked to produce guidelines and set goals to reduce antimicrobial usage across the different sectors. These guidelines have since been released and are available to read. What fascinated me most about this part of the conference was how RUMA emphasized the relationship between farmers and veterinarians making it a two way conversation. Opening communication between the two groups can allow for sensitive issues to be discussed, such as encouraging farmers to change practices. This is perhaps something we, as the next generation of veterinarians, should be exploring further.

Animal welfare and AMR

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Concern has been expressed by some in the farming and veterinary sectors that the reduction in use of antimicrobials will have a negative impact on animal welfare.

Christanne Glossop (CVO of Wales) addressed this point head on; focussing on how veterinarians can work with farmers to produce effective herd health plans and help improve management- this can reduce the use of antimicrobials in livestock whilst actually improving animal welfare. She also suggested how schemes such as the BVD eradication programme can also help maintain the balance of reducing the burden of disease, improving animal welfare and reducing the usage of antimicrobials.

A variety of videos shown throughout the day also presented the successes of various interventions on a herd health level from a welfare point of view which has helped increase production and decrease antimicrobial usage.

Achievements already

In the past two years, the sales of antibiotics for use in livestock has reduced by 27%; this exceeded the government target previously set. Coinciding with the conference was the release of figures from the Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance (VARSS) which showed that sales dropped from 62mg/kg to 45mg/kg whilst sales of the highest priority critical antibiotics also fell. This has been the lowest recorded levels since surveillance began and the pig sector, which uses the highest amount of antimicrobials compared to the other sectors have had great successes with a 34% drop in antimicrobials in general with a 73% decrease in use of critically important antibiotics.

Take-home messages

These are very promising figures, but there are still many steps which must be taken. Through collaboration, education and advocation, RUMA have made significant progress, but they cannot do it alone. There are still major challenges which need to be tackled, such as the barrier between vets and farmers, as well as maintaining high animal welfare standards.

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Nigel Gibbens (CVO of the UK) reminded us to not forget the impact of AMR in companion animal and equine practice, as well as resistance to other drugs such as anthelmintics. Regardless of whether you work with small or large animals, AMR and other disease resistances affect all disciplines within the Veterinary field.

The reality is that despite our efforts, AMR cannot be resolved overnight. Attempts to reach the proposed targets for each sector are still falling short. It is going to require hard work, collaboration and education to achieve this and we as future veterinarians will be at the forefront of this change in use of antimicrobials.

I urge you to go away and read the VARSS report, The RUMA Task Force Report, the O’Neill report and other publications about AMR and consider what can we, both individually and collaboratively, do to mitigate the effects that AMR can have on our society?

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Horse Breeding - When is Enough Enough?

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Horse Breeding - When is Enough Enough?

Horse Breeding - When is Enough Enough?

By Emily Mound, Surrey

As veterinary students we are all aware of the issues surrounding selective breeding - a few years ago the focus was on hip dysplasia, now the health problems associated with brachycephalic dogs is the forefront. However, before Christmas a horse made the news, and not for the right reasons. An Arab colt was for sale; he had been bred to exaggerate the breed ideals of an Arabian horse. The end result was a dished face, large eyes, huge nostrils and a media frenzy.

Picture courtesy of the Telegraph (accessed 4th January 2018)

Picture courtesy of the Telegraph (accessed 4th January 2018)

My first concern is how this affects the welfare and health of the animal. From my knowledge as a second year student, I am aware that horses are obligate nasal breathers. Due to the extreme shape of his skull, it is highly likely that the nasal cavities and passageways of the horse are severely restricted and will cause him difficulty breathing. The horse will be unable to exercise properly and may experience respiratory issues, leading to a reduced quality of life. The five needs described in The Animal Welfare Act 2006, law in the UK but not the USA, state that animals should be protected against pain and suffering. Knowingly and selectively breeding animals that have compromised respiratory systems goes completely against this. 

Another need is the ability for animals to express natural behaviours. Horses are evolved from prey animals and exhibit fight or flight responses. How will this horse exhibit a flight response if he can’t gallop due to breathing issues? And what other stress will he suffer if he is unable to exhibit this response?

More Cartoon than Reality?  Image from Pinterest (Accessed 4th Jan 2018)

More Cartoon than Reality? 
Image from Pinterest (Accessed 4th Jan 2018)

My second concern is a moral one. Disregarding health implications and selectively breeding these animals purely for cosmetic purposes is morally wrong. These are animals rather than objects; they feel pain and express behaviour.

They deserve the right to a natural and pain free existence.This animal is now worth an extraordinary amount of money because he fits the “ideal” for his breed, as set by the breed society. This standard is impractical and needs to change for as long as it exists breeders will strive to achieve it; regardless of health or welfare implications. More must also be done to educate breeders and owners about the respiratory issues behind the “dished face”. I believe that if a person truly loves horses (and I hope that all breeders and owners do) and this person understood what they were doing to their horses by selectively breeding for this characteristic; they would stop. 

 

For more information please see the links below: 

- The Guardian
- Horse and Hound
- The Telegraph

 

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A Poor Girl's Guide to Travelling Abroad

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A Poor Girl's Guide to Travelling Abroad

A Poor Girl's Guide to Travelling Abroad.

By Sophie Arogundade, RVC 

Let me set the scene. It is summer 2017, you have been in vet school for the last four years and as much as you would love sitting through another lecture about radiographic imaging of a horse’s foot you crave adventure. But there’s one small caveat, you are a poor student. No time for student jobs after AHEMS, EMS, and studying.

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During the lecture, you can barely listen to another word when an email notification pops up on your phone; ‘SU SAVMA is offering up to £1,000 for travel grants!’. Your heart stops and you intake a sharp breath. How could you not apply?
That is exactly how I ended up getting a travel grant to attend the 66th International Veterinary Student Association (IVSA) congress in Malaysia! Encouraged by the current IVSA vice president and secretariat Jordon Egan, I applied to the RVC SAMA’s travel grant and was lucky enough to get the two-week conference paid in full.  During my time there I discovered the great benefits of being part of IVSA.

My knowledge of IVSA was minimal, I knew it was something international and  I knew two of my friends enjoyed running the RVC branch. The true gravity of IVSA was lost on me, but Malaysia changed that. I had signed up for two weeks to attend the 66th IVSA conference held, for the most part, at Universiti Putra Malaysia but we visited three different parts of the country; Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, and the beach resort Kelantan. The theme of this conference was ‘One Health’. The idea that a collaboration between human and animal medicine could result in an increased depth of knowledge and medical advancements for both parties, explored through a series of lectures and practicals. General assemblies were held to review policies and vote new members into positions within the IVSA. It appears that IVSA is a self-contained unit in which veterinary students around the world all contributed to benefit the veterinary profession.

Landing at Kuala Lumpur airport at 10pm, confused and disorientated after my 17-hour flight from London, I caught an uber to the Soliel hotel and was greeted by IVSA Malaysia team to book me in and get a room ready for the exciting two-week adventure that lay ahead.

The next few days were insane, I met loads of other veterinary students from all over the world. From Europe to South East Asia everyone had a very different idea of what veterinary medicine meant for them. For some is was means of conservation; it was a vet’s duty to protect and raise awareness of endangered species in hope of preserving the animals for the future.
For other is it was one health, the vet’s role was to increase public awareness of zoonotic disease which raged through the country, such as rabies, keeping both human and animal safe with knowledge of clinical signs and vaccination programmes. For a few, it was a day job where they helped the general public take better care of their animals within a clinical setting.

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Never before had I really  considered the true broadness of the veterinary medicine degree and how it affected people from all over the world. IVSA allowed for a collaboration of ideas, personalities and backgrounds all come together in one place and learn from each other to better the profession worldwide.

During the conference, there was a lot of politics that were lost on me, I hadn’t the faintest clue about how the amendments to policies changed anything. The lectures put on by the university lectures were interesting but few and far between. It was the discussions that I found to be one of the most interesting experiences.  When on the subject of deforestation within the palm oil production industry, there was as stark difference between countries that produced palm oil for the economy and those that did not. The Malaysians saw little negative press regarding the palm oil growth and were strongly encouraged to use the product. In western countries it was strongly discouraged, with thought of deforestation and ill health being related to the use of palm oil. Malaysians found it shocking that ‘palm oil free’ products are advertised oversees, especially as a product that is used so widely at home.

IVSA also encouraged making connections with other students. This encourages travel between their members universities, creating opportunities for people to travel the world and experience veterinary medicine from another point of view in a different setting. In the conference room of Kelentan hotel, delegates set up stands to explain the benefits of visiting their university and the facilities offered, giving others an idea of what to expect when visiting. This was perfect for students who wish to travel during their degree and broaden their horizons on veterinary medicine, but do not have the time to do so. For example, travel from years 3 – 5 of a UK veterinary degree is difficult as the 26 weeks of EMS must be completed before taking finals in fifth year.  IVSA conferences and exchanges are a perfect opportunity to travel and meet new people whilst still counting your time as EMS.

As the delegates came from all over the world a ‘cultural night’ is held at every IVSA conference. This is where students are able to share some tradition food and drink from their country with everyone in attendance. It was like going on a mini world trip in one room with everyone showing different methods on how to take a traditional drink or eat a particular food. It was one of the best nights during the conference.

Of course, during the trip there was some exploring done with the other delegates on the conference. We visited the bantu caves and played with the monkeys that lived there, soaked up some local culture, appreciated the beautiful architecture of the many mosques which represented strong influence of the Muslim religion. We also tried some of the local street food as we roamed the streets at Malacca’s night market.

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At the end of my two-week stay I was saddened at the prospect of return to my normal life back in England. With placements at veterinary clinics booked and due to start soon, my adventure was feeling more dreamlike during the final days. I had felt so at home at the conference, making great new friends with students at other veterinary schools across the UK and the world.

On the Friday morning after the goodbye drinks in celebration of our time together as 200 vet students that may never see each other again, I sneaked out of my shared hotel room and sombrely met my friend from RVC as we were both travelling back on the same flight. We loaded our bags in the taxi, reminiscing about the country and the people we were about to leave. It had been a wonderful experience, one that I wish I could repeat. As we went through security and boarded our plane, I stared fondly down at the place that at taught me so much about the meaning of veterinary medicine. The worldwide impact of the profession and the way it was all united by IVSA. Thanks to RVC SAMA I was able have this experience, which truly meant to world to me. As the plane climbed higher into the atmosphere speeding me back to a normal life, I closed my eyes, and fell asleep.

So, for anyone that is interested in worldwide travel, a bunch of great people to hang out with, and some interesting ideas for what to do with your degree contact the IVSA representative of your university. If your IVSA rep isn’t holding as many exchanges or advertising the opportunities as much as you would like, how about giving them a hand?  

AVS Connect Award: If you have been inspired by Sophie's story, you can now apply to the AVS Connect Award which is offering £250 for you to attend international events (perfect for IVSA!). To see more information and to apply please click here!

 

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AVS & BVA Student Travel Grants 2018 - NOW OPEN!

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AVS & BVA Student Travel Grants 2018 - NOW OPEN!

As AVS and BVA student members you are eligible to apply for a travel grant to carry out a research project overseas. There is one AVS award and two BVA awards available: 

AVS

AVS Connect Award

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This will provide financial assistance (£250) for a vet student to attend international meetings or events as a representative of the UK and Ireland veterinary student body.
- More information can be found here
- The application form can be found here
- Deadline is 28th February 2018
Terms and conditions can be found at the bottom of this page. 

BVA

BVA Overseas Travel Grant

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Four awards of £500 to undertake a research project which contributes to development and welfare in a developing country. Previous projects have included: helminths in Sri Lankan Elephants, effective breeding in Peruvian Alpaca Herds and Wildebeest-associated Malignant Catarrhal Fever in Kenya!

Harry Steele-Bodger Memorial Travel Scholarship

Intended to allow a visit to a Veterinary or agricultural school or a research institute. It is open to penultimate and final year veterinary students. 

For more information please see the BVA website - which can be accessed here

 

 

Terms and Conditions of AVS Connect Award 

Terms & Conditions:
1. Eligibility: Applicants must be members of the AVS i.e. currently studying Veterinary Medicine/Science at a university in the UK or Ireland.
2. Submissions can be made at any point in the year but the deadline is 28th February 2018
3. Application review and final decisions will be made within the 4 weeks of submission.
4. Grant payments will be made as soon as possible after the decisions have been made.
5. Successful applicants that receive grants are expected to submit a 500 word report with photo of their experience suitable to be published in JAVS and on our website. 
6. Retrospective applications will not be considered
7. Should the applicant not attend the event/meeting the grant should be returned to AVS in full.

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EMS - Unpaid Internship or Not?

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EMS - Unpaid Internship or Not?

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There is currently a bill going through the House of Lords which is seeking to ban unpaid internships - remind anyone of EMS?? Unfortunately, EMS would not count as an unpaid internship as it is done whilst we are at University and therefore is work experience rather than an internship. 

Introduced by Lord Holmes of Richmond, the bill will mean that after a month of unpaid work the minimum wage will apply, saying: "the practice is clearly discriminatory, crushes creatvity and competitiveness and holds individuals and our country back - it's time we consigned them to the past, to the novels of Dickens".

Last November, the proposals were blocked in the House of Commons by the Government saying that it would "undermine existing employment laws". 

References: 

- BBC News, 2017, Public "backs ban on long unpaid internships"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41717401 (07/11/17)

- BBC News, 2016, Unpaid internships reform plan blocked in Commons
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37874269

- BBC News, 2017, Unpaid internships likened to modern slavery in Lords debate
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41765381

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Vet Futures Ambassador Training Day

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Vet Futures Ambassador Training Day

The Ambassadors!

The Ambassadors!

At the end of October AVS held its first training day for the new Vet Futures Student Ambassadors. Two students from each vet university were chosen to become ambassadors and attend the day which included training on communication, leadership, presentation and emphasised student-led projects. 

The ambassadors each chose themes to focus on which varied from careers, animal welfare and mental health. The Vet Futures project was created in 2014 to predict the issues that will face the vet profession in the next ten years. 

Eleanor Robertson, AVS president, said: "AVS has been excited about the Vet Futures project from day one and we want to play our part in making it a success. As students, our members are the future of this profession and they should therefore be active in shaping it."

A massive thank you to the BVA and RCVS for hosting the event and the Veterinary Schools Council for their support.  

More information can be found here

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Vet News - September 2017

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Vet News - September 2017

Vet News – September 2017

1. Mandatory CCTV in Slaughterhouses in England (and potentially Scotland and Wales)

In August the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove announced that English abattoirs will have to install CCTV in an effort to improve animal welfare. He also announced that official veterinarians will have unrestricted access to the footage. At the beginning of September, the Scottish Government announced that it will begin a consultation on implementing the same measures.

More information can be found: 
- BVA
- BBC

2.       Breeding is Vets’ Greatest Worry

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A BVA survey found that vets’ biggest concern was the poor breeding of puppies. This can not only lead to health and behavioural issues but also welfare ones. The survey also highlighted worries about the breeding of brachycephalic breeds who can suffer severe respiratory issues due to their characteristic flat face.

More information can be found:
- BVA

3.       Two Final Year Students Receive Prestigious BVA Travel Grant

Two final year students, one from Cambridge and one from the Royal Veterinary College, were announced as recipients of an overseas travel grant to support their projects. Dominic Clark’s (RVC) project focuses on the arrowhead dogfish on Limasawa Island in the Philippines focusing on the conservation of the species. Sara Robson (Cambridge) investigated bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis in Ethiopian dairy herds and was also this year’s recipient of the Harry Steele-Bodger Memorial. Congratulations to both!

More information can be found:
- BVA

4.       Tuberculosis Update

Northern Ireland have announced that they will be developing further measures to try and eradicate bovine TB. In England, DEFRA authorised eight new areas of badger control as well as launching an advisory scheme for affected farmers. The scheme will offer farm visits as well as a helpline for farmers. DEFRA hopes that this will help to eradicate and manage TB in England.

More information can be found: 
- Farming Life
- DEFRA

5.       Rise in Animals Killed Without Stunning.

Slaughter without stunning represents a massive welfare issue for thousands of farm animals every year. However, since the 2013 exemption notice for animals that are slaughtered for religious purposes, the number of animals that are being slaughtered without stunning has increased. For sheep and goats, it has increased from 15% to almost 25%. Many vets are campaigning for the re-introduction of a law that guarantees all animals will be stunned before slaughter

More information can be found:
- BVA

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The BVA 2017 Animal Welfare Foundation Discussion Forum

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The BVA 2017 Animal Welfare Foundation Discussion Forum

The BVA 2017 Animal Welfare Foundation Discussion Forum

By Meg Rawlins, RVC

Monday 5th June marked the 4th BVA Animal Welfare Foundation Discussion Forum.  With promise of great debate on some interesting animal welfare topics by world-renowned experts, a House of Commons reception after, discounted student tickets and food- who wouldn’t attend? I jumped at the chance to go.

There were three sessions throughout the day, the first being ‘Is modern life incompatible with pet ownership?’. Discussing how modern lifestyle are potentially conflicting with the 5-animal welfare needs and how we can combat this, focusing on dogs and cats. The main welfare issues facing both species were covered and there were many interesting questions brought up by the audience; including how we could combat public's perceptions of brachycephalic breeds and how this was an issue in not only dogs but cats also, as well as questioning how we could educate the population about current animal welfare issues.

The second session, and my favourite of the day; ‘Are vets failing our horses’ prompted the most conflicting viewpoints.  It covered the topics of when geriatric equine medicine has gone too far, how to approach euthanasia and the controversial issue of whether we are pushing our sport horses too far. People questioned the ethical issues surrounding horse racing, different methods of euthanasia in equids and what can be done to improve the welfare of horses used for sport.

The final session explored the future of animal welfare. The first half was ‘On the Pulse’ and was all about animal establishment licensing. This was something which I admittedly knew very little on, but the discussion was engaging and informative. The speakers spoke about the regulation of licensing for animal establishments, what improvements could be made and the impact of loss of funding for local authorities.  In the next part of the session, projects funded by the Animal Welfare Foundation were presented. The first was research exploring advisory and communication strategies used by cattle veterinarians and discussed something called ‘motivational interviewing’ which I recommend you to research and try and apply! The second research project was all about improving the assessment of lameness in sheep, something which I personally found extremely relevant as it related to my current university module.

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After a short break, we were then invited to attend what had been described as a ‘legendary’ reception in the House of Commons terrace. Whilst saddened that no MPs could be in the building due to the upcoming election, I was excited to meet an array of professionals all with the same common goal; improving animal welfare. The opening speech by Gudrun kicked off the reception to a great start and I had a fun evening of networking whilst consuming the seemingly unlimited amount of drinks and veggie samosas. I was amazed that I was the only student who attended the reception as it was a great opportunity!

I had a fantastic day and learnt a lot and will try to attend next year’s event (if my rotation schedule allows!). I recommend to anyone reading who has an interest in animal welfare to go next year!

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AVS Have a Day Out at the RCVS' Royal College Day 2017

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AVS Have a Day Out at the RCVS' Royal College Day 2017

AVS Have a Day Out at the RCVS' Royal College Day 2017

Some of the AVS Committee with Chris Tufnell

Some of the AVS Committee with Chris Tufnell

On the 7th July 2017 AVS were honoured to be invited to the RCVS' annual Royal College Day at the Royal Institute of British Architects in central London; this is a celebration of the profession and where the future president of the RCVS is elected.

For 2018 this will be Professor Stephen May from the RVC; in his maiden speech Professor May supported about the importance of learning and support for new graduates - two topics close to AVS' heart!

All the committee members who attended had a lovely time in the sun, meeting some amazing people and making sure all vet students were represented at the top level of our profession. AVS would like to thank Chris Tufnell (the incoming RCVS Senior Vice President) for the very kind invitation. 

 

 

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Opinion: Screening Sixth Formers to Curb Suicide Rates Among Vets Just Can’t Be The Answer.

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Opinion: Screening Sixth Formers to Curb Suicide Rates Among Vets Just Can’t Be The Answer.

Opinion: Screening Sixth Formers to Curb Suicide Rates Among Vets Just Can’t Be The Answer.

By Isaac Florence, RVC

Image courtesy of the Black Dog Institute, Australia

Image courtesy of the Black Dog Institute, Australia

Last week I stumbled across a tweet outlining an article from The Express about a plan to introduce mental health screening for prospective veterinary students in the UK to tackle the shockingly high rate of suicide among practising vets. The idea of this made me very angry, very quickly and not being shy to speak my mind I wrote exactly how I felt about this idea on a Facebook post which I didn’t expect to gain nearly as much attention as it did from my own friends let alone people to whom it had been shared.

I don’t claim to be fully informed about, let alone an expert in, veterinary mental health but I was quickly pointed to people who are,. Dr Rosie Allister is a vet and manager of Vetlife Helpline who has spent the last ten years studying mental health in vet students and recent graduates. Although she was cited in the original article and then berated by the Twitterati, she was quick to refute the idea that she supported this plan and said it was a “, misleading headline with potentially harmful consequences. I hope students can hear that the profession does not agree with this.”

Although it’s reassuring to see those directly involved in veterinary mental health are against this awful idea, there are certain conversations that have to be had at this point to totally shut down any possibility of this atrocious idea ever reaching fruition.

 Like many students, I am sometimes apprehensive talking about mental health (raising questions for another day). I feel physically sick when reminded of the friends, family and classmates that have taken their own life, this topic is – to say the least – a challenge to talk about. But now, more than ever, it’s crucial to have these conversations and hope it makes it easier for vets and vet students to speak to people about their own concerns.

Many of us will have dreamed of being a vet since we were about three and continued to dream through school, exams and through our time at studying to be vets. Imagine – for a moment – that you rocked up to your interview and then after being quizzed about dosage calculations, comparative anatomy or biochemistry you will never come across again you are ushered into a room with a psychiatrist (or, more likely, a psychologist) and assessed on your mental stability. You’ve worked harder than most of your friends, received stellar results and been more stressed than ever before in your life, a period of “growing up” more intense than any other in your life, but you’re not allowed to pursue your dream because, on that day, you’re not “mentally sound”.

I don’t believe that your mental health at seventeen or eighteen is definitively reflective of your likelihood to commit suicide as a practicing vet five, six, seven, ten, twenty years down the line. It could certainly has an impact but I think having £100,000 student debt, earning half as much as a doctor, having to kill animals and break people's hearts on a daily basis whilst working long hours in a building full of lethal drugs and firearms probably has a greater impact on a vet’s disposition to commit suicide.

Harriet Mullan, who is a consultant adolescent psychiatrist in London, said screening would unhelpful and “discriminatory”. The legality of such discrimination that is not based on professional or academic grounds is somewhat questionable, it turns out.

Dr Allister is regarded as the expert on this topic within the veterinary world and to advance my argument it would be simplest to link you to her Twitter feed, but the main point is that there is “NO EVIDENCE that pre-screening vets or vet students for mental health, suicide, or personality, will reduce suicide rates” and that screening will be a waste of money better spent on support and will almost certainly drive up the suicide rate as it will reduce people’s perceived ability to speak to people about getting support. She calls for greater support for vets, allowing them to talk about stress and their own mental state as well as trying to tackle the issues that cause vets to undergo such stress in the first place.

Suicide of any kind is devastating. Institutionalised suicide is just mortifying. We, everyone involved with the profession, need to work hard and relentlessly until we can stop any and every work-related suicide in our community. We must strive to make it better, not to do so is simply not good enough.

 Vetlife is a 24 hour, 365 day a year confidential helpline charity that provides support to everyone in the veterinary profession. https://www.vetlife.org.uk 0303 040 2551
 

Students can talk to Student Nightline confidentially, between 18:00 and 08:00 each night of term time on 0207 631 0101 http://nightline.org.uk

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MSD Animal Health & FVE Scholarship 2017

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MSD Animal Health & FVE Scholarship 2017

MSD Animal Health & FVE Scholarship 2017

Due to the success of the 2016 Scholarship grant, MSD Animal Health and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) have extended the number of grants to thirty-six! The MSD and the FVE have released this information:

"(the) aim of the 2017 scholarship program is to enhance the academic experience of 36 veterinary students (2nd and 3rd year) taking into consideration their diversity and financial needs. We encourage qualified students to submit their applications and we wish success to all the candidates!"

The full announcement can be found here

The application can be found here and should be sent to: stagiaire@fve.org
The deadline for submission: 15 September 2017

Please, read carefully the eligibility criteria in the announcement. 
Review and selection process by FVE Review Committee supported by EAEVE and IVSA.  

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The Veterinary Invertebrate Society Summer Meeting

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The Veterinary Invertebrate Society Summer Meeting

The Veterinary Invertebrate Society Summer Meeting

The Veterinary Invertebrate Society is holding it’s summer scientific meeting at St John’s College, Cambridge on Wednesday 12th July this year, and it looks to be a great day! The programme includes presentations on: effective euthanasia of arthropods, the veterinary and legal aspects of butterfly farming, and a review of cases seen in practice among others. It will be a great opportunity to hear about the little taught field of invertebrate medicine in a sociable atmosphere.

Student price is just £25, and includes a lunch consisting of leaf cutter ant breakfast, buffalo worm and cricket falafel and a mealworm and cricket pie for dessert. Cash can be paid on the day, please email Sarah Pellett (sarah_pellett@hotmail.com) by 30th June if you wish to attend or would like more information. 

Details about the conference can be found here

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Student Funding to Increase

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Student Funding to Increase

Student Funding to Increase 

The Student Loans Company has now been able to confirm, with the Department for Education, that veterinary courses can now be considered ‘long course’ degrees in England, thus increasing the loan available to students. The move comes after considerable efforts by the Association of Veterinary Students (AVS), working alongside the Veterinary Schools Council (VSC), to have the expensive and time consuming demands of EMS placements formally recognised. Since EMS is an essential and mandatory part of the veterinary degree, AVS has long lobbied for student maintenance loans to reflect these weeks are working, not as holiday time.

Following discussions between the University of Liverpool and the Student Loans Company, the vet degree there has now been recognised as a ‘long course’ and other vet schools in England are being encouraged to register their degree as a long course and include the average number of weeks of extra-mural studies. The VSC is communicating with the English vet schools and details should be fed down to students soon. The VSC is also in discussions with the relevant bodies in Scotland to extend this action to help students studying at Glasgow and Royal Dick (Edinburgh).

This move comes at a time when the VSC, AVS and the RCVS are examining the EMS requirements, governed by RCVS and currently set at 12 weeks of pre-clinical EMS and 26 weeks of clinical EMS. The profession is continually seeking to ensure high quality, well prepared and motivated graduated enter the profession and EMS plays an important part in this. But issues regarding quality, availability and cost of EMS have been the cause of much debate.

 How much better off per weeks students would be is hard to calculate, a common theme in student finance, but it’s not an insignificant amount and will depend on household income.

For more information please click on the following links: 

- Long Course Loans (Student Finance England Website) 

- Veterinary Schools Council

- More details on EMS requirements and RCVS review

 

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Harry Steele-Bodger Memorial Travel Scholarship

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Harry Steele-Bodger Memorial Travel Scholarship

Established in 1953, to honour the former president of the BVA from 1939 to 1941, this scholarship is intended to assist a  final or a penultimate  year student visit a veterinary or agricultural school, research institute or another course of study.

WHO? Penultimate, final year (4,5,6th years) or newly graduated vets (less than 3 years). 

HOW? Please see:

MORE INFORMATION? Please see the BVA's website or email helenac@bva.co.uk for more information

 

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Brachycephalic Dogs

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Brachycephalic Dogs

Brachycephalic Dogs

Hannah Mason, AVS President 2016-2017

This week it was announced by the Telegraph that the Labrador is likely to be replaced as Britain’s most owned dogs by the French Bulldog. This breed of dog, unheard of in Britain less than ten years ago, has gained popularity through social media following the same trend of other breeds such as pugs. Many celebrities own them, with one “Frenchie’s” Instagram having 20,000+ followers.

French bulldogs and pugs are known as brachycephalic breeds and are characterised by their squashed faces, bulging eyes and numerous skin folds. They suffer from a myriad of health complaints directly related to their breeding and extreme facial conformation. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is caused by the narrowing of the upper respiratory tract, caused by their shortened upper jaw. This means that breathing is difficult. That cute snoring noise that brachycephalic dogs often make – that is them struggling for air. They often cannot run or exercise for long periods of time, suffer from heat stroke easily, and in extreme cases it can lead to collapse and sudden death. BOAS is endemic within French bulldogs – a recent study found that only 10% of those in a litter could breathe normally. It is not uncommon for their gums to be tinged blue, indicating oxygen deprivation.  This is a serious welfare concern and it seems unacceptable that even in its mildest form, it should be considered normal, and even desirable in a dog.

Although, marketed as a "cute" breed, French Bulldogs suffer from abnormalities leading to respiratory distress and eye ulcers

Although, marketed as a "cute" breed, French Bulldogs suffer from abnormalities leading to respiratory distress and eye ulcers

Eye ulcers are common in brachycephalic dogs, as their eyes significantly protrude from the skull – last summer alone I watched four pugs lose eyes after their ulcers simply refused to heal. The abnormally large size of the puppies' heads mean they very rarely able to be born naturally – instead, the mothers often require a caesarean and it's associated surgical risk. Due to the male’s narrow hips, they even find it incredibly difficult to mate naturally, with many breeders resorting to artificial insemination. This resonated with me – we are so determined to breed these animals to look a certain way, we continue even past the point at which nature stops us.

Whilst we have bred dogs to suffer this way, it also means we have the power to reverse the process. Out-crossing these dogs, with longer nosed breeds would increase the diameter of the airways and increase their quality of life dramatically. This solution has been met with horror by several breed societies who are incredibly proud of their dog’s genetics (and are in compliance with the Kennel Clubs breed standards), perhaps to detriment of their dog’s ability to breathe.

The Kennel Club, the veterinary profession and the general public all share a collective responsibility for the health and welfare of our canine population and therefore must all work together. The Kennel Club’s canine health schemes show a move in the right direction, however their recommendation to join one by the French Bulldog Club of England which still allows dogs with mild breathing difficulties to gain a “silver certificate” shows that a more serious commitment is needed. Interestingly, despite a petition which garnered over 40,000 signatures from the veterinary profession to address to the suffering of brachycephalic breeds, the Kennel Club refused to alter breed standards.

The veterinary profession must educate the general public about the dangers of owning such a breed. A culture shift is needed to stop them from being seen as desirable and instead the promotion of healthier, cross-bred dogs. It is not acceptable to continue to breed these anatomical monsters, who will suffer for a life-time merely for our personal enjoyment (or a few likes on Instagram).

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