World Veterinary Day

BVA Logo

Global responsibilities for animal welfare: BVA President calls on the veterinary community to sign up to UDAW

BVA President Nick BlayneyWorld Veterinary Day (WVD) is held annually on the last Saturday of April and this week (Saturday 26 April) around the world, from Sudan to Taiwan and Nepal to Canada, veterinarians will be celebrating the profession’s diversity and its contributions to human and animal health and welfare.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is using WVD to showcase the global role of the veterinary profession in raising standards of animal welfare by signing up to the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW).  Demonstrating its commitment to animal welfare, the BVA has formally supported the UDAW. The Declaration, which represents the world’s first international agreement on animal welfare, recognises that sentient animals are capable of pain and suffering, deserving consideration and respect, and calls for effective animal welfare legislation to be developed and enforced around the world. It is hoped that the Declaration will ultimately be adopted by the United Nations.

BVA President Nick Blayney said: “I am delighted that BVA is supporting this vital campaign to recognise the responsibilities that humans have towards the welfare of sentient animals.  I wholeheartedly endorse the inclusion within the Declaration of the ‘Five Freedoms’ as the guiding principles of animal welfare.

“I strongly believe that the veterinary profession should be part of this important global initiative, and hope that other veterinary associations around the world will sign up to this campaign.  I also fully support the proposal to take the campaign to the United Nations, and hope that the Declaration will represent a huge step forward in gaining international recognition that animal welfare matters.”

Justine Smith, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) spokesperson for the campaign, said: “WSPA is delighted to have BVA backing for the campaign – this will go far in terms of building recognition for the UDAW from overseas governments, as well as in the UK. Vets have a vital role to play in promoting animal welfare.”

The BVA Overseas Group, which provides an essential link between BVA and veterinary organisations and individuals - and animal welfare charities - across the developing world, firmly opines that the profession should play a key role in defining the future of animal welfare on a global level by supporting the progress of UDAW.  Speaking on behalf of the Group, its welfare representative Sean Wensley said:  “Animal welfare is gaining ever-increasing importance across the world, and is increasingly being used as a measure of the social progress of nations. Over a billion people around the world rely directly on animals for their livelihoods, as well as for companionship, and good animal welfare frequently benefits human welfare.

“The veterinary profession is pivotal in maintaining and restoring the strong bond that exists between humans and animals across the world. Wherever animals are influenced by humans, whether on farms, in research institutions, in zoos or in people’s homes, members of the profession are present to ensure that animals remain healthy and happy and that provision for their good welfare remains paramount. Veterinarians are also key contributors to ethical review processes, speaking with authority and pragmatism as the animals’ advocate.”

Notes for Editors

1.  World Veterinary Day was founded by the World Veterinary Association (WVA) in 2001 to highlight the work of the veterinary profession around the world in food safety/public health, border controls and quarantine, clinical practice, animal health, animal welfare, environmental protection, research and development and wildlife conservation.

2.  The WVA is a worldwide non-profit organisation originally established in 1863 that works in the best, long-term interest of veterinarians, clients, co-operative partners such as the FAO, WHO and IOE, and the world society. It is committed to unifying the veterinary profession worldwide and has members in about 100 countries.

3.  The Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) is an agreement among people and nations to recognise that animals are sentient and can suffer, to respect their welfare and to end animal cruelty – for good.  For further information see the WSPA website or contact Katharine Mansell in the WSPA UK press office on

4.  Information on the BVA Overseas Group and its work

5.  For further information or for high resolution versions of the photographs below (or for other photographs) please ring the BVA press office on 020 7636 6541 or email