11 Jan 2021 | Animal welfare
Consider a charity as part of your workplace culture
22 Dec 2020 | Erika Singh
The season of good will is a good time to think about how helping charitable causes could be part of your workplace’s culture. This blog shines a light on the fantastic work of BVA’s charity, the Animal Welfare Foundation, and how you and your colleagues can help.
The Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) was set up from a legacy left to BVA which stipulated the gift be used for the improvement of animal welfare. As a charity born into the veterinary profession, AWF recognises the important role vets play in upholding animal welfare. We aim to support the veterinary and animal welfare communities by giving them the evidence-based knowledge they need to advance animal welfare, and we do this through the three pillars of research, education and debate. This blog provides a window into our work
Science underpins AWF’s work, and our large body of research has transformed the understanding of welfare issues such as lameness in large animals, as well as providing insights into other species such as birds, cats and poultry.
Recognising the key role of the veterinary professional in championing animal welfare and the fact that this requires skills not always taught at vet school, we funded a project assessing how effective the technique of Motivational Interviewing would be in the veterinary sphere. This project, ‘Improving dairy cattle welfare: promoting uptake of veterinary advice’, has shown that training veterinary professionals in this technique can bring positive results and empower them to more effectively support their clients to make changes that improve animal welfare.
We also run a student grant scheme which encourages students to carry out research in the field of animal welfare. We hope to inspire and support these students to become the researchers of the future! Last year Abigail Liston carried out her project, ‘Welfare study using the AWAG to Measure Quality of Life of Breeding macaques’ and had this to say about the experience: “The skills I developed in order to plan, execute and collate the data I needed for this project was beyond the scope of my university curriculum. I now feel I have gained vital skills that will help shape my future career”.
AWF has a long history of supporting veterinary education, having funded lectureships which helped to embed welfare firmly into the veterinary curriculum. Nowadays, we support veterinary students to become effective animal welfare advocates by hosting interactive talks at veterinary schools. Designed to give students an understanding of the welfare issues they are likely to face in their work, the talks also give them the confidence to speak out about their opinions.
As well as our useful leaflets with animal welfare advice for owners, we collaborated with the RSPCA to create The Puppy Contract. This was a response to the growing issue of puppy farming and the breeding of dogs with conformational defects. The website offers lots of useful guidance to those starting out on the journey of finding a pet dog plus a free downloadable contract, written by vets and endorsed by a large number of welfare organisations. Find out about how The Puppy Contract helped puppy buyer Hannah to find a whippet from a good home.
Every veterinary professional dedicates their career to ensuring the health and welfare of animals committed to their care, but what does this mean for the modern vet? Vets are increasingly being expected to use their position as trusted, respected professionals to guide the behaviour of clients and speak out on animal welfare.
The AWF Discussion Forum fuels the discussion of issues such as overtreatment, giving delegates the chance to learn from experts and deepen their understanding of the topics through the discussions that follow. Delegates leave inspired and energised, with more confidence to discuss these issues with their clients and colleagues. A delegate from the 2019 Forum said that “it had me reflecting on what a renewed sense of purpose and belief I had in why we do what we do”.
Next year’s Discussion Forum will take place on Wednesday 15th September, 2021 and is on the theme of Protecting animal welfare in a changing world.
We are proud of the work we do, but we can’t do it without you. Our work is funded entirely by donations and legacy gifts from our kind supporters.
As BVA’s policy position on good veterinary workplaces points out, considering social responsibility as part of your organisation’s culture can bring business benefits, and help employees to feel positive about their work. Fundraisers can be a great way to join together - both virtually or in person - to support a good cause and have fun.
So, in this season of good will, why not have a think about what you and your colleagues could do to fundraise for our charity? Whether you’re passionate about charity coffee mornings or more of an obstacle course junkie, we have ideas for everyone in our range of fundraising event ideas on our website. Whatever you would like to do, our team is on hand to support you, so please do get in touch.
Merry Christmas to you all!
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