UFAW Companion Animal Welfare Award

Past Winners:

PDSA pet selection website wins 2010 Companion Animal Welfare Award

past winnersLeading veterinary charity, PDSA, was awarded the 2010 UFAW Companion Animal Welfare Award for its online pet selection tool: Your Right Pet.

Launched online in 2009 Your Right Pet was designed to help prospective pet owners find the pet best suited to their circumstances. By matching owners and pets it aims to ensure that people taking on pets understand their welfare needs and how to meet them.

Sean Wensley, Senior Veterinary Surgeon at PDSA, said: “We are delighted that Your Right Pet has been recognised for educating owners and improving the welfare of pets. It is designed to prevent health and welfare problems by recommending the best pet choice for prospective owners based on their lifestyle.”

The commitment to informing prospective owners is what caught the eye of the UFAW judges . James Kirkwood, then UFAW Chief Executive and Scientific Director, said: “UFAW congratulates the PDSA on the development of this website tool. It provides information about the welfare needs of various commonly-kept species, helps prospective pet owners to think through the resources and time needed, and is aimed at preventing welfare problems that can arise through inappropriate pet choice.”

vet treating catSean Wensley added: “The Animal Welfare Act 2006 introduced a duty of care, which legally requires owners to meet their pets’ welfare needs. These cover important matters such as having a suitable diet, a suitable home, being able to lead a normal life and to be protected from illness and injury. Meeting these needs is the best way to ensure our pets enjoy a good quality of life.”

Your Right Pet is divided into two stages: Stage one features a cartoon pet that ‘morphs’ as users answer four simple questions around the acronym PETS

Place:      which type of pet is appropriate for where you live?
Exercise: can you provide the type and amount of daily exercise required?
Time:       can you devote enough time to your pet?
Spend:     can you afford the lifetime expense of your preferred pet?

Answering these questions generates a list of pets that are most likely to be suited to the user’s lifestyle and circumstances. Stage two then provides more detail on each of those pets, such as expected lifespan, likely lifetime costs and how their five welfare needs can be met.

Three Companion Animal Welfare Awards in 2009

past winnersThree winners received the Award in 2009: Oliver Forman of the Animal Health Trust (AHT), UK for ‘The development of a genetic test for spinocerebellar ataxia in the Italian Spinone; Dr Paul McGreevy of the University of Sydney, Australia for the ‘Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals (OMIA) and the Listing of Inherited Disorders in Animals (LIDA); and the University of Glasgow Pain and Welfare Research Group for their development of ‘Instruments to measure canine pain and health-related quality of life’.

past winnersSpinocerebellar ataxia is a distressing neurological disease in the Italian Spinone dog and Mr Forman’s work at the AHT made significant progress in identifying the genetic mutation responsible. Identification will enable the development of a genetic DNA test that will be 100% accurate in determining carrier animals. Through appropriate breeding practices such a test will enable the goal of completely eliminating the mutation. Mr Forman’s £1000 award will help further research into genetic diseases in dogs.

past winnersDr Paul McGreevy and his team at the University of Sydney developed an on-line scientific and epidemiological information resource relating to inherited diseases in dogs in order to inform prospective pet purchasers and to provide an effective basis for improved breeding programmes and breed standards. Further work within the project is aimed at providing a means for collecting (through links with veterinary practices), analysing and presenting real-time genetic epidemiological data on the incidence and prevalence of inherited disorders in various companion animal species.

The University of Glasgow Pain and Welfare Research Group had been working for a number of years on the development of a practical system that can easily be used by veterinarians to accurately assess acute post-operative pain in dogs as an effective basis for its treatment. The system has been successfully validated in practice and is now being extended to include chronic pain, for example arthritis, and health-related quality of life in dogs.

“We chose three winners for the 2009 Awards for the high quality of their work and because their projects will be of great benefit to very large numbers of companion animals, not only in this country but around the world,” said James Kirkwood, then Chief Executive and Scientific Director of UFAW.

The three Awards were presented by Dr John Bradshaw, Reader in Companion Animal Welfare and Waltham Director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol, at a reception at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery on 22nd June during UFAW’s 2009 International Symposium ‘Darwinian selection, selective breeding and the welfare of animals’ held at the University of Bristol.