Science Serving Animal Welfare: Part 1


Dr. David Fraser, Professor, Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia (UBC)
Dr. Sara Dubois, Chief Scientific Officer, British Columbia SPCA (BC SPCA)
Dr. Lee Niel, Assistant Professor, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph
Dr. Jeffrey Spooner, AGralytics / University of British Columbia (UBC)


To mark the 20th anniversary of the UBC Animal Welfare Program, PhD graduates of the Program will describe their work and the interesting directions their careers have taken. Research – on companion animals, farm animals, lab animals and wildlife – plays critical roles in advancing animal welfare: improving housing and handling of animals, preventing illness, developing educational tools, supporting new standards and much more. The Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia began in 1997 with major funding from the BC SPCA. In this, the first of two sessions, Dr. Lee Niel (Ontario Veterinary College) will speak about her research on improved management and fear reduction in dogs and cats; Dr. Jeff Spooner (consultant, Ottawa) will describe his work to help animal users develop and support consensus-based standards for farm animal care; and Dr. Sara Dubois (BC SPCA) will describe a ground-breaking project to promote ethical management of wildlife in cases of human-wildlife conflict. Professor David Fraser will also give a short overview of the many ways that the work of the Animal Welfare Program has advanced the treatment of animals around the world.


  1. "Animal welfare science" is an emerging field that informs and underlies policies and practices that improve the lives of animals.
  2. Graduates in animal welfare science are promoting animal welfare through a wide range of careers.
  3. The concept of "One Welfare" recognizes the many connections between animal welfare, human welfare and the integrity of the environment.

Read about Science Serving Animal Welfare, Part 2 here.


Dr. David Fraser is a Professor in the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia. The topics of his long research career have ranged from better management of farm animals to ways to reduce highway accidents involving moose. He has served as professor and mentor to many people who now have leadership roles in the animal protection movement and animal-related professions. His publications include the book Understanding Animal Welfare: The Science in its Cultural Context. He was appointed Member of the Order of Canada in 2005 for his work as "a pioneer in the field of animal welfare science".

Dr. Sara Dubois is the BC SPCA’s Chief Scientific Officer, where she directs province-wide welfare science operations, education and advocacy projects. She works on: wildlife rehabilitation, oil spill response, captive wildlife and exotic pets, human-wildlife conflicts and compassionate conservation, and consults on wildlife cruelty investigations. Sara is a registered professional biologist with a BSc IN Biology (UVic) and an MSc and PhD from the UBC Animal Welfare Program, whose main area of expertise is in wildlife welfare and human dimensions. She is an Adjunct Professor with the UBC Applied Biology Program and Advisor to the Whale Sanctuary Project.

Dr. Lee Niel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Population Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, and holds the Col K. L. Campbell Chair in Companion Animal Welfare. Dr. Niel plays a key role in teaching veterinary students about animal behaviour and welfare, and her research group is focused on developing novel methods for assessing and improving companion animal welfare. Specifically, Dr. Niel is interested in understanding and preventing fear and aggression in cats and dogs, with research assessing fundamental and applied topics, such as optimizing early socialization and management for puppies and kittens, improving identification of animal fear and aggression by industry professionals and owners and improving cat and dog welfare during routine handling and restraint.

Dr. Jeffrey Spooner is an animal scientist who conducts social science research in the field of animal health and welfare. He is also a consultant who facilitates multi-stakeholder agreements involving animal care and handling practices. He supports NFACC, CFIA and the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council. He also helps individual industries meet increasing demands for more comprehensive approaches to animal health and well-being.