SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Meghann Cant BSc (Agroecology) MSc (Animal Welfare), Animal Welfare Educator, British Columbia SPCA (BC SPCA)
For many of us, the very thought of eating rabbits is disturbing, yet there is a burgeoning meat rabbit industry here in Canada. The industry, mainly concentrated in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, has no national representative body and, until this year, no national welfare standards.
On February 15, 2018, Canada’s first Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Rabbits was released. Just what does this Code mean for rabbits? This presentation will give you a brief overview of where the industry is at right now and take you through the key welfare outcomes negotiated at the table. There were some solid wins but, if you are at all familiar with rabbits, there were also some compromises that could not be overcome in this first go-round. Meghann Cant will walk you through the dynamics of negotiating the Code and arm you with examples of how rabbit welfare will be improved from current practice.
- Brief overview of the rabbit industry in Canada.
- Summary of the major requirements and recommended practices in the Rabbit Code.
- Highlights of what changed in the Rabbit Code after the public comment period.
Meghann Cant has worked for the BC SPCA as an animal welfare educator since 2009. She produces educational materials for adults and youth, including Bark!, the BC SPCA’s magazine for kids. Meghann has a Bachelor of Science in Agroecology (2003) and a Masters of Science in Animal Welfare (2013), both from the University of British Columbia. Over the years, she has volunteered with animals in a variety of settings, from veterinary medicine to wildlife rehabilitation to senior animal rescue. Her keenest interests are small mammal behaviour, health and welfare.
SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Amy Morris MPP, Manager, Public Policy and Outreach, British Columbia (BC SPCA)
This session will take participants through old issues and troubling trends in the connections between science, public policies and enforcement strategies in agriculture and farm animal welfare. Identified issues include: science funding, lack of enforcement, limited communication methods, the impact of employment policies and wages, product differentiation and conflicts between social movements competing for resources.
Funding for science often comes from a specific industry researching a specific problem. Having science driven by industry can be meaningful, but it can also limit big picture thinking in animal welfare research. Who are the players involved and what can be done differently to see better outcomes for animals?
Government legislation is often written with the ideal enforcement scenario in mind, but enforcement is rarely tied to the legislation itself, resulting in low enforcement and low compliance. What can be changed to address enforcement issues?
Communication includes industry mail-outs, local newspapers, and government updates, with in person sessions that have low attendance. Farmers have little time available. How can this communication gap be addressed?
Participants will work in groups to discuss these issues and trends and identify working solutions.
- Learn about the most prevalent systemic issues around Canadian animal farming.
- An appreciation for the nuances of developing policy.
- An understanding of how to create a pathway forward to address farm animal welfare issues.
Amy Morris is the Manager of Public Policy and Outreach at the BC SPCA and a graduate of the Master of Public Policy program at Simon Fraser University. She is passionate about the cycle that turns welfare science into practice, improving the lives of animals of all species. She has worked on farms with cattle, goats, sheep and chickens, volunteered to rehabilitate hoarder and puppy mill pets, and now spends her free time testing the intelligence of her collie mix, Clover.
SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Dr. Bettina Bobsien DVM, Veterinarian, Private Practice
Horses are long-lived animals and are frequently sold or re-homed many times during their lives. The average lifespan of horses has increased dramatically in the past 25 years due to advancements in nutrition, dental care and management of geriatric diseases. Societal attitudes around euthanasia and slaughter of horses past their working lives have also changed, as many people find this option unacceptable. As a result, many horses now may have very long retirements and frequently outlive their owners’ willingness and ability to care for them. Horse rescue agencies frequently take on these animals, but without assured long-term funding and a care plan, there can be poor welfare outcomes for older animals. Animal welfare agencies need to be educated and prepared for the demographic bulge of aging horses and their aging owners, who may not be able to take care of them until the end of their natural lives. The care needs of geriatric horses including housing, feeding and medication will be discussed, as well as end-of-life options.
- The lengthening lifespan of horses in North America and the implications for animal welfare agencies.
- The financial and care needs associated with caring for older horses.
- End-of-life options for horses without willing caregivers.
Dr. Bettina Bobsien is a veterinarian with over 25 years’ experience in clinical practice. She is an Equine Diplomate with the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, has a Bachelor's degree in Agriculture (Animal Science) and is a Canadian Veterinary Reserve member. Bettina was member and chair of the College of Veterinarians Animal Welfare Committee for the past 6 years. Since 2010, she has worked closely with the BC SPCA.
SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Cordelie DuBois, PhD Candidate, University of Guelph
In a Delphi survey of equine professionals, ignorance was identified as a prominent threat to equine welfare in the Canadian industry. Increased owner education and awareness are considered to be benefits of on-farm assessments, familiarizing owners with standards of care, as well as highlighting areas of potential concern.
As part of a larger project, an on-farm welfare assessment tool was designed and tested on farms in Southern Ontario (n=27). Pre- and post-assessment interviews of participating farm owners were also conducted. This additional qualitative data was used to determine owner familiarity with Canadian standards (in the form of the National Farm Animal Care Council’s (NFACC) Codes of Practice for equines), awareness of welfare risks on their own farms, and their perception of the usefulness of an on-farm assessment in the Canadian industry. Only 50 per cent of owners reported being familiar with NFACC’s Code of Practice, which likely helps to account for the discrepancies found between owner self-report and the on-farm assessment results, particularly with respect to structural elements (e.g. stall sizes).
Farm owners indicated that they felt an on-farm assessment would be very useful to newcomers in the industry and in an accreditation program to provide credibility to equine businesses. In order combat ignorance and improve equine welfare, it is critical to understand not only what owners know but also how well educational opportunities like on-farm assessments are received. As such, opening dialogue between owners and researchers is a necessity in order to find successful methods of continued learning.
- Ignorance is perceived as one of the biggest threats to equine welfare in the Canadian industry.
- Parameters included in an on-farm welfare assessment.
- The potential benefits of an on-farm welfare assessment.
Cordelie DuBois is a PhD candidate at the University of Guelph, currently working on a project that focuses on gaining insight into the perception of welfare issues in the Canadian equine industry, as well as designing an assessment tool based on the recently revised National Farm Animal Care Council's Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines and the most up-to-date scientific literature.
SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Dr. Jeffrey Spooner, AGralytics / University of British Columbia (UBC)
Jackie Wepruk, General Manager, National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC)
Every Code of Practice for farm animals developed through the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) Code process undergoes a public comment period before being finalized. However, once someone submits their comments – what happens? What assurances are there that any individual’s submission was heard? What is the point of having a public comment period if the final Code looks pretty much the same as the version that went out for public comment? Is farm animal welfare really improving as a result?
This presentation will pull back the curtain on the Code public comment period to answer these questions and more. The purpose and function of the public comment period will be explained, along with the results of a qualitative study that examined the integrity of the process. The study looked at the management of public input, procedural standards and practices, impartiality, procedural challenges and potential improvements to the process.
- Functionality of the Code of Practice public comment periods.
- How public feedback is tangibly addressed and incorporated into the Code process.
- Prospective enhancements to the public comment period process.
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.
Jackie Wepruk has been the General Manager of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) since its inception in 2005. Jackie facilitates a partnership on NFACC between governments, farmed animal industries, the veterinary community, the humane movement and other allied groups. She assists NFACC’s partners in achieving practical solutions to farm animal welfare concerns that address the interests of farmers, domestic and export markets, governments and the Canadian public. Jackie has her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Winnipeg and a Master of Environmental Design from the University of Calgary.