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It started when two canine scientists decide to become pen pals in an era of digital media...

Monday, 21 January 2013

When coping is not enough


Hi Julie,

Snapshot from Project: Play with your Dog's 'Wall of Contributors'
I’m so pleased to hear that Project: Play with Your Dog is going well. I’ve enjoyed watching the wall of contributors grow and it’s awesome that The Bark featured the research project – but then, why wouldn't they? It’s a fantastic project!

As you mentioned, I’ve been keeping busy getting organised for my presentation at next month’s RSPCA Australia Scientific Seminar. This event is held annually and brings together a wide range of speakers to share the latest knowledge relating to animal welfare research and practices with other academics, industry representatives and anyone else who is interested in coming along to listen. 

The day features a range of talks based around one central theme. These themes (such as ‘How much space does an elephant need? The impact of confinement on animal welfare’) are notoriously designed to cover a range of opinions and promote debate. I've certainly witnessed many spirited discussions between speakers and audience members in previous years.

This year’s theme is:

When coping is not enough - Promoting positive welfare states in animals’.
(source)
I’m excited about the day and looking forward to hearing the keynote presentation by Dr James Yeates from RSPCA UK. Yeates has published discussion papers in the scientific literature surrounding the recent introduction of the term ‘a life worth living’ in reports arising from farm animal welfare discussions and policy. 

Dr James Yeates (source)

As we’ve talked about previously, animal welfare can be tricky to measure and defining what makes for ‘good’ animal welfare, or a life worth living, in quantitative terms that can be applied in real-world policy and industry applications, is no easy task for scientists.


It will be great to listen to James speak about this area that really applies to how we consider all animals. He’s also making a couple of stops around Australia’s East coast to give a free public lecture titled How happy does an animal have to be (and how can we tell)? to others who are interested and unable to make it to Canberra.

The other person to speak to the day’s theme is Professor David Mellor who is based in New Zealand. I have always enjoyed listening to him speak at previous conferences.

I will tell you more about Mellor's research and what I’ll be speaking about at the Scientific Seminar next time. 

For now, I hope you’ll forgive me, but I have to go and play with my dogs,
FOR SCIENCE!

Mia

p.s. Tell Josh I said G'day!

Further reading:

Yeates J. (2011). Is 'a life worth living' a concept worth having?, Animal Welfare, 20 (3) 397-406. Link: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ufaw/aw/2011/00000020/00000003/art00009

Yeates J. (2012). Quality Time: Temporal and Other Aspects of Ethical Principles Based on a “Life Worth Living”, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 25 (4) 607-624. DOI:

© Mia Cobb 2012