Health, Genetics, and Behavior Featured at Annual Canine Welfare Science Forum

Friday, June 14, 2019

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Dr. Ha presents in front of forum attendees seated in front of him
Dr. James Ha, University of Washington emeritus professor, gives a presentation during the Canine Welfare Science Forum entitled “Will Rehoming Go Well? What Does Current Science Imply for Breeders and Shelters?”

The 2019 Canine Welfare Science Forum held in Stewart Center at Purdue University on Saturday, June 8, attracted over 150 attendees from across the United States.  Registrants came from 13 states, including Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.  The annual program addresses canine welfare topics of relevance to dog breeders, shelters, kennel managers and caretakers, scientists, regulators, students, and pet industry personnel.  This year’s forum included presentations from industry experts who focused on directly applicable information related to health, genetics, and behavior. 

Dr. Bret Marsh, Indiana State Veterinarian with the Indiana Board of Animal Health, talked about canine health priorities and what can be done by the industry to be more effective and proactive.  Dr. Kari Ekenstedt, assistant professor of anatomy and genetics in Purdue Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Basic Medical Sciences, discussed canine genetics from a health and welfare standpoint.  She shared important scientific information about genetic testing as it relates to selection criteria and challenged participants to utilize these tools in their breeding decisions.

Dr. James Ha, emeritus research professor at the University of Washington, talked about the current scientific implications for breeders and shelters related to rehoming.  His presentation generated a unique dialogue about animal behavior and the role that both breeders and shelters play in successful rehoming of dogs.

Additionally Dr. Candace Croney, director of Purdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science, who holds a joint appointment as professor of animal behavior and well-being in the Department of Comparative Pathobiology and professor of animal sciences in the College of Agriculture, and a private consultant she works with, Traci Shreyer, led sessions about behavior, specifically socialization and reducing stress in kennels.  Following their presentations, participants joined together in break-out groups to discuss and share their concerns as well as success stories related to socialization and mitigating kennel stress.  The attendees also were encouraged to talk about how they will apply what they have learned, and how they can prioritize animal health and well-being in their operations.

During lunch, participants were able to view several posters about canine welfare research projects.

At the conclusion of the forum, Dr. Croney explained the importance of and need for effective communication on canine welfare, and encouraged participants to continue an open dialogue on the subject.  Dr. Croney noted that canine welfare conversations start with breeders who do and say the right things and are able to maintain transparency in their operations.  She “double dog” dared them to implement science-based canine welfare practices and monitor for signs of improvement in order to continuously provide the best care for their dogs.

Special thanks to the following Canine Welfare Science Forum sponsors:  the American Kennel Club, Indiana Council for Animal Welfare, Inc., and the Illinois Husbandry and Animal Welfare Association. 

Writer(s): Andrea Brown |

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