Capacity Crowd Attends Inaugural CAWS Canine Welfare Science Forum

June 3, 2016

by Kelsey Johnson, PVM Summer Communications Intern

The first Canine Welfare Science Forum hosted by the Purdue Center for Animal Welfare Science (CAWS) drew a capacity crowd to Lynn Hall, where the all day program was held Thursday May 19.  CAWS is jointly funded by the Purdue University Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture, and organized the forum to address the care, welfare and society issues associated with dog breeding.  The sold-out program attracted more than 200 registered attendees from 23 states. Through workshops focusing on the practical application of scientific concepts and research results, attendees were exposed to a number of ways in which to improve canine welfare in various settings.

The forum began with comments from CAWS Director Candice Croney, who is associate professor of animal behavior and well-being in the departments of Comparative Pathobiology and Animal Sciences.  Dr. Croney gave an introduction to the assessment of animal welfare, focusing on dog care and welfare standards. Dr. Croney used photos and videos to show the audience differences between various stress behaviors of dogs and the typical behaviors of unstressed dogs. She also discussed measures of natural and preferred living, saying that conditions such as access to the outdoors, exercise, and a clean and dry living area are both natural and preferred for canines.

The line-up of speakers also included Purdue Veterinary Medicine Professor Emeritus of Animal Behavior Andrew Luescher, who returned to Lynn Hall to lead a talk about getting dogs off to a good start and the importance of behavioral well-being. Dr. Luescher stressed the importance of a dog’s early environment on its development. He said that a predictable and controlled environment is crucial for a dog to develop in a healthy way, avoiding learned helplessness and aggressive behaviors. Dr. Luescher pointed out that does not mean puppies should be completely unexposed to stress; on the contrary, he said that some stress is healthy. “Mild and acute stress early on is good for the puppy, if applied the first few days after birth and followed by low stress. This leads to stronger and faster reactions to stressors later in life,” Dr. Luescher said. He also shared details about canine early development phases, saying that understanding serves as a helpful aid when raising puppies. Dr. Luescher concluded his lecture by stressing the importance of preparing puppies for transition to new owners and following up with buyers after the move.

The program also featured Patti Strand, cofounder of the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA), and Dr. Alan Beck, the director of Purdue Veterinary Medicine’s Center for the Human-Animal Bond. Dr. Beck, who is the Dorothy N. McAllister Professor of Animal Ecology in the Department of Comparative Pathobiology, also joined Dr. Strand on a panel discussing, “Dog importation and overpopulation– are there really problems and what are the welfare implications?” Additionally, Dr. Bret Marsh (PU DVM ’84), the Indiana State Veterinarian, spoke on the topic “Commercial dog breeding health and welfare issues / legislative issues;” Dr. Craig Mabray, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Medical Officer and Kennel Specialist, and Dr. Steve Thompson, head of the Purdue Pet Wellness Clinic initiative and clinical associate professor in PVM’s Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, led discussion on the topic “Dentistry and health—how do you manage population vs individual health?;” Dr. Judith Stella, USDA Science Fellow and Kennel Welfare Specialist with the APHIS-Center for Animal Welfare and Purdue University, discussed “Purdue research update commercial dog breeding welfare;” and Dr. Nicole Widmar, Associate Professor of Ag Economics in the College of Agriculture, presented a lecture on the topic “Public perceptions of dog welfare.” The forum concluded with break-out groups and final remarks.

Click here to view the forum's speaker biographies and abstracts, which includes talking points from each topic. More information about the relationship between CAWS and Indiana’s dog breeders can be found by clicking here, in an interview with CAWS Director, Dr. Candace Croney.

Dr. Craig Mabray, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Medical Officer and Kennel Specialist, and Dr. Steve Thompson, head of the Purdue Pet Wellness Clinic initiative and clinical associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences lead discussion on canine dentistry and health.

Director of the Center for Animal Welfare Science Candace Croney addresses a capacity crowd at the Canine Welfare Science Forum on Thursday, May 19.

Writer: Kelsey Johnson, pvmnews@purdue.edu


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