Friday, 20 March 2009

Dates for ICAWC 2009 announced!

The dates for the 11th International Companion Animal Welfare Conference have been announced!

7th-9th October 2009


H-1133 Budapest
Kàrpàt u. 62-64

A full programme and details of how to register will be available very soon; in the meantime, please let us know if there's anything you'd particularly like us to feature at

You can also read the 10th Edition of ICAWC News, all about the Stresa conference.

Monday, 17 November 2008

What happens next? Looking forward to 2009

It's been a couple of weeks since ICAWC 2008 ended and we've been busy doing helpful things like uploading all the presentations and handouts to the website, preparing for International training that will be happening later this week, replying to feedback and comments and so forth.

We've also been discussing next year's ICAWC; well, you don't think it all comes together a week before the event, do you?! The shortlist is still hush-hush, but as soon as it's official I'll be letting you all know where it'll be and what to expect.

Although it won't be updated as frequently, we'll keep this blog going at regular intervals as the planning for next year takes place. In the meantime, please do keep the discussion going at the ICAWC social network and keep building the Wiki; these are all useful communication tools that can grow in the future.

Alex Roumbas

Friday, 31 October 2008

ICAWC 2008 Presentation: Pets In Europe - Chris Laurence

Previous presentation: TNR: The Template - Carolyn Menteith

Chris Laurence is Dogs Trust's Veterinary Director, and is the Chairman of Pets In Europe.

1:05: PIE started because of the now centralised nature of European legislation. Once legislation is drafted, it's usually too late to change it, so it's important to influence the structure of legislation before it's written. So, if more legislation is coming from Brussels, that's where we should be.

It can't just be one person talking for one organisation, so PIE invited every animal organisation in the EU to join the attempt to influence legislation. It is a multi-national organisation, but there are still 10 needed to create a fully pan-European organisation.

1:10: What is PIE pushing for?

EU laws that stress that it is wrong to be cruel to animals. But it has to be within EU competence, and the EU has to be convinced that these are European issues, not just national issues. The first aim is to make sure that animal welfare, thus far considered a national problem, is part of EU competence (including all animals, not just commercial animals).

1:15: There is already an EU competence in dealing with human health issues and there are laws that affect animal health (such as rabies directives). This can be built on to develop animal welfare and animal health strategies. The message for an animal health action plan is that "prevention is better than cure". A way to push the EU to consider this is to raise the subject of zoonotic diseases (transferable from animals to humans). There's little to be done about rabies, but leishmania is on the rise and can be the focus of lobbying.

At the moment, we don't have sandflies, which transmit leishmania, in the UK. But many more animals are being moved around Europe and it is only a matter of time. Climate change also appears to be a factor in rising levels of infection.

1:20: Thus, the Animal Health Advisory is meeting and discussing these issues. There is a scoping paper written for the committee to review encouraging an EU campaign of awareness about leishmania. Further research about the spread of the disease is needed to support this.

The message also needs to be taken to the public. There are leaflets which can be downloaded from the website, translated and handed out to get the message onto the streets.


Although presentations will follow on customer satisfaction, Internet marketing on a low budget and The Link, I will be unable to liveblog from the stage! However, I hope the coverage thus far has given you an idea about the kind of information and resources available at ICAWC. I hope we see you there next year!

ICAWC 2008 Presentation: TNR: The Template - Carolyn Menteith

Previous presentation: The Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare - Peter Davies

Carolyn is a very experienced dog trainer, behaviourist and broadcaster. On behalf of Dogs Trust and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, she is launching the TNR Template.

12:45: This template is an adaptable guide to setting up a Trap Neuter Return programme anywhere. It takes them through the whole process from deciding if there is a problem and what the scale of it is to celebrating successes.

The template came out of work done by Dogs Trust, Battersea and, originally, North Shore Animal League in Oradea, Romania. You can read more about this International project online. SOS Dogs Oradea has proved so successful that as of January 2008 both major sponsors were able to pull out of the project, allowing the staff in Oradea and Robert Smith, the man who inspired the project, to completely take over and continue the work.

12:50: In the spirit of events like ICAWC, the plan was always to pass on all the advice and knowledge gained. There's no point in re-inventing the wheel, and making the same mistakes. Carolyn was commissioned to write the template, and establish the language, content and delivery of it.

It's not easy - but the information can be delivered in a straightforward and freely available fashion. This resource is completely and utterly free.

You can download the template online, and visit the Facebook page. It is designed to be used as a web resource, as it's fully interactive, but can also be printed. It's colour-coded, and starts from "can I do it, should I do it?".

12:55: Carolyn is taking the delegates through each section's contents.

1:00: This template can only help people be a success if they know about it and where they can find it. Please put the links above on your website, social networking pages or any other resource that you have. If you think that someone can benefit from it, please tell them.


Next presentation: Pets In Europe - Chris Laurence

ICAWC 2008 Presentation: The Universal Declaration for Animal Welfare - Peter Davies

Previous presentation: Vision: the What, the Why and the How - Andy Ashcroft

As a late replacement for Mike Radford, Maj. Gen. Peter Davies has stepped in to speak on a subject of his choice, the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare. He is the Director General of the WSPA of which Dogs Trust is a part.

12:25: Peter covers the history of the UN declaration, the seeds of which began while he was Director General of the RSPCA. There had already been one failed attempt to reach consensus in Paris, so he decided to resurrect it, and at first it was very complicated.

Once agreed, however, implementation is all about getting governments to become part of it. To begin with, the government of the Philipines offered to host a gathering in Manila. Unfortunately, a late, unapproved edit to the text referring to trade caused the meeting to stall. Through the night, the agreement was rewritten to be presented again to delegates the following day. The resultant document focussed on the Amsterdam Protocal - the idea that animals are sentient, feel pain and can suffer.

12:30: It was not straightforward. Small compromises on wording did have to be made, alternative wording for some paragraphs was provided - no resolution can be totally perfect. But now, on the strength of that, a formal drafting will be made based on the model that has been created.

Among others, full government support or ministerial support has been obtained for this from:
  • Sweden
  • New Zealand
  • Cambodia
  • Fiji
  • The Seychelles
  • UK
  • Croatia
  • Bahrain
  • Costa Rica
  • Columbia
An impressive list of worldwide veterinary associations have also signed up to UDAW.

12:35: Where do other organisations come in?

Currently, 1.6 million signatures appear on petitions. More can be added! The target is 10 million, which would be the world's largest petition.

You can sign the petition online. I've just done it myself!


Next presentation: TNR: The Template - Carolyn Menteith

ICAWC 2008 Presentation: Vision: the What, the Why and the How - Andy Ashcroft

Previous presentation: Making the Best for Feral Cats - Becky Robinson

Andy, a business consultant and ex-Civil Servant, is now part of Dogs Trust's team. He's clearly sport mad as we seem to be talking about football, tennis and the Olympic Games! This is because the one thing every sporting great has in common is knowing what they want to achieve and why. He continues on from Adrian's thoughts about setting a vision and creating a business plan.

12:00: Why is Tiger Woods so successful? Because he focussed just on golf from a very early age. Sport psychologists focus on the what, the why and the how. Charities must do the same.

Is it just about winning a game? Or about winning the whole tournament?

12:10: Andy uses a case study of community that wanted to reduce the problem of prostitution in the area. They did it by coming to the pub which sold women and staring at prostitutes and clients until they were embarrassed. Within three years, the problem was solved, they moved to creating more opportunities to women and empowering them. Eventually the same pub became the headquarters of a positive movement.

12:15: Another case study:

What? An interventionist AW organisation for Poland
Why? To protect animals
How? Took inspiration from the RSPCA to create unifomed guard, volunteers etc.
Results? Within two years, 48 uniformed volunteers, 300 in total. Next year, RSPCA will train further volunteers and the Polish Prime Minister and Dogs Trust have offered some financial support.


Next presentation: The Universal Declaration for Animal Welfare - Peter Davies

ICAWC 2008 Presentation: Making the Best for Feral Cats - Becky Robinson

Previous presentation: Vision / Mission / Strategy - Adrian Burder

Becky is President and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies.

10:35: Becky gives an overview of Alley Cat Allies, the programmes it carries out and Feral Cat Day. She points out recent research that found evidence of a mummified cat buried metres from mummified human remains almost twice as long ago as we might expect. So for longer than any of us have realised, cats and humans have had a very special relationship.

10:45: Feral cats exist everywhere, in every climate and with the most varied diet of any species of cat. It is natural for cats to live outside, and only 62 years ago, with the invention of cat litter, did domestic cats start to live indoors with humans instead of around humans. Strays and kittens who have not been handled by humans early on can become unsocialised.

10:50: Cats hunt alone, but live communally in colonies. They are content and are not waiting to be socialised; they might adapt or make the choice to live with us, but many cats prefer to live outside. Feral cats might have kittens that can be socialised to humans and there are degrees of how feral a cat is.

Feral cats are not impossible to socialise, but it's difficult. Trap, neuter, tame is not recommended by Alley Cat Allies, but feral cats can become very attached to their carers. Many shelters handed feral cats by well-meaning helpers put down the animal within hours; is it better and more humane to leave the cat outside or hand it in to be put down?

10:55: Looking at statistics concerning dogs, killing ferals and strays is not productive. It does not solve the problem and it is not based on fact, but fear. Even rabies is a vaccine preventable disease. It's the reproductive process that increases the problem. Removing feral cats from an area also just invites others to move in. A 'vacuum effect' is created. We do not have the choice to elimintate cats, we have a choice between unvaccinated, breeding cats or vaccinated, neutered cats.

11:00: Many cultures teach us to treat animals responsibles. Alley Cat Allies has conducted research in the US that shows evidence of great sympathy for ferals, especially following the advice of Bob Barker, who closed his programmes with "spay and neuter your pets". A mating pair of cats can produce maybe 50,000 cats in five years. Viruses such as FIV and feline leukaemia are discovered in less than 4% of studied colonies, but neutering reduces these numbers further by preventing the spread to offspring.

Becky says "there are million cats and sanctuaries are not the answer. Removing cats is not the answer... socialising the cats is impractical, difficult, time-consuming and not humane. The number one way to improve the lives of cats is introducing... Trap, Neuter, Return."

The stages that are followed are feeding, providing vet care and neutering, and also providing education for the local community. Not only does neutering improve health and reduce the population, it also reduces behaviour that can attract cruelty and fear, such as fighting, caterwauling etc.

With planned, targetting trapping, hundreds of cats can be identified, trapped, treated and returned within a short space of time. Two months of planning might mean a whole area or colony targetted and treated within a week.

It's helpful to trap as early in life as possible, and to make the most of one holding period for neutering, vaccination, ear tipping and any other treatment. The vast majority are perfectly healthy, and only need to be held for one night in most cases.

11:10: With education, ACA has seen gated and local communities help support trap, neuter, return in their area, and in very successful areas the remaining helpers outnumber the cats and fight to have the chance to feed them! As a result, ACA has expanded its mission. They know that the most successful programmes come from institutional change and are paid for and supported by municipalities and are free for caregivers and volunteers to access. The new mission has to tackle the number one documented threat to cats in the US: institutional euthanasia. In the US, 73% of rescued cats die in shelters (according to ACA numbers) and all feral cats are put down by many shelters as a matter of course. ACA's new course of action is to stop this happening.

Becky concludes with a video of a high volume spay-neuter clinic.


Next presentation: Vision: the What, the Why and the How - Andy Ashcroft