Live Export Issues in Australia

Author: Dr Stephanie Hing, Animal Welfare Policy and Research Manager, RSPCA Western Australia and CAWSEL 2017 attendee


At CAWSEL 2017, we learnt about welfare concepts and assessment, ethics and livestock welfare and these are all very relevant to the current live export issues in Australia.

Live export is a live issue at the moment. Every year, millions of livestock are exported from Australia overseas including to the Middle East. Animal welfare concerns have long been held about conditions during the journeys and the treatment of animals in destination countries. The issues recently came to a head when disturbing footage taken by a whistle-blower aboard a live export vessel was aired on Australian television in April 2018. The footage showed sheep suffering unbearably and dying from heat stress on several voyages from the Australian winter to the Middle Eastern summer. On one voyage alone, over 4000 sheep died from heat stress. Australia as a nation recoiled in horror.

At the time of writing, the live export company in question has had their export licence suspended by the Australian Department of Agriculture and criminal investigations are underway at both a state and Federal level. Leaders from all political persuasions have promised action to address the unacceptable and unnecessary suffering of animals in live export.

Might we dare to hope for a future where atrocities such as those revealed in the Australian live export industry were no longer?

Community outreach – the implications and the powerful benefits!

Author: Dr Stephanie Hing, Animal Welfare Policy and Research Manager, RSPCA Western Australia and CAWSEL 2017 attendee


I’ve had the privilege of volunteering at community outreach days where RSPCA Inspectors, dog trainers and vet clinic staff join together with local council rangers and vet nursing students to help dogs belonging to people who may otherwise not be able to afford pet care. On offer is free advice about desexing and other aspects of dog care, microchipping, health checks, food, flea prevention, worming, leads and collars.

Some of the people who bring their dogs along to community outreach days are homeless, many are disadvantaged and the majority are dealing with hardships we can only imagine. In some cases, their dog is their only constant companion.

Though it may be easy to say, “don’t have a pet unless you can afford to pay for care”, to counter that view, I reflect on the effervescent Dr David Williams’ lecture at CAWSEL 2017. Dr Williams discussed his study of homeless people and their pets in Cambridge. Our local context differs to Cambridge particularly in that charity vet services are less readily available in comparison to the UK but it is still worthy of note that –

“In contradistinction to the negative view…we found that dogs owned by homeless people were healthy animals, less likely to be obese, had fewer behavioural issues…when compared to dogs owned by people living in a conventional home”
(Williams and Hogg 2016)


People from all walks of life love their dogs and care for them in different ways. After direct involvement in community outreach days, learning about homeless pet charity programs and lectures at CAWSEL 2017 about the human animal bond, it has become clear to me that if we want to improve animal welfare, it is more constructive to do what we can to help rather than judge.

ISAZ 2018 Conference: Animals in Our Lives

Author: Dr Anthony Podberscek, The University of Sydney


From 2nd to 5th July, 2018, the International Society for Anthrozoology held its annual conference in Sydney, Australia. I was one of the organizers, along with Dr Pauleen Bennett (LaTrobe University) and Dr Bradley Smith (Central Queensland University). Anthrozoology is the study of human–animal interaction, a multidisciplinary field, and the conference certainly covered many disciplines: anthropology, history, psychology, philosophy, sociology, medicine, veterinary science, and more.

There were seven fantastic plenary talks: “Dogs helping people in families, hospitals, colleges, and at work” (Sandra Barker); “Managing human–wildlife interactions: Conflicts and communication” (Neil Jordan); “Cultural connections: Understanding the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and animals, and the implications for delivery of dog health and community wellbeing programs in these communication” (Christine Ross and Ted Donelan); “Animals on screens: Thinking critically about animals, audiences and empathy” (Claire Parkinson); “Human–animal interactions in zoos: Balancing urban biophilia with species conservation” (Vicky Melfi); “Animals like us: Self and identity within the furry and therian communities” (Courtney Plante). As well, there were over 90 oral presentations, over 50 posters, and 11 symposia: a very full programme! People interested in animal welfare science, ethics and law would have found much to delight them: there were talks on the welfare of assistance animals, one welfare, farm animals, captive animals, ethics, and human–wildlife conflict.

A podcast of Sandra Barker’s plenary can be heard at:

The abstract book can be downloaded for free HERE.



‘Stop Puppy Farming’ reforms

Author: Dr Stephanie Hing, Animal Welfare Policy and Research Manager, RSPCA Western Australia and CAWSEL 2017 attendee


Attending CAWSEL 2017 and learning more about animal welfare concepts, principles of ethics in animal use and animal law, has further equipped me to work doggedly on reforms to improve animal welfare. One such area for reform is the regulation of dog breeding in our state.

Puppy farms, also known as puppy mills, are intensive dog breeding operations where dogs suffer unbearably in terrible conditions. Sadly, puppy farms have long been making headlines in different parts of the world including the UK and Australia. Though they may not all make the headlines, there are many dogs who are left with lifelong physical and emotional scars as a result of irresponsible and indiscriminate dog breeding more broadly. The emotional and financial toll on the dogs’ families is also profound. All too often, due to lack of regulation in the dog breeding industry, the people responsible are not held accountable. This must change. Governments around the world are introducing laws to regulate dog breeding and improve the welfare of dogs.

Since attending CAWSEL 2017, on behalf of the organisation I work for, I have been providing input on proposed ‘Stop Puppy Farming’ reforms in our state. The four main components of the reforms include:
(1) a centralised state database for dog breeders
(2) desexing of dogs (unless they belong to a breeder on the centralised state database)
(3) pet shops only able to rehome dogs via accredited rescue organisations and
(4) mandatory animal welfare standards for dogs.
Together, these reforms aim to increase traceability and accountability in dog breeding, reduce over-breeding and the number of dogs in shelters, interrupt the supply chains fuelling puppy farming and improve dog welfare overall.

Hopefully together, we can make legal history for dogs. The ‘Stop Puppy Farming’ reforms in Western Australia are currently out for public consultation until August 3:


Australia: Layer hens in battery cages

Author: Dr Stephanie Hing, Animal Welfare Policy and Research Manager, RSPCA Western Australia and CAWSEL 2017 attendee


Can we get hens out of battery cages? Conventional battery cages were phased out in the EU by 2012 so you may be shocked to learn they are still widely used in the Australian egg industry today. This is one of the major animal welfare issues Australia faces right now.

Motivation to get hens out of battery cages has only strengthened since attending CAWSEL 2017 where we discussed decades of research on the animal welfare issues associated with conventional battery cages. It was invaluable to learn directly from scientists on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Scientific Panel who undertook comprehensive analyses of all the issues.

In early 2018, the draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry (The Standards) were released for public consultation. The Standards are supposed to outline the minimum requirements for the management of poultry going forward. Shockingly, the draft Standards still allowed hens to be kept in cramped barren cages. There were even allegations that the egg industry had colluded with the government to keep conventional battery cages.

Australian animal welfare organisations, scientists, some state governments and the majority of the general public recognised that overwhelming evidence indicates conventional battery cages pose unacceptable animal welfare risks. An unprecedented number (>165,000) of submissions were made to the public consultation on the Standards. We are now awaiting the outcome.

Will hens in Australia still be kept in conventional battery cages for years to come? Or will they be freed from extreme confinement?


In search of health and ‘hoppiness’!

CAWSEL Ambassador and PhD Candidate at Murdoch University, Jess Rendle shares insight into her PhD work


Kangaroos and wallabies, collectively known as macropods, are found in zoos all over the world. But, for reasons that are not yet clear, these animals suffer with a condition that seriously affects their welfare – ‘lumpy jaw’. Lumpy jaw is a bacterial infection of the oral cavity that is distinguished by characteristic proliferation of the jawbones.The condition is painful, difficult to treat, and often results in the death of the animal. Lumpy jaw is frequently found in zoo macropods, but is rare in the wild. It is therefore suggested that aspects of macropod captivity may be associated with the occurrence of lumpy jaw.

My PhD is investigating the extent of the lumpy jaw problem in zoos across Australia and Europe, where macropods are popular exhibits. I am also investigating aspects of macropod housing and husbandry that may influence the development of this painful condition. Results from this research will be used to develop new husbandry guidelines for the care of macropods with the aim of reducing incidence of lumpy jaw and subsequently improving the health and welfare of one of Australia’s most iconic species.


If you would like to discuss her work or any aspect of CAWSEL, contact Jess via email:


What is CAWSEL All About?


Described in the past as “animal welfare boot camp”, CAWSEL is only but a remarkable and professionally developed range of courses aimed at providing attendees with a broad appreciation of animal welfare science, ethics and law. Four individual courses merge under the umbrella of CAWSEL and tackle a vast array of topics, such as: Welfare Concepts & Assessment, and Zoo Animal Welfare; Law, Companion Animal and Horse Welfare; Principles of Ethics in Relation to Animal Use and Farm Animal Welfare.

The decades long legacy of CAWSEL is a testimony to its valuable content and the individuals it brings together. Veterinarians, vet nurses, animal welfare and animal science researchers, students and animal charity workers and campaigners from every corner of the world come together for two weeks every year in mid-September, to hear from leading experts and learn through a combination of lectures, discussions and videos.

15 of the world’s experts in animal welfare, eminent academics, researchers, professionals and pioneers in the filed deliver the ever changing and up-to-date material, sharing knowledge and experiences to better equip attendees to improve the lives of animals.

Professor Emeritus Donald Broom (Cambridge University) delivers a large part of the Courses. Donald was appointed the first Professor of Animal Welfare in the world in the Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge in 1986 and, although now retired, is still a driving force in the field, writing papers and books and presenting around the world.

Course organiser, Dr Anthony Podberscek, teaches on the subject of companion animal during Course 2 of CAWSEL. After receiving a PhD from University of Queensland, Anthony became post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge and is now back ‘down under’ as affiliate of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney. For the past 21 years Anthony has been editor-in-chief of Anthrozoös.

Although he recognises that advances in technology have led to courses increasingly being taught online, Anthony is proud that: “CAWSEL bucks the trend and continues to bring everyone together – enthusiastic students and teachers – in one real and beautiful place, Cambridge”.

Nothing describes the impact and importance of CAWSEL better than 2017 attendee Stephanie Hing, (RSPCA Western Australia): “We ran the gauntlet of issues, navigated the research landscape and scaled the highs and lows of legal and ethical frameworks. We went in as passionate and driven individuals. We have emerged even more galvanised, armed with greater understanding and skills. CAWSEL has equipped us to tackle animal welfare issues thoroughly and systematically.”


Have we convinced you yet? If not, there’s much more to explore on our official website: or you could always get in touch by emailing We would love to hear from you!



An Interview with Professor Donald Broom

Extract from Animal Justice UK, June 2018


CAWSEL lecturer and one of the world’s leaders in animal welfare, Professor Donald Broom, shares his life-long experiences and the impact of his work on perception and policy with Edie Bowles in the June edition of the Animal Justice UK magazine, an A-Law publication:

“The first change that occurred was the establishment of animal welfare as a scientific discipline. It was a major step forward to work out how to evaluate welfare in a scientific way; to have measures of suffering and happiness scientifically accepted. One of the other things that has happened is the growth of this area. In the 1980s, apart from work important for welfare on treating disease, there were only about 20 people working in animal welfare science; now there are two or three thousand.”

Read full article here:

Published June 2018 in Volume 5 of the Animal Justice UK student eMagazine, p.22-25. Interview by: Edie Bowles, Student Manager


A taste of Cambridge

Author Nick Stibbs

Image result for farmers market cambridge uk free image

Everybody loves food and drink of some sort or another.  For those of you who consider yourselves to be a foodie through and through, Nick Stibbs has put together a detailed list of local places where you can buy fresh local food from local suppliers and farmers’ markets during your stay in Cambridge for the conference in September 2018.

Just click the link above for Nick’s list.


A weekend in Cambridge

Author Lucy Dodsworth

Punts on the River Cam, Cambridge

After years of living in Oxford, this month’s guest blogger always thought she knew where her loyalties lie, however a trip to Cambridge began to sway her allegiance.  Like Oxford, Cambridge has a fascinating history, beautiful architecture, punts on the river, cobbled streets full of bicycles and enough museums and libraries to feel like you’re getting cleverer by osmosis.  The river running right past the colleges adds an extra level of prettiness that had Lucy considering defecting.  With the knowledge that Cambridge University was founded by students from Oxford, Lucy now classes Cambridge to be an extension of Oxford!

For those of you who will be attending our conference in September 2018, check out this mini guide to a 48 hour trip to Cambridge.

If you would like to appear as a guest blogger on this website, please get in touch!