Animal Wellness and Welfare Committee

The Animal Wellness & Welfare Committee (AWWC) goal is to make welfare issues an everyday consideration for small animal practitioners and to ensure that WSAVA is a proactive & respected partner within international welfare circles by combining advocacy with mutual respect and consensus-building amongst partners. This important work is proudly supported by WALTHAM®.

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Key goals

  • To promote advances in animal welfare and wellness around the world through enhanced veterinary care
  • To work with other committees within the WSAVA to provide the resources – information, CE, toolkits etc - to facilitate these advances



  • Dr. Shane Ryan - BVSc(Hons) MVS CVA GradDipAnimChiro MChiroSc MRCVS, WSAVA Vice-President. Singapore
  • Dr. Melinda D. Merck, D.V.M. Forensic Veterinarian, Veterinary Forensics Consulting, Atlanta, GA, USA


Committee members

  • Dr. John M Rawlings BSc MSc PhD, Global Science, Welfare and Ethics Advisor, WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, UK
  • Dr. Nienke Endenburg PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Animals in Science & Society, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Dr. Rod Jouppi BA, DVM, President, Walden Animal Hospital, Lively, Ontario, Canada; Chair of the Animal Ethics and Welfare Committee, AAHA, USA
  • Dr. Ann Therese "Tess" Kommedal DVM, Norway
  • Dr. Sheilah A Robertson BVMS(Hons), PhD, DECVAA, DACVAA, Dip ECAWBM (WSEL)Specialist in Welfare Science, Ethics and Law, DACAW, MRCVS, UK
  • Dr. Karyl Hurley, DVM, DACVIM, DECVIM-CA Director of Global Scientific Affairs for Mars Petcare, USA


Committee Advisors

  • Dr. John Rossi VMD, MBe (Master of Bioethics) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Bioethics, Drexel University School of Public Health, USA


Brief history

The AWWC was formed in 2009 thanks primarily to the efforts of Drs Roger Clarke of Australia and Ray Butcher, a UK-based veterinarian, who have dedicated their careers to advancing animal welfare and had the foresight to ensure that animal welfare was enshrined as one of WSAVA’s four key "pillars". The AWWC works closely with other WSAVA committees in delivering its goals, in particular the CE Committee and the One Health Committee. It has conducted an initial research study to help committee members better understand the global landscape of regional welfare issues so that it can plan and prioritize its future activity program

The AWWC Committee is kindly sponsored by WALTHAM®

Opportunities and challenges

The opportunity is that we have a great deal of global expertise and experience which we can collectively bring to support veterinarians all round the world as they strive to increase levels of small animal welfare and wellness.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is reaching out to those veterinarians who could most benefit from the support we can offer – we want to work in partnership with ALL veterinarians to achieve our goals.

Key activities

We are working to analyse the data from the research we have just conducted so that we can better understand what the needs of veterinarians are in this field and plan our activities accordingly

Priorities for 2016

Developing lecture streams for the NAVC 2016, Cartagena World Congress 2016, VPAT Thailand July 2016, as well as WSAVA Copenhagen 2016, and working with the CE committee on the development of additional regional CE initiatives.

Contact details for further information
Karyl J Hurley, DVM, DACVIM, DECVIM-CA, Global Scientific Affairs - Mars Petcare
T: +1 908 619 1044

Research summary

In February 2012, the AWWC issued an online survey to WSAVA member associations to help it start to develop a global picture of the key issues surrounding small animal welfare globally. While more data is needed to make the results more comprehensive, the AWWC intends to use these initial findings to help it prioritize activities for the rest of 2012 and into 2013.

Key findings:
When asked to select from a list of issues, those that they regarded as most important, ‘zoonoses’ were rated as the most important issue, followed closely by ‘shelters and re-homing centers’ (with reference to their welfare and euthanasia policies) and ‘animal behavior’ (aggressive dogs etc)

A large majority of respondents (81.4%) said that veterinarians in their country would value access to CE on small animal welfare with the following topics cited as priorities:

  • Nutrition
  • Shelter welfare
  • Euthanasia
  • Breeding practices
  • Pain management
  • Stray and feral animals
  • Political animal welfare issues
  • Welfare of canine, feline and exotic species

When asked how this CE should best be provided, the largest proportion of respondents (75.9%) preferred CE conferences in their region. Access to a central resource for educational materials was also rated highly (53.7%) while WSAVA Congress lecture streams were suggested by almost half (48.1%)

When asked if they would find it helpful for the WSAVA to organize visits, in association with Congresses, to sites of interest related to small animal welfare, 67.2% of respondents said that they would. More than half (59.1%) said that they would be interested in participating in voluntary activity programs with rabies clinics and animal shelters while passive visits to animal facilities were also suggested by 40.9% of respondents

In a similar vein, more than half (58.2%) of respondents said they would interested in applying for competitive educational grants for student internships in animal welfare that would require the provision of opportunities such as spay/neuter clinics; rescue experience or shelter work

When asked if their national organization had any documents in English that could be shared within the WSAVA, over a quarter (26.9%) said they had.

Almost half (46.3%) of respondents also indicated that their country has an equivalent of a ‘veterinarian’s oath’ which could be shared with the AWWC for comparison purposes while 47.8% said that there were organization/programs in place in their country which could serve as models for intervention in particular areas of animal welfare.

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