When the UBC Animal Welfare Program was first created, more than a few people were skeptical. Some animal protectionists pictured university scientists as scalpel-wielding villains. Some farmers imagined a group of activists picketing their farms.
After 16 years, we hope the Program has convinced the skeptics that research, education and public outreach can make a tremendous contribution to improving the lives of animals. For that, we have to thank the many organizations that have supported the Program, both financially and in other ways. Working with the BC SPCA and Vancouver Animal Control, we conducted research on better housing and management of cats and dogs in shelters. The support of the dairy industry has allowed us to do farm surveys and experimental studies on causes of injury, improved housing, and early detection of disease in cattle. Through the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, we launched studies on the welfare problems of exotic pets, the scope for reducing animal use in drug testing, and the effectiveness of humane philanthropy. The BC Veterinary Medical Association and many individual veterinarians have provided faithful support and important links with the animal care professionals who implement and communicate our research.
But needs are changing. Although Canada has made great strides in the humane management of dogs and cats, there are tens of millions of sick and malnourished strays in countries like India and Brazil. The majority of the world’s meat production now occurs in developing and transition countries where there are unique animal welfare problems and cultural challenges to solving them. And, as the world’s human population reaches unprecedented heights, we face serious animal welfare problems from habitat loss, climate change and human-wildlife conflict. In response to these issues, the Animal Welfare Program must develop in new directions. Continued support from our partners and donors will be crucial in meeting these future demands.
David Fraser, Marina von Keyserlingk, & Dan Weary
Animal Welfare Program Faculty