Animal welfare, ethics and rights theme of the Animal Welfare Foundation’s 2024 Discussion Forum - Veterinary Practice
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Animal welfare, ethics and rights theme of the Animal Welfare Foundation’s 2024 Discussion Forum

It’s incumbent upon vet teams to regularly question our role regarding these important and hotly debated issues

The concepts of animal welfare, ethics and rights will form the theme of this year’s annual Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) Discussion Forum, which will take place on Monday 13 May at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London. The theme will run throughout the event programme and bring together experts from across the fields of veterinary science, animal welfare science and law.

The first discussion, chaired by Professor of Veterinary Ethics Madeline Campbell, examines the concepts of animal welfare, ethics and rights from scientific, legal and moral standpoints. The session, sponsored by Vet Partners, will delve into fundamental questions like how these concepts overlap and interact, whether animal rights inherently lead to improved welfare, and whether the veterinary profession should advocate for animal rights.

Joining Professor Campbell as part of the panel, past AWF trustee, past British Veterinary Association President and PDSA senior vet for Animal Welfare and Professional Engagement Sean Wensley will focus on the veterinary profession’s moral and ethical perspectives in safeguarding animal welfare, while Steven McCulloch, senior lecturer in Human-Animal Studies at the University of Winchester will discuss why vets have a responsibility to engage in the animal rights debate. Dr Angus Nurse, Professor of Law and Environmental Justice at Anglia Ruskin University, will frame the conversation by covering the legal language of rights, how rights function in human society and discuss different types of rights and how they apply to the Animal Welfare Act.

The discussion kicks off the day and will lay the groundwork for the following sessions on delayed euthanasia, animal behaviour and insect welfare, putting into perspective the complexities and challenges of improving animal welfare in the UK.

Chair of the AWF board of trustees Julian Kupfer emphasised how prescient this discussion is considering the growing calls for the veterinary and welfare community to advocate for animal rights. He said: “Understanding the differences and relationship between animal welfare, ethics and rights is essential for shaping effective attitudes, policies and practices that elevate standards of care for all animals. The Discussion Forum, as always, is a catalyst for change and innovation in our approach to animal welfare.”

British Veterinary Association President Anna Judson added: “The Discussion Forum has never shied away from tricky topics, and this year’s programme exploring animal welfare, ethics and rights is no exception. As a profession centred on animal welfare, it’s incumbent upon vet teams to regularly question our role when it comes to these important and hotly debated issues. It’s bound to a lively discussion and I look forward to hearing the evidence and perspectives of the expert panels.”

There is still time to secure tickets for the day. Standard tickets are priced at £135 and include lunch and the evening reception. Concessions are available for students, recent graduates and veterinary nurses.

To buy tickets and for more information about the programme and speakers, visit the website.

The AWF Discussion Forum is sponsored by Vet Partners, Pets at Home and Vets for Pets, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and World Horse Welfare.

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