Authorities in Hong Kong ordered 2,000 hamsters to be culled yesterday (18 January), after 11 hamsters in a pet shop tested positive for COVID-19.
After a worker at the Little Boss pet shop in Causeway Bay tested positive for the Delta variant of the virus, the animals were tested, and officials say that 11 hamsters were found to be infected.
As a result of China's zero-tolerance COVID policy, Hong Kong has ordered approximately 2,000 hamsters to be put down, and has stopped imports and sales of the rodents.
People who have brought a hamster from the Little Boss pet shop since 22 December 2021 have been ordered to hand over their pet to be euthanised.
There has been a backlash from animal rights campaigners and pet owners against the measures. Hong Kong's local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals called the action 'drastic' in a statement issued on Facebook.
The organisation commented: “The SPCA is shocked and concerned over the recent government announcement on the handling of over 2,000 small animals, which did not take animal welfare and the human-animal bond into consideration.
“The SPCA sincerely hopes the AFCD will not take any further drastic action before reviewing its approach. The SPCA will urgently liaise with the AFCD to discuss alternative approaches.
“We urge pet owners not to panic or abandon their pets.”
A petition on change.org, entitled 'Stop the Government from Wrongfully Euthanising Little Boss' Small Pets', has reached over 26,000 signatures so far, with the number of signatories continuing to increase steadily.
Members of a group named 'Hong Kong the Cute Hamster Group' on the Telegram social media app have been contacted by almost 3,000 volunteers willing to temporarily take care of unwanted animals, as reported by reuters.
Operation Magic Carpet hopes to raise over £50,000 for ongoing living expenses.
A crowdfunding page has been launched to help fund the ongoing costs of vets and their families evacuated from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
Animal welfare campaigner Dominic Dyer has called on the public’s support to raise more than £50,000 for the unique rescue mission, dubbed Operation Magic Carpet.
The money raised will be used to meet the group’s monthly accommodation, food, utilities, medical bills and animal care costs until organisers can find them a safe and permanent home.
The page states: “The volunteers behind Operation Magic Carpet will oversee all aspects of raising and distributing funds to the individuals on the ground in Pakistan, through the team at World Trade Center Gibraltar, a Member of the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA), acting voluntarily.
“Any funds exceeding the ongoing requirements of Operation Magic Carpet will be donated to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).”
A collaboration between volunteers in Britain, Europe and the Middle East, Operation Magic Carpet managed to rescue 92 people at the end of November who were facing persecution by the Taliban.
The group included former staff members from the International arm of ‘Mayhew London’, of which 13 were vets, together with business executives, military and security specialists, along with their families. Dominic Dyer played a leading role in the mission alongside a British vet and a Jerusalem-based translator.
The initial funding for the mission came from two sisters who felt a connection with the plight of the Afghan people, based on their own father’s history. Donations were also received from private individuals and businessmen.
A spokesperson for Operation Magic Carpet said: “All 92 evacuees put their faith and trust in a group of complete strangers living thousands of miles away, people they have never met. Fearing for their lives, in a country on the brink of disintegration, they packed a single bag each, left their homes and everything they knew behind them and went into hiding.
“Now safer in Pakistan, the 92 people and their companion animals will be securely accommodated in Islamabad, while plans are made for moving them to a permanent home in Britain, Canada, or other nations around the world.”
At the time of writing, the campaign had raised more than £6,000 of its £50,000 goal. For more information and to donate to the cause, visit gofundme.com/f/fmjsar-operation-magic-carpet
Image (C) Operation Magic Carpet.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee has sought assurance on the Government's new animal welfare committee, part of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill.
The EFRA Committee has written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rt Hon George Eustace MP, ahead of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill's Second Reading in the House of Commons today (18 January), seeking reassurance on the new Animal Sentience Committee's (ASC) power to do its job.
Created by the Bill, the ASC will publish reports about whether animal sentience is probably considered when government policy is developed, which Ministers will have to respond to.
Although the creation of the ASC is welcomed by the EFRA Committee, it has made further comments on the Bill, saying in its letter that the it is necessary for the ASC to have people with specific expertise and scientific knowledge.
Also stated in the letter was that the amount of time allocated for the Committee's work, 15 – 20 days per year, may not be enough to attract high-calibre candidates to the role. The MPs on the EFRA Committee have asked the Secretary of State to review the time commitment of the ASC members after its first year of operations.
The EFRA Committee also asked Ministers to confirm that the ASC would be able to publish its reviews without requiring the approval of any government department, alongside highlighting that the ASC must have sufficient powers to gather the information it needs to do its work, or risk becoming 'toothless'.
The winning application will be announced the week commencing 13 June.
Funding applications have opened for the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative's (MMI) Sarah Brown Research Grant, and will close on Friday 20 May 2022 at 5pm.
Set up in memory of RVCS Council member and mental health campaigner Sarah Brown, the £20,000 grant has been awarded annually since 2019.
The grant has funded research projects on topics including neurodiversity in the profession, wellbeing among isolated farm vets, the impact of racism on mental health, and the impact of moral injury on wellbeing.
Applications on any area of veterinary mental health are welcomed, however the MMI has said that particular interest will be shown to projects covering its key focus areas for 2022-27, which include students and new graduates, the veterinary nursing profession, beyond mental health awareness, leadership, and equality, diversity, inclusion and civility.
Mind Matters Initiative manager, Lisa Quigley, said: “We’re delighted to launch the Sarah Brown Research Grant funding applications for 2022. The grant is now in its fourth year and has been awarded in previous years to some incredible research projects, which have been led by passionate and talented researchers.
“I would encourage anyone with a mental health research idea, including students and those who are just starting out in their research careers to apply for the funding, as we will be judging applications based on their quality, originality and relevance to the profession rather than how much research experience the applicants have.
“Applications will be anonymised, so the judging panel won’t be able to see the applicant’s affiliations, prior publications or professional seniority.”
Further information on how to apply and support for putting together an application can be found here.
Image (C) Mind Matters Initiative
RCVS publishes findings from the coronavirus impact survey reports.
A large majority of veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses saw an increase in caseload due to new animal ownership during COVID-19, according to research conducted by the RCVS.
Findings from the coronavirus impact survey reports for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses also reveal some 40 per cent of veterinary surgeons and more than 40 per cent of RVNs experienced concerns for their personal safety aside from catching Covid.
The safety concerns mostly related to client interactions at the practice, and the majority of vets and VNs said this was more frequent than before the pandemic.
Of the 28,718 vets and 19,925 RVNs that responded to the survey, many reported conflict between their wellbeing and professional role.
A high proportion of recipients said they found it hard to juggle their work and caring responsibilities, and many also said their mental health was adversely affected by the experience of working during the pandemic.
Commenting on the findings, RCVS CEO Lizzie Locket said: “While many of the results of the survey may not be especially surprising and confirm what we have already been told anecdotally, it is very important that we have this hard data to hand on the overall impact of the pandemic on individual members of the professions.
“These two reports complement the six surveys that we have conducted with veterinary practices on the economic impact of the pandemic to give us as clear and holistic a picture as possible about the challenges that the professions and the veterinary sector as a whole have faced since March 2020."
She added: “This not only provides a useful historical snapshot, but builds an evidence base to inform future temporary changes should the pandemic continue into more waves, or should future such crises arise.”
The research was conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies on behalf of the RCVS between July and August last year.
It reveals that many veterinary nurses took on extra responsibilities during the pandemic, including general domestic cleaning (70%), clinical cleaning (65%) and reception work (63%).
The findings also show that ,ore than half of vet surgeon respondents who worked extra hours (53%) did so completely unpaid or mostly unpaid, compared to veterinary nurses.
Other key findings include:
- 67 per cent of veterinary nurses experienced a change in shift patterns at some point in the pandemic, compared with 57 per cent of veterinary surgeons
- 49 per cent of veterinary nurses worked additional hours due to others being furloughed, compared to 40 per cent of veterinary surgeons
- 37 per cent of veterinary nurses were furloughed, compared with 23 per cent of veterinary surgeons.
Ms Lockett added: “A large number of both vets and vet nurses who responded said that the experiences since March 2020 have left them feeling more pessimistic about veterinary work and their place within it. I would like to reassure members of the veterinary team that the RCVS is aware and understands.
“We tried throughout the pandemic to support the professions with relevant temporary guidance changes, and we are now working with a range of stakeholders on critical issues such as the workforce crisis, which has been in part caused by Covid. We are also developing tools, training and resources to support the professions, via our programmes such as RCVS Leadership and Mind Matters.”
The VMD has shared details from its online Equine Anthelmintic Resistance Stakeholder Workshop, describing a “consensus and enthusiasm” amongst stakeholders for involvement in initiatives.
In the workshop, which took place on 11 November 2021, 45 external stakeholders were given the opportunity to share their views and expertise on the core problems associated with anthelmintic resistance in equine parasites.
After a series of brief presentations from people with expertise on the subject, both internal and external, delegates were split into small groups for discussion.
In the released summary notes of the workshop, the VMD said: “There was consensus and enthusiasm amongst delegates to adopt a pro-active joined up approach to address the problems associated with anthelmintic resistance in the equine sector.”
Agreement was formed in discussions on the key principles that underpin best practice for sustainable control of equine parasites, and the necessity of a coordinated approach with a pan-industry equine anthelmintic resistance working group was acknowledged, in order to provide a single source of truth to develop best practice guidelines.
Stakeholders also explored the benefits of introducing standardisation of faecal egg count (FEC) techniques, as well as the importance of better utilisation of existing data and diagnostic tools.
As acknowledged in the summary notes, the VMD has agreed to assimilate these key themes for further exploration.
A follow up Equine Anthelmintic Resistance Stakeholder Meeting will be convened by the VMD to discuss the formation of a pan-industry equine working group, and anyone interested in attending the meeting and being involved in the process should email email@example.com
The course is free to WSAVA members and is suitable for all veterinary professionals.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has released an online nutrition course, comprised of four modules.
Developed by the WSAVA's Global Nutrition Committee (GNC), the course aims to further veterinary understanding of the value of nutritional assessments, alongside assisting veterinary professions in making feeding and monitoring plans and advising clients on nutrition.
Initiated by the WSAVA's Continuing Education Committee (CEC), the course is available free of charge to WSAVA members. It is aimed at veterinary surgeons, veterinary technicians, veterinary nurses and veterinary students, although the WSAVA assures that the course is also suitable for anyone with an interest in pet food selection criteria and body condition scoring.
Dr Jane Armstrong, chair of WSAVA CEC, said: "The CEC is delighted to see the GNC’s Global Nutrition Guidelines brought to life in such a user-friendly form. This course is a valuable addition to the online offerings available on the WSAVA Academy.
“Thanks to the generosity of our Diamond Partner, the Purina Institute, we are pleased that the important foundational nutritional information it contains is freely available to all WSAVA members.
“As the International Veterinary Students Association is an affiliate member of WSAVA, veterinary students around the world will also enjoy free access to the modules, which is particularly great news."
Featuring narrated and interactive e-learning, videos, downloadable resources, multiple choice questions and drag and drop activities, the modules are currently available in English, Spanish, Russian and Mandarin Chinese. RACE accreditation of the course is underway.
Co-chair of the GNC, Dr Marge Chandler, said of the course content: “The modules were designed as an engaging and practical way for the practice team to incorporate nutritional assessments into everyday practice around the world, thus bringing added value to their patients and clients.”
Images (C) WSAVA
BVNA and International Cat Care to champion feline health and welfare.
A new collaboration that aims to empower veterinary nurses to ‘speak up for cats’ has been announced by the BVNA.
BVNA president Alex Taylor - also known as 'The Cat Nurse' - has revealed International Cat Care (iCatCare) as her charity of choice for her presidential year.
A passionate advocate for felines, Alex believes an organisation supporting veterinary professionals and owners to improve feline welfare was a natural fit.
Commenting on her decision, Alex said: “Selecting iCatCare as the chosen charity for my presidential year was an honour to do. Not just because of my passion for cats, but because iCatCare and their veterinary division ISFM have always supported and championed veterinary nurses.
“There are so many veterinary nurses out there who have a keen interest and passion for feline welfare, and we have a huge role to play in promoting feline wellbeing, whether that’s in a clinical environment or through cat owner education.”
She added: “I am very proud to be part of the feline veterinary nursing and BVNA communities, so this collaboration is very dear to my heart. I have no doubt that the partnership between the BVNA and iCatCare will benefit the veterinary nursing profession and help improve feline welfare for many years to come.”
The veterinary division of iCatCare, The International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), provides resources to help veterinary nurses learn and apply their knowledge of feline medicine in practice.
ISFM programme manager, Sarah Collins, said: “As an RVN, I hugely appreciate the work carried out by the BVNA to support nurses and represent and promote our profession. I am therefore delighted to be working with them to enhance knowledge of feline physical health and mental wellbeing to improve feline welfare via the veterinary nurse community.”
This year marks the 10th anniversary of ISFM’s Cat-Friendly Clinic Programme and Nathalie Dowgray, who is head of the ISFM, said its success is in no small part due to the support of RVNs.
“Collaboration with BVNA will be a fantastic step in our Cat-Friendly Evolution’,” she said.
VetPartners has announced the purchase of two practices in Spain as part of its continued expansion into the European market.
The UK-based veterinary group has acquired Praxia, one of Spain's leading veterinary practices, together with the Medican Veterinary Center in Madrid.
Based in Alicante, Praxia works with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Murcia and provides residencies in various specialities, including cardiology, diagnostic imaging, internal medicine, oncology and surgery.
The Medican Veterinary Center has an operating room with a team providing emergency, ultrasound, ophthalmologist, cardiologist and dental services.
VetPartners' operation and expansion into Spain is being overseen by vet and managing director Augusto Macias.
The Group first expanded into mainland Europe in 2019 with the acquisition of practices in Italy. It has since acquired practices in Switzerland, France, and Germany.
The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has announced that it will be hosting two sessions on mental health and wellbeing at the upcoming Webinar Vet Virtual Congress.
Launched in 2015 by the RCVS, the MMI aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of everyone in the veterinary team, including students and practice managers and is supported by representatives from key veterinary and veterinary nursing organisations.
This year, the MMI will be attending the 10th Webinar Vet Virtual Congress 2022 on 17 January. Taking place over six days (17-22nd), the virtual event is the world's largest online veterinary conference, and for the first time, all sessions are free to attend.
The first session will see Dr Claire Gillvray, a trained psychiatrist and general practitioner, talk about understanding the mind-body link and what we can learn from it. With more than 20 years’ experience in the NHS and private practice, Claire is also a qualified personal trainer and nutritionist and has an interest in the mental health of veterinary professionals.
Dr Gillvray will summarise the latest research into how we can support our mental health through diet, exercise, mindfulness, breathwork, talking therapies and anti-depressants. Her talk takes place on Monday, 17 January between 7 and 8 pm.
In the second session, Dr Catriona Mellor will speak on ‘Living with the climate crisis: What do we need to know about eco-anxiety, nature, wellbeing and resilience. Dr Mellor is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with an interest in the mental health impacts of climate change on children and young people.
Her talk, which also takes place on 17 January (8-9 pm) will explore the difficult thoughts and feelings linked to living in a time of climate and nature crisis, and what we can do for ourselves and each other to feel more resilient and optimistic.
“We are really pleased to be providing two speakers to give talks on the first day of the Webinar Vet conference on two very important and timely issues,” commented MMI manager Lisa Quigley. “I want to thank our speakers for sharing their expertise with the profession.
“I also want to thank the Webinar Vet Virtual Congress for recognising the challenging period that the veterinary professions have had and making this year’s sessions free to attend. I would encourage as many people as possible to register for the congress and seize the opportunity to hear from leading voices in mental wellbeing, as well as other key speakers in the veterinary sector.”
For further information about the congress and to register your place, visit thewebinarvet.com
Firms will use transgenic platforms for antibody discovery.
PetMedix has joined forces with Zoetis to develop new species-specific
animal monoclonal antibody therapies (mAbs) using its proprietary transgenic platforms.
Through the partnership, PetMedix will carry out discovery activities against a number of key targets, while Zoetis will have exclusive rights to develop and bring these therapies to market.
Having already brought three novel mAbs to market, Zoetis is a leader in companion animal antibody therapeutics, including fully species-specific antibodies.
PetMedix chief executive Dr Tom Weaver commented: "We are excited to be partnering with Zoetis. Bringing together our unique pet antibody discovery engine with their proven ability to not just develop antibodies, but also make them a commercial success, is set to be a winning combination."
While many technologies have been used to develop human therapeutic antibodies, 40 years of research highlights the benefits of antibodies which are 100 per cent species-matched to the patient.
PetMedix is looking to build on this success for companion animals. Its Ky9™ and Felyne™ platforms were developed in the same way as the leading human transgenic platforms. The collaboration also marks the third publicly-announced deal Zoetis has made with companies using transgenic platforms for antibody discovery.
Zoetis executive vice president and president Robert J. Polzer, said: "At Zoetis, we are committed to continuing our leadership to develop and discover new therapeutic antibodies that can help pets live longer, healthier lives. Collaborating with PetMedix complements our own research and development activities, and we are pleased to be working with them to explore areas of unmet clinical needs in pets."
Image (C) PetMedix.
The RCVS has launched an online learning hub to support the development of fundamental leadership skills within the veterinary professions.
The free-to-access Leadership Library aims to promote the importance of self-reflection during the learning process and encourage individuals to develop their leadership skills.
Open to professionals at any stage of their career, the hub contains veterinary sector-specific resources and curated non-veterinary content from an array of reliable sources.
Via interviews, videos, presentations, articles, blogs, and webinars, students can explore key leadership topics, including inclusive leadership, delegation skills and difficult conversations.
The RCVS Leadership Team plans to add more content to the library, and the profession will be encouraged to suggest topics they would like to study.
RCVS leadership and inclusion manager Gurpreet Gill commented: "In terms of veterinary CPD, importance often tends to be placed more on clinical and technical capabilities, but leadership skills are a critical aspect of every veterinary practice and organisation. It is vital that we encourage an understanding of leadership skills and behaviours to build this capacity within the professions."
She added: “It is also assumed that leadership is a condition of status or position, but this is not necessarily the case. Leadership is an everyday practice that is applicable to everyone, regardless of their role. The Leadership Library provides learning opportunities for anyone looking to develop and reflect on their leadership skills, which will also count towards the annual CPD requirement for both veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.”
The Leadership Library is available to access now at rcvs.org.uk
This year's event promises many firsts for the veterinary community.
Short-format lectures, interactive sessions and informative debates are set to be central to the 2022 BSAVA Congress, which is happening in Manchester for the first time.
Details of the new programme released by the BSAVA reveal the full extent of the event’s shakeup, which also includes ‘Day in the life of…’ dramas that will, through role-play, communicate the latest clinical research.
Taking place at Manchester Central over three days (24-26 March), the new-look event will see a move away from the traditional long-format lectures that have long-underpinned the Congress programme.
The event will also be taking a hybrid format, allowing delegates to attend both in-person and online, and providing all delegates access to a host of additional content.
BSAVA president Sheldon Middleton commented: "Congress 2022 represents many firsts for BSAVA. It’s the first hybrid event not just for the organisation but, I believe, the UK’s small animal veterinary community.
“It’s also the first time the event is being held in Manchester, and the first time we’ll have delivered CPD through the dramatisation of in-practice experiences.”
Programme committee chair Paul Higgs said the programme has been designed to provide the highest quality, independent CPD for practice managers, veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.
“While we’re covering the usual range of disciplines, from orthopaedics and ophthalmology to cardiology and canine medicine, the programme reflects our growing understanding of how individuals learn best, he said. “There are plenty of opportunities to get involved, to test newly acquired knowledge and get hands-on. For the first time, delegates will be able to drop in on practicals at no further charge.”
Mr Higgs added that instead of streams, this year’s Congress includes modules where the content builds, allowing delegates to dip in and out or follow a module from one session to the next.
“When it comes to making the most of what is on offer, delegates have a choice – they can either follow a module around Congress or pick their preferred learning style and stay in that relevant zone,” he said.
“Having said that, as a European Veterinary Specialist in Small Animal Internal Medicine, I’m drawn to the feline medicine: infectious disease module. On Thursday, for example, you’ll find me in Feline Infectious Peritonitis session - there have been some interesting developments on treatment options, and I’m keen to see how that relates to first opinion practice.”
To view the full scientific programme, visit bsavacongress2022/en/page/programme
Veterinary professionals are being urged to kickstart the new year by promising to make sustainability a priority.
The BVA says the profession has ‘a vital part to play’ in reducing its environmental impact and is calling on as many veterinary professionals as possible to commit to positive change.
Dozens of individuals signed up to the #GreenTeamVet pledges announced at London Vet Show in November, which include:
- To practise responsible resource use
- To be more sustainable in my operation
- To use medicines responsibly
- To empower my team.
BVA’s president Justine Shotton stressed that while pledging to sustainability may sound daunting, there are many simple ways to make an impact.
“We know how busy veterinary professionals are on a day-to-day basis and that the workforce is more stretched than ever before. But we also know that, when it comes to sustainability, even simple changes can really make a difference, and of course, the more people who take part, the greater the impact will be,” she said.
“You may decide to give yourself more of a challenge, but something as simple as promising to always recycle or to save resources by printing fewer hard copies really does make a difference. Even just telling your colleagues about your pledge and reasons for signing up helps to spread the word and encourages more people to do their part.”
Figures from BVA's 2021 July Voice of the Veterinary Profession Mini Survey found that 97 per cent of vets feel environmental sustainability is important, with 62 per cent saying it is very important to them. Despite this, fewer than half (47%) of vets said their workplace currently had any sustainability policies in place.
“Our research shows sustainability is already important to veterinary professionals, and the start of a new year is a great opportunity to put plans into action,” said Dr Shotton. “We urge everyone to take the time to talk about the issue within your practices – with your colleagues and with clients too - and to start 2022 off on a good note by promising to make positive changes, and then actioning them.”
To find out more and to sign the pledge, visit bva.co.uk/greenteamvet
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Welfare Research Foundation has awarded the University of Surrey's One Health Cardiology Research Group a grant of £180,000 to research the welfare of racehorses, and how to improve it.
Awarded to Dr Kamalan Jeevaratnam, who leads the One Health Cardiology Research Group, and Dr Rebecca Lewis, lecturer in physiology, the grant will be used to map out the entire equine cardiac ion channelome in healthy and diseased horses.
Researchers will map out the collection of proteins that govern all electrical activity of the heart using multi-omics and molecular pathology approaches This will help them to further understand sudden cardiac death in both equine and human athletes, and to identify potential molecular and anatomical targets for intervention.
Pro-vice-chancellor and executive dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the university, Professor Paul Townsend, commented on the grant: “We are pleased to have secured this grant which recognises the excellent One Health, One Medicine work the faculty does specifically in non-communicable disease research.
“It also showcases the wide international collaborative networks we have nurtured over the years that has resulted in some great ideas in non-communicable disease research.”
The free webinar will discuss testing best practice.
HORIBA is hosting a veterinary CPD webinar on raw feeding, parasite testing and control, and has invited veterinary surgeon Ian Wright to discuss testing best practice with regard to raw feeding.
Taking place on Thursday 27 January, the webinar is free to attend, and will begin at 7.30pm.
The webinar will discuss the importance of testing when feeding raw diets to reduce the risk of parasitic or bacterial threats to both pets and humans, and will further educate veterinary professionals on the pathogens and parasites associated with raw feeding, alongside which tests to use and when to use them.
Ian Wright, head of the European Scientific Council for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) UK and Ireland, who will share his knowledge on the subject, said: “The recent trend of increasing raw feeding opens up new opportunities for pathogen transmission.
“Where raw feeding is taking place, adequate tapeworm and protozoal parasite prevention is essential to reduce zoonotic risk and economic losses.
“Testing forms an essential part of their control, and understanding this role and the diagnostic test options available will prove valuable to all veterinary professionals.”
Following Ian's presentation, there will be an open Q&A session with him, and HORIBA's veterinary specialists will be available for further discussion and advice at the end of the webinar.
Further information and free registration is available here.