Conference tackles issues in animal welfare

The first UBC Animal Welfare Conference was put on by the UBC Pre-Veterinary and Animal Welfare Club (PAW). 

The conference provided a space for people to discuss and learn about initiatives to combat animal welfare issues such as the “Five Freedoms” toward animal welfare. 

“This conference is important because it is talking about current issues within the food system,” said Taryn Koreman, president of PAW and a member of the conference organizing committee. “Everyone is connected to the food system and I think everyone can benefit from learning a little more about it.” 

The scope of the conference expanded, thanks to the land and food systems' applied biology program and the animal welfare program, where it was able to grow from a club-held event to a conference. The executives from PAW were able to contact “experts within the field of animal welfare, each with a different perspective,” according to Koreman. 

Featured speakers included Dr. David Mellor, Dr. Jennifer Walker, Leanne McConnachie and Dr. David Fraser. They covered current animal welfare issues within our food industry, specifically in regards to academic, policy, industry and consumer perspectives. 

Mellor, a professor at Massey University in New Zealand, focused on fetal and neonatal physiology, livestock slaughter and bioethics as it applies to animal welfare. Walker — Dean Foods’ director of dairy stewardship who has a background in animal sciences and veterinary preventative medicine — has helped educate the public on animal welfare and veterinary ethics. McConnachie, current vice-president of the Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, is responsible for Chicken OUT! — a campaign which has improved the quality of life and well-being for millions of egg-laying chickens. Lastly, Fraser, a professor in the animal welfare program at UBC, works with various organizations such as the World Organization for Animal Health to improve the lives of animals. 

Students had a chance to network with the speakers at the end of conference.

“We were just a group of students with shared interests and a big idea. It has been a lot of work, and has at times conflicted with work and school, but to see it all coming together is an amazing feeling,” said Koreman. 

The Animal Welfare Conference took place on March 17 at the Nest’s Bukhman theatre.