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Promoting and protecting Welsh vets

BVA Welsh Branch hosted a suite of important meetings between 22 and 24 June, promoting and protecting the roles of vets in Wales, writes Megan Knowles-Bacon, BVA policy officer and BVA Welsh Branch secretariat.

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Committee vacancies 2020 - your chance to get involved

We have a number of vacancies for motivated and committed individuals to join our groups and committees. If you’re passionate about the veterinary profession and care about its future, then joining one of our committees is the perfect way to contribute and make a real difference.

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BVA Scottish Branch hard at work

Over the past few months BVA Scottish Branch has been hard at work to ensure the veterinary voice is heard during the Covid-19 pandemic, writes Hayley Atkin, BVA policy officer and BVA Scottish Branch secretariat.

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A seal of approval for the Delphi animal welfare study

We’re delighted that this month Vet Record is publishing the full peer-reviewed Delphi research project on priority animal welfare issues in the UK. Charlotte Raynsford, BVA media officer, urges BVA members to take a look.

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Do you know an inspirational young vet?

Nominations for the 2020 BVA Young Vet of the Year Award, supported by Zoetis, are now open.

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Celebrating Pride all year round

The Pride marches may have been postponed due to Covid-19 but as a profession we can still celebrate Pride, raise awareness of LGBT+ issues and promote equality. To mark London Pride weekend, BVLGBT+ organised a virtual Pride 2020 with talks, performances and activities. BVA President Daniella Dos Santos Zoomed in to join them and give BVA’s support.

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Meet friends and get support

Jenna Riley is a representative for the BVA Young Vet Network group in Hertfordshire and encourages all young vets to join their local group.

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Volunteering taught me to rely to my knowledge and my skills

Vet nurse Ellie Paton is a neurology/wards nurse. She joined the charity Worldwide Veterinary Service to do voluntary work and found the experience she gained enhanced her nursing skills.

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Scott Kilpatrick has been appointed head of medicine at Wear Referrals in County Durham. He is a European and RCVS veterinary specialist in small animal internal medicine. Having graduated from Edinburgh vet school in 2007, he initially joined the PDSA in Glasgow as a locum, which he says was one of the best decisions he ever made. Over the past 13 years he has studied and lectured all over the world.

Ricardo de Sousa, a diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons and a European specialist in small animal surgery, has joined Hamilton Specialist Referrals in Buckinghamshire. Originally from Portugal and having worked in Barcelona, he came to the UK in 2008 and has worked in a number of referral centres and universities. He is interested in all aspects of surgery, but has a particular interest in total joint replacement.

Ricardo Fernandes, also originally from Portugal, has been...

Categories: Journal news

Focusing on animal welfare

It is a fundamental irony that the UK proclaims to be a nation of animal lovers, yet tolerates an unacceptable amount of animal harm either wilfully or through ignorance.

Three years ago the BVA published a list of all the key animal welfare problems in the UK. It found 120, ranging from solitary living for rabbits, enforced group living in cats, and lameness in cattle and sheep.

But where should legislation, research and educational effort be focused to tackle these welfare issues? With so many, how can you prioritise?

This week Vet Record publishes a paper that attempts to answer that question. Funded by the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF), a team of welfare researchers at Edinburgh university set about determining the welfare priorities for the most common farm and companion animals in the UK.

They identified more than 650 welfare issues and then asked welfare experts to score them...

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Puppy prices soar in Covid-19 lockdown

By Georgina Mills

Prices for puppies have skyrocketed during lockdown, with some now more than four times higher than usual.

The trend has prompted concern from vets and animal welfare experts.

An internet search carried out by Vet Record found Labradors for sale at £3000 per puppy, cavapoos priced at £5000, and French bulldogs advertised at £7000 each.

The usual price for a French bulldog is in the region of £1500–£2000, a quarter of the current top going rate.

The price increase is thought to be due to unscrupulous breeders capitalising on a rise in demand for puppies while the UK has been in lockdown due to Covid-19.

New figures from the PDSA and released by the Brachycephalic Working Group (BWG) show that Google searches for ‘buying a puppy’ increased by 175 per cent in just one month of UK lockdown compared to the average.

Puppy searches on the...

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Insurance premiums for brachy breeds are highest

Brachycephalic breeds can cost pet owners four times more to insure than other dogs.

That is the finding from a review of pet insurance costs by Glasgow university and vets at the Veterinary Policy Research Foundation.

Their study compared health insurance premiums for 14 popular UK dog breeds in 2019.

They asked three major pet insurers – Agria Pet Insurance, Petplan and RSA UK (which together cover 75 per cent of the UK market) – to provide quotes based on identical specifications (lifetime cover for a male dog at the ages of 14 weeks, four years and seven years, living at a north-west postcode with a £100 excess).

They found French or English bulldogs cost in excess of four times more than the cheapest breeds to insure (chihuahua and shih tzu). The pug and German shepherd dog were the next highest, with premiums around double those of the cheapest...

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Breeding for miscommunication?

Anthropocentric breed selection may have hampered the ability of some types of commonly kept companion animals to communicate with people.

That is the theory put forward by Lauren Finka, a welfare specialist and postdoctoral researcher at Nottingham Trent University, at the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare conference last month (30 June).

Finka, who has researched facial diversity in cats, told delegates at the virtual event that selective breeding had altered some cats’ faces so dramatically that it had become difficult to accurately read their expressions.

She said the rise in popularity of ‘paedomorphic, or human infant-like’ features in some companion species had potentially wreaked havoc with people’s ability to accurately interpret these animals’ internal emotional states. Examples of paedomorphic faces could include the faces of some brachycephalic dogs and cats.

In some cases, she said animals appeared to have been selected for facial features indicative of an emotional state...

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New agriculture commission launched

By Josh Loeb

The government has announced the establishment of a new Trade and Agriculture Commission – a move seen as a concession to campaigners worried about British farmers being undercut in post-Brexit trade deals.

The body will only be advisory

International trade secretary Liz Truss (pictured right) announced the development on 29 June, saying that the body would be an advisory group that the government would consult when drawing up policies for new free-trade agreements and identifying fresh export opportunities.

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president Minette Batters welcomed the commission, calling it ‘hugely important’.

She added: ‘We look forward to working with government and other stakeholders...on the commission’s terms of reference, to ensure that its work is genuinely valuable.

‘In particular, it will be vital that parliament is able to properly consider the commission’s recommendations and can ensure the government implements them effectively.’

The BVA also welcomed...

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'Guarantee UK standards will be protected, says RSPCA

The RSPCA has written to Defra to ask it to put in writing its pledge to not scrap or amend existing legislation that prevents substandard agricultural products from being imported into the UK.

Chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-injected beef and dairy products from animals that have been given the growth hormone bovine somatotropin are all barred from entering the UK under legislation inherited from the EU.

However, the charity fears that, because the trade ban may conflict with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules – because such a ban is regarded by the WTO as not necessarily evidence based – these protections could be scrapped after the UK leaves its current trading arrangement with the EU on 31 December.

In its letter, the RSPCA called on the government to give a ‘cast-iron guarantee’ that it will keep in place, unamended, a vital piece of legislation called the Specific Food Hygiene (Regulation (EC)...

Categories: Journal news

RCVS survey shows an improving picture

By Georgina Mills

New findings from the RCVS show an improving picture for the veterinary profession, with a marked increase in practices running a ‘near normal’ caseload.

32 per cent of practices are now seeing a near normal caseload

Reporting on its third Covid-19 survey, which was carried out between 12 and 16 June, the college found that while the majority of practices (58 per cent) were still seeing a ‘reduced caseload, including some routine work’, 32 per cent were now seeing a near normal caseload – this is 29 per cent higher than reported in a survey carried out in May.

Furthermore, some 6 per cent of practices reported being back to ‘business as normal’.

When looking at turnover, 45 per cent of practices reported that their takings were reduced by 26–50 per cent when compared to pre-Covid levels, while 7 per cent reported takings had reduced...

Categories: Journal news

New Day 1 competences

The RCVS has published a new set of Day 1 competences that describe the knowledge and skillset vet graduates are expected to have upon qualifying.

The new ‘competency model’, which was developed following feedback from the profession as part of a consultation, is geared towards professional (‘non-technical’) skills as much as the technical aspects of veterinary work.

Effective communication, relationship-building, reflective practice and business acumen are among the areas where graduates are now expected to show competence.

RCVS council member Stephen May, who led the RCVS working party on graduate outcomes, said the changes were intended to adjust a mismatch between graduates’ expectations and the reality of working in practices.

‘One of the key findings of the Vet Futures project...was that a significant reason why new graduates sometimes felt disengaged with and disappointed by life in clinical practice, was the divide between the technical aspects of what they learned...

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Talking politics with a veterinary MP

Neil Hudson is a newly elected MP for the Conservatives and the first vet elected to parliament since 1884. Josh Loeb caught up with him to chat about his plans to champion animal welfare

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LWP update 1: assuring practice regulation

Over the next few months, we will be hearing more detail about the key recommendations contained in the recent report of the RCVS Legislation Working Party (LWP), from some of those who were directly involved in making them. To start, lay member of RCVS council Claire McLaughlan discusses the LWP’s recommendations around the principle of assuring practice regulation.

Categories: Journal news
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