International Animal Welfare Training Institute

IAWTI Directors Message

Directors Message and Madigan Blog August 3, 2012

American College of Animal Welfare approved as a specialty by the American Veterinary Medical Association

It is with great pride and excitement that I am today announcing that after several years of effort by a international group of veterinarians with interest and expertise in animal welfare a new specialty college has been approved- The American College of Animal Welfare (ACAW). ACAW now joins the AVMA ranks with specialties and training programs in internal medicine, surgery, neurology, cardiology, and other disciplines. As a new diplomate in the college I now have the opportunity to serve as a mentor in the training of students and veterinarians in the science of animal welfare just as we provide training and experience in the other disciplines. The program is designed to provide detailed knowledge and above average competence in animal welfare in all species. Courses and materials that the candidates in the college must master include the ethics of animal use, physiological and psychological aspects of adverse states, examination of animal environments, the role of the veterinarian and the profession in in animal welfare, knowledge and understanding of welfare Issues, animal legislation and cruelty law, and further characterization and understanding of the human - animal bond. The training will also focus on the scientific basis for assessment of optimum animal welfare and developing the ability to perform critical analysis of scientific data related to animal welfare.. The candidates will have research projects which will help to answer some of the many existing questions and unknowns regarding specific areas of animal welfare concerns.

The anticipated outcomes for this specialty is further explained in ACAW materials: “Veterinarians educated to an advanced level in all aspects of animal welfare science and ethics will be uniquely positioned to step forward to provide the public, general veterinary practitioners, and other stakeholders with accurate information, advice, and advanced expertise concerning animal welfare questions and challenges— just as other board-certified veterinary specialists have done for generations on animal and public health issues. Much like other specialties, the field of animal welfare comes with its own scientific literature base. The college has identified more than ten peer-reviewed journals that publish animal welfare science exclusively, with an additional 90 plus journals publishing a substantial number of animal welfare-related scientific papers. In addition to the scientific journals, there are a number of ethical journals that devote considerable space to animal welfare concerns. And, there are multiple graduate programs around the world that are currently educating scientists in this field.

The Organizing Committee of the ACAW recognized that animal welfare interest and knowledge cuts across many disciplines of veterinary medicine. Thus, expertise was solicited from the breadth of the profession as the American College of Animal Welfare was formed. This breadth in training and educational requirements, as well as a focus on best practices used to develop the new animal welfare certification examination, will help ensure veterinarians who become ACAW diplomates have the expertise to understand the full scope of animal welfare issues. Board-certified veterinarians, specializing in animal welfare, will thus be able to not only continue to position the veterinary profession to be a major part of the total picture of animal welfare but will also advance the profession’s understanding of this important discipline. In addition, ACAW diplomates will be invaluable in the public policy arena. Animal welfare-related proposals cover topics as diverse as guardianship, confinement of pets in automobiles, housing (from dogs to laying hens), and reporting of animal abuse and domestic violence. As these issues arise, policy makers look to veterinarians for guidance. It is important that veterinary specialists with advanced training and education in animal welfare be available to interpret the scope of legislative issues impacting animal welfare decisions (and the stakeholders in those decisions) so that responses can be insightful, accurate and concise.”

You will be hearing more about this development which is a historic step for veterinary medicine to engage animal welfare at the highest level and play a leadership role.