Purdue University Center for Animal Welfare Science Holds Its Inaugural Symposium

HSVMA Launches Listing of Animal Welfare Events

Animal welfare issues have grabbed the attention of the public, who has become increasingly more vocal in expressing their concerns, and remain on the forefront of many veterinary professionals’ minds. Educational opportunities like the one presented at the Center for Animal Welfare Science provide a platform for discussion and lead us closer to addressing and resolving animal welfare concerns. Because of the key role that education plays, the HSVMA has launched a new feature on our website listing upcoming animal welfare educational opportunities across the nation and beyond. Check it out»

June 26, 2015
by Susan Krebsbach, DVM, HSVMA Veterinary Advisor

The Center for Animal Welfare Science (CAWS) at Purdue University was formally established in 2014 and, under the leadership of its director, Dr. Candace Croney, held its first symposium on May 21, 2015. The event was not only a celebration of the establishment of CAWS, but an opportunity to cover a wide breadth of animal welfare topics with participants from diverse backgrounds.

The inspiration for the symposium came from the desire to examine why animal welfare is a matter of growing public concern and why it is important to put science in the appropriate context to help resolve socially-contentious animal welfare issues. After an enthusiastic welcome from Dr. Croney, the floor was turned over to Dr. Bernie Rollin for the keynote address. Dr. Rollin, a well-known philosopher about animal welfare and ethics, gave a presentation entitled Contexting Current Societal Debates about Animal Welfare. An important point he stressed was that animal welfare will determine what is good science, not vice versa. Dr. Janice Swanson, chair of the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University, discussed the role of animal welfare in sustainability, highlighting the results of the Laying Hen Housing Research Project conducted by the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply. Dr. Chris Wolf, also from Michigan State University, made the case for the heightened concern about animal welfare issues by reviewing several different surveys on public and producer perceptions. There was also a presentation on how genomics could be used to address societal issues regarding housing and care of animals.

Corporate representatives from McDonald’s, Merck Animal Health, and Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation were part of a panel presentation outlining how industry is attempting to address animal welfare concerns. Dr. Joseph Garner, an internationally-recognized expert in the behavior and welfare of laboratory mice, reviewed the variety of contributing factors of animal trials that lead to poor validity. and promoted the need to adopt methods and models that are highly specific (i.e., those that can identify true negative results).

After a break to review graduate student poster presentations, companion animals took center stage for the rest of the afternoon. Dr. Alan Beck, a specialist in animal ecology from Purdue University, gave a presentation entitled Biology of the Human-Animal Bond: Why Do Our Interactions with Animals Matter?, featuring the numerous health benefits of animal companionship. Welfare problems of dogs was addressed by Dr. James Serpell from the University Pennsylvania. He proposed that the canine welfare debate be framed somewhat differently than the typical “overpopulation” of unwanted animals and the prosecution of instances of animal abuse or fighting. Dr. Serpell suggested that the welfare issues are an ongoing series of problems that begin with inappropriate breeding practices and continue throughout the lifecycle of the dog (e.g., effect of early environment, quality of life, breaking of the human-animal bond, etc.). A representative from IAMS presented on companion animal research and efforts to balance science, welfare, and public perception.

For more information about the Purdue University Center for Animal Welfare Science, visit their website at