Tickets now on sale for the Animal Welfare Foundation’s Discussion Forum

Charity’s annual flagship event is back in May

The annual Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) Discussion Forum returns on Monday 13 May for a day of topical discussions on key animal welfare issues and challenges.

AWF’s flagship event, the Discussion Forum is a cornerstone of the veterinary calendar, offering a unique platform where evidence-based scientific research meets conscientious debate, and expert insights and informed discussions drive positive change for animal welfare.

Taking place at a brand-new venue, the Cavendish Conference Centre in London, this year’s Discussion Forum will focus overall on the concepts of animal welfare, ethics, and rights. There will be a total of four sessions throughout the day, with one session specifically exploring those concepts, and three other expert panels focusing on euthanasia, insect welfare and animal behaviour.

Animal Welfare, Ethics and Rights

AWF’s first session will get to the heart of what the concepts of animal welfare, ethics and rights mean; from a scientific and legal point of view; how they overlap and interact with each other; whether rights necessarily imply better animal welfare; and whether the veterinary and welfare community should be advocating for animal rights.

This discussion, which will be chaired by Madeline Campbell, Professor of Veterinary Ethics, School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at Nottingham University, will lay the groundwork for the following sessions, putting into perspective the complexities and challenges of safeguarding and improving animal welfare in the UK.

Expert speakers for this session include Dr Sean Wensley, Past AWF Trustee, Past BVA President and now Senior Veterinary Surgeon for Animal Welfare and Professional Engagement at PDSA; Angus Nurse, Professor of Law and Environmental Justice at Anglia Ruskin University; and Dr Steven McCulloch, Senior Lecturer in Human-Animal Studies.

Euthanasia: “Better a day too early than a day too late?”

Reasons for delayed euthanasia are complex and difficulties in decision-making impact veterinary professionals, companion animal owners and the animals themselves. A second session will help delegates understand the issue of delayed euthanasia and learn how a team approach using decision-making tools can lead to better welfare.

Chaired by Dr Polly Taylor, Director of Topcat Metrology Ltd, the panel will include Peter Sandoe, Professor at the University of Copenhagen, Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences; Kelly Eyre, Clinical Lead at Royal Canin Feline Healthy Ageing Clinic; Roxane Kirton, Head Vet of Equine at RSPCA; and Suzen Gregersen, owner and founder at Vets2Home.

Animal Behaviour: not just a problem      

This session will look at how animal behaviour is a critical, yet often overlooked, indicator of animal welfare and will aim to give the audience a deeper understanding of animal behaviour and how this knowledge can be applied to effectively meet an animal’s needs and improve their welfare.

The audience will hear from Jo Hockenhull, Head of Research at The Donkey Sanctuary; Marian Dawkins, Professor of Animal Behaviour at the University of Oxford; Nikki McLeod, Consulting Registered Veterinary Nurse at Albavet Dunfermline; and Carrie Tooley, Veterinary surgeon at Behavioural Referrals veterinary practice.

Insect welfare

The global Insects as Food and Feed (IAFF) industry currently farms over a trillion individual insects a year and is growing rapidly. However, there remains a lack of policy and regulation over the use of insects in food farming, as well as a gap in knowledge and understanding of insect sentience.

Speakers on this panel will explore the current state of play in insect sentience and what is at stake in insect farming across the world. It will help veterinary and animal welfare professionals understand their role in protecting the welfare of insects used in food production and how the veterinary and animal welfare professions can positively impact the quality of production, regulatory compliance, public perception and the overall success of insect farming as a viable source of food.

The speakers for this session are Meghan Barrett, Assistant Professor of Biology at Indiana University in Indianapolis and Director of the Insect Welfare Society and Jonathan Birch, Associate Professor in LSE’s Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, specialising in the philosophy of the biological sciences. 

There will also be updates on AWF-funded research on the overarching theme of “Breeding for Better Welfare” and the lightning talks, which were introduced last year, will be back by popular demand. The event will be followed by an evening reception for attendees to network with some of the speakers and panellists as well as other veterinary and animal welfare professionals.

This CPD event promises to be the perfect platform to connect with top animal welfare and veterinary experts, learn about the latest animal welfare research developments and grow as a professional.

Chair of the Animal Welfare Foundation Julian Kupfer said: “The Animal Welfare Foundation Discussion Forum continues to be a unique platform to inspire and drive positive change in animal welfare. The exchange of ideas, knowledge and subsequent debate that is the raison d’être of the forum is invaluable and something I have not seen anywhere else. Once again, the diversity of topics and expert voices on the panels promise thought-provoking conversations and insightful debates, with the shared aim of pushing for higher standards of animal welfare in the UK.  By attending the Discussion Forum, you play a crucial role in helping us shape the future of animal welfare so join us at the Cavendish Conference Centre this year and together, let’s make a lasting impact.”

British Veterinary Association Senior Vice President Malcolm Morley added: “The Animal Welfare Foundation Discussion Forum is a hidden gem in the veterinary CPD calendar and every year it provides an opportunity for debate on key issues and concerns in the animal welfare and veterinary sector. With sessions covering topical subjects including euthanasia, animal behaviour, and insect welfare, discussions are sure to be lively and continue into the evening reception, which is also a brilliant opportunity to network with other professionals. It’s also the chance to hear about some of the fantastic work that AWF, which is BVA’s charity, is doing and find out the latest updates from across the sector. We look forward to seeing you there in May.”

Standard tickets are priced at £135, which includes lunch and the evening reception, with concessions available for students, recent graduates and veterinary nurses. To buy tickets and for more information about the programme and speakers, visit:

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