Kelly Arthur

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About Kelly Arthur

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  • Region
    North America
  • Location
    Fort Collins, CO
  • Interests
    Dog Breeding
    Dog Health
    Education
    Research
    Dog Behavior
    Legal/Regulatory Issues
    Human-Dog Interactions
  • Expertise/Proficiencies
    Dog Health/Veterinary Medicine
    Welfare
    Education
  1. Thank you very much for the comment and link to a very interesting article Jim. Moving beyond just health and biological functioning, as Fraser described, to include the other spheres could provide both better welfare outcomes for patients and financial opportunities for veterinarians. Also neat that the paper cited the article by Shaw 2008. I am currently in a communications rotation right now with Dr. Shaw discussing some of these tough issues and learning tools to navigate them.
  2. I'm very proud to report that the Colorado State University Veterinary Animal Welfare Judging Team took first-place in the veterinary division at the international Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest (AWJAC) in November. Colorado State University (CSU) began competing with an undergraduate and graduate team in 2012. For the past three years, CSU's Veterinary School has also participated. This year, I coached the veterinary team with a fellow veterinary student, Angela Varnum. The competition, in existence since 2002, has continued to grow and hundreds of undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary students have competed. Increased participation is exciting as more students see the need to evaluate the complexities of animal welfare, including science, ethics, and philosophy. In preparation for the contest we studied journals and brought in species experts for the six veterinary students who competed. Through our preparation, we learned more about the welfare of breeding dogs, laying hens, guinea pigs, and meat sheep. As the veterinary team coach, I integrated what I learned in my IPFD project, A Veterinarian's Role in the Ethics and Welfare of Breeding Dogs, into our preparation. The resources created through IPFD proved very helpful for the students. More than 100 veterinary, graduate, and undergraduate students competed this year, representing 15 schools. The CSU Veterinary team competed against 9 other veterinary teams. CSU's graduate team also took first-place in the graduate division. The competition is supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association. For more information and how to participate, please see the AWJAC's webpage. Thanks again to the Skippy Frank Fund for supporting my IPFD project.
  3. Hope there is a growing movement to share this must-needed information. Thank you for the informative blog Brenda!
  4. Improving animal welfare is the basis of veterinary medicine. However, improving animal welfare can oftentimes be costly. A new consultation structure, PetWise MOTs, created by the UK’s leading veterinary charity, PDSA, is a step to overcoming these obstacles. PetWise MOTs can be used to improve pet welfare and generate additional revenue for practices. A review of the UK’s Animal Welfare Act in 2010 placed additional emphasis on veterinary involvement in promoting better pet welfare. The PetWise MOTs model was created because while clients value their pet’s welfare, they are often unsure how to improve it. The video below explains the development of the PetWise MOT concept. The five areas that are focused on in these appointments are good health, the ability of an animal to express normal behavior, availability of companionship, providing a safe environment, and feeding a suitable diet. During a PetWise MOT appointment, veterinarians are able to ask more in-depth questions of their clients that may not be able to be discussed during a normal visit. Using this structure, PDSA saw an up to 40% uptake of preventative medicine services and a 28% increase in treatment for problems that usually would go unnoticed with a traditional appointment. 100% of clients believed that every practice should offer this service. Through 2016 the introductory training course is free and there are still openings for the 13 December 2016 training course. Please comment if you know of other similar services or have experience with PetWise MOTs. Would love to hear from you!
  5. Interesting new article about the importance of continued animal welfare education throughout the course of veterinary study. Check it out if interested! http://jvme.utpjournals.press/doi/full/10.3138/jvme.0615-091R2
  6. Great article! Really elaborates on the complexities of breed standards.
  7. Veterinary school has started back up again but my interest in tough questions pertaining to the health and welfare of breeding dogs still remain... Deleterious traits exist in mixed breed, purebred, pedigree, and unknown origin dogs. Often with pedigree dogs, breed standards are frequently blamed for the existence of deleterious traits in breeding dogs. As this Wall Street Journal video states, there are traits of certain breeds, such as the bulldog, that lead to poor health outcomes. At the end they mention that revisions to breed standards may include how color can negatively impact a dog’s welfare. “A genetic assessment of the English bulldog” by Niels Peterson revealed that bulldogs have low genetic diversity and has brought about much discussion on the welfare of the breed. An opinion piece by David Sargan at the University of Cambridge suggests the “best way of breeding back to a less extreme skull shape would be to introduce dogs from outside the current breed registers.” The question then becomes, do traits like color or others, such as the degree of brachycephaly, have more of a welfare impact? Are breed standards to blame? What else influences a breed’s health and welfare? In addition, how do we categorize which changes would make more of an impact? Should it be based on animal’s affected or severity of disease? -
  8. Thank you very much for your suggestion, Jemima. I had a chance to listen to the webinar and I think a lot of useful information was presented. I enjoyed the citation from the RSPCA report that stated "All members of society have a moral and ethical obligation to overcome this problem." I have not been in contact with the UK vets but I'm hoping the materials developed from my projects are getting to various people working in this area. Additionally, the webinar discusses the influence of media, how people can make more educated decisions on dog breed acquisition, and how veterinarians need to be more involved in purebred dog welfare issues. All of these points are addressed in my my 2nd module "How Can You Promote Informed Decision-Making in Acquiring a Purebred Dog". Please feel free to share the materials on DogWellNet to get this information to various stakeholders.
  9. People often are enamored and proud of the close relationship they share with their pet. The video below features interviews with pet owners and shows the close bond humans have with various animals. However, pet ownership comes with responsibility and people should thoughtfully consider their options before getting a pet. B4UGETAPET, created by the University of Guelph, encourages people to do research before acquiring a cat or dog to find a best fit. Initial questions important for people to consider if they are thinking about acquiring a new pet are below. 1. What kind of pet is best for your family? 2. If a dog, what kind? 3. Why that kind of dog? 4. What is the best source for that kind of dog? During this project I have been amazed at the breadth of resources available to help people find the best dog for their lifestyle. The goal of this post is to organize these resources so veterinarians, veterinary students, and breeders have additional tools to advise people looking for a new dog. Promoting informed decision-making regarding acquisition of a dog may lead to better matching, retained ownership, and a closer human-dog bond. In addition to B4UGETAPET, there are numerous other resources to assist with dog acquisition. While they start with a general introduction, most resources have a slant towards re-homed dogs or breed-specific acquisition. The RSPCA’s Smart Puppy and Dog Buyer’s Guide helps you to be prepared, introduces different types of dogs, describes where to get your dog, and includes caring for your dog post acquisition. This source advises adopting from a local shelter and if you can’t find a dog there, breeders may be acceptable if they are not puppy farms. Similar is Finding Fido, a program by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. It includes inspiring stories of dog rescue, multiple pages on caring for a fido, choosing a puppy or adult, etc. The site strongly opposes puppy mills but provides some resources for finding a reputable breeder, such as Essential questions to ask a breeder. Other programs, such as ASPCA’s Meet Your Match, provides resources for shelters and rescue organizations so they can better match adoptable dogs and families in the hopes of decreasing return rates. Many other resources focus on matching a dog’s breed to an owner’s lifestyle. The American Kennel Club’s Find a Match program asks progressive questions about housing type, children, other animals in the house, and activity level of prospective owner. It then suggests breeds that match the answers provided. The Kennel Club (UK) also has a Puppy Buying Guide App that can help you select a dog including choosing a breed, what to ask a breeder, links to local breed clubs, etc. Purina’s Dog Breed Selector has fill-in-the blank questions to figure out what breed is best for a prospective owner. There are also interactive materials for people to use post-acquisition of a dog to maintain quality care. One example, is the Dog Log Book, an app that tracks your dog’s behavior and and suggests ways to better meet you dog’s needs. All of these resources seem to have the same goal in mind—improving the fit between dogs and their owners. However, in spite of these resources it seems that owner-dog mismatch is still an important contributing cause of relinquishment of dogs to shelters. As written in “Characteristics of Shelter-Relinquished Animals” some factors might include: Physical and behavioral characteristics of the animal Characteristics, knowledge, experience, and expectations of the owner Extenuating circumstances (e.g. income, owner health issues, housing changes) In the study they found that dogs that were younger, owned for a shorter time, intact, mixed-breed, obtained from a friend, pet store, or shelter, had behavioral issues (house soiling, destructive, fearful, or bit someone) were relinquished more often. A study supported by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy stated that the number one reason for dog relinquishment was behavior problems. A 2012 American Humane Association study on retention of pets adopted from shelters, stated dogs who had seen a veterinarian, had a 93% chance of retention six-months post adoption. For dogs that had not seen a veterinarian, only 53% were retained. While the study does caution that the data may be attributed to the fact that if someone is unsure they will keep an animal, they may not have taken it to a veterinarian before deciding. However, if this data could be validated in another study, this could show the importance of veterinary intervention in early human-dog connections. As a veterinary student we are educated on many resources that can help our clients, but questions still remain. Will our clients use the resources provided to them to inform their decisions? How many clients are coming to veterinarians before they purchase a dog? How do we find more effective ways to communicate with prospective puppy owners before they have the dog and become bonded? These questions point to a need for greater understanding of where people are getting their dogs. Good breeders carefully screen potential buyers to try to insure a good match. Those selling dogs from other sources – commercial breeders, questionable online sources, etc – may not be so careful. For a further look at some of the complex issues related to acquisition of a purebred dog, see the module “How Can You Promote Informed Decision-Making in Acquiring a Purebred Dog?”
  10. On July 14th, 2016, I had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Paul McGreevy, BVSc, PhD, University of Sydney professor, researcher, veterinary specialist in behavioral medicine and expert in companion animal welfare. The complex issues affecting the welfare and behavior of purebred dogs is one area in which Dr. McGreevy focuses his research. Below are some of the topics that we discussed and an example is provided to illustrate each point. 1. The benefits of health practices differ among species. So, in one setting a health practice may be acceptable as the standard of care and in another banned. The procedure of tail docking illustrates this point well. In the book, Dilemmas in Animal Welfare, the authors discuss tail docking in general and state, "as the acute pain can be controlled…and the absence of a tail has seldom been shown to disadvantage the animals greatly, a utilitarian analysis focusing on direct effects might conclude tail docking to be an acceptable procedure where demonstrable and significant benefits are obtained." (p. 21) The modern pork operation docks tails to protect the pigs from cannibalism, a behavior that occurs in intensive rearing systems. In this case, the acute pain of tail docking benefits the herd as a whole by reducing biting injuries and infection. Of course, there is growing evidence that tail-biting can be reduced with environmental enrichment and optimal management, so the surgical approach in pig production may eventually come to an end. The American Veterinary Medical Association opposes tail docking in dogs performed for cosmetic purposes. Canine tail docking in the UK has been banned since 2006, with certain exceptions for working dogs, and additional restrictions relative to dog shows. However, the situation is not consistent across countries and in the UK further changes are being sought by The Kennel Club. More information on tail docking in the UK can be found on the British Veterinary Association's Policy position: tail docking of dogs. In the end, tail docking may be appropriate for certain species in specific situations while not appropriate in others. Overall, the inconsistencies in species' welfare-related recommendations may call into question the profession's integrity, as mentioned in the article "How might veterinarians do more for animal welfare?" 2. Studying animal welfare is challenging because it is at the intersection of the sciences and social sciences. As animal welfare scientists, it is our charge to focus on animal well-being and health, while at the same time adopting optimal practices that are feasible within the constraints of the management system. Most standardized approaches to animal welfare focus on the animal specifically, but not necessarily how obtainable the goals are for veterinarians, breeders, and producers. For example, The Five Freedoms, originally written in 1965, emphasize "avoidance of unnecessary suffering and the provision of needs", including protecting animals from disease/pain, thirst/hunger, discomfort, fear, and allowing them to express natural behaviors. Although never intended to provide a checklist or to be equally weighted, they have attracted some criticism for being too ambitious or simplistic. David Fraser's adapted model of animal welfare focuses on the intersection of an animal's health, affective states, and natural living. While both of the above models have been influential in the development of animal welfare science, their implementation is challenged by other factors — such as productivity and profitability, the animal caretaker's well being, and management feasibility. By adopting a more integrative approach, we can develop ways to improve animal welfare — making it more accessible to the public, veterinarians, breeders, and producers and at the same time enhancing business outcomes. 3. Veterinarians can improve the welfare of breeding dogs. A case example is the critical role veterinarians play when performing cesarean sections on dog breeds that cannot deliver naturally. For these breeds, their biological fitness is reliant on a veterinarian's ability to surgically deliver the puppies. This highlights the need for continued work between breeders and veterinarians because, in the case of cesareans, the fate of the breed is dependent on us. Our training allows us to help the individual dog but are we perpetuating genetic problems? One article used breed club data to determine the "Proportion of litters of purebred dogs born by caesarean section". For the Boston terrier, Bulldog, and French bulldog, the rates of cesarean section were greater than 80%. Cesarean sections give veterinarians the opportunity to work directly with breeder clients, but in doing so are we providing adequate breeding advice in the form of genetic counselling? Do veterinarians receive proper training to educate clients? Are we even involved in these discussions with clients? 4. There can be unintended consequences in advancing animal welfare. An article on the challenges associated with pedigree dog health, explains that although the incidence of inherited disease can be decreased through the use of genetic tests and screening, if fewer animals are then in the breeding population, this can lead to the unintended consequence of reduced genetic diversity. Reducing the breeding pool, could result in the inadvertent outcome of enhancing inherited disease. It raises the probable need for outcrossing to other breeds. In addition, some breeds may not have enough genetic diversity in their population to correct some of the challenges with inherited disease. This is described in "A genetic assessment of the English bulldog". The study cites the small founder population and artificial bottleneck as causes for the lack of diversity. Additionally, selection for certain traits can have unintended consequences. One study describes the causative mutation for short-tailed dogs as heterozygous in a variety of breeds. The genetic basis of bobtails is of interest to breeders because of the perceived need for tail docking in certain breeds. However, this defect was shown in the study to decrease litter size, likely due to early embryonic death of homozygous animals. As a result of this conversation, I saw additional angles to the breeding dog debate and Dr. McGreevy provided insightful challenges related to purebred dogs that sparked my interest about further perspectives on animal welfare. By looking at these, and other animal welfare-related complexities from multiple angles, veterinarians can be more proactive in leading animal welfare discussions. Reference: Appleby, M.C., Weary, D.M., Sandoe, P. (2014). Dilemmas in Animal Welfare. Oxfordshire, UK: CAB International. For more information about Dr. McGreevy's educational platform developed for veterinary students, see: One Welfare Brachycephalic Dog Scenario Overview article on the One Welfare Platform Additionally, see the article published on welfare educational opportunities in the U.S. for additional ideas on how to get more involved in thinking about animal welfare. Photo source: http://www.hillspet.com/HillsPetUS/v1/portal/en/us/locale/img/about_us/HP_about_animalwelfare_section1_md.jpg
  11. Continuing with the initiatives of the IPFD Student Project, ‘A Veterinarian’s Role in the Ethics and Welfare of Breeding Dogs’, this interactive educational module was created entitled, “How Can You Promote Informed Decision-Making in Acquiring a Purebred Dog?” in collaboration with Jane Shaw, DVM, PhD, Colorado State University, and Brenda Bonnett, DVM, PhD, International Partnership for Dogs.
  12. Great you asked that! While that is a very large topic...my second module, which will soon be published, is on how a veterinarian can help influence people making more informed decisions on acquiring a new pet, specifically a new purebred dog.
  13. Thank you Dr. Leroy for your thoughtful comment. I have corrected the post to focus on inherited disease in general. As you pointed out, my project does not directly focus on brachycephalic dogs. For a more in depth look, feel free to check out the first educational module I created as a resource on the topic of inherited disease.
  14. Time of spay and neuter was the topic of the 2015 Colorado Veterinary Medical Association Big Ideas Forum that I attended (and Dr. Hart was one of 2 speakers). Part of the debate is that veterinarians have trouble agreeing on best time of spay and neuter because research can have conflicting results...especially if you bring specific breed considerations into the mix as well. http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.colovma.org/resource/resmgr/BIG_Ideas_speaker_presentations/Q&A_BIG_Ideas_Srping_2015.pdf
  15. In reading more about dog behavior for my project, characteristics such as head shape of dogs and how it can relate to behavior has made me think—are there other physical characteristics that we could look at to make inferences about an animal’s behavior? Dr. Paul McGreevy and others have published articles on how skull characteristics may be related to behavior. In a recently published article, researchers looked at various physical characteristics, including head shape, and correlated them to a behavior assessment involving unfamiliar humans, different stimuli, and various objects. Almost 70,000 dogs were assessed over the course of seven years. From the data, they were able to make some generalizations about dog behavior. For example, they found that shorter dogs tended to show more aggression while taller dogs were usually more playful and friendly. Generalizations were made in this study relative to breeds and sizes of dogs. Additionally, although the authors used a structured instrument, assessment of behavior is always somewhat challenging, but the trends are very interesting. For the past 20 years, leading cattle welfare expert, Dr. Temple Grandin, has asserted that hair whorls may have some genetic basis relating to behavior of cattle. While similar studies on the genetic influence of hair whorls in humans have been published, it is disputed whether it is purely Mendelian inheritance or more complicated. The research on hair whorls in various species has also translated to studies on dogs—from their anatomic basis to how they could be related to behavior. One study looked at the probability of a dog successfully becoming a Guide dog by looking at several factors, including hair whorls. While these unique physical measures show some relation to behavior, they are observed as part of a more comprehensive behavioral assessment. Looking at these characteristics alone should be observed with caution. Generalizations are challenging because of the extreme differences across dog breeds, even when researchers try to take these variations into account. In a previous article from 2012, “Breeding dogs for beauty and behaviour: Why scientists need to do more to develop valid and reliable behaviour assessments for dogs kept as companions”, the authors remind us that ‘Many dogs exhibit behaviours their owners consider undesirable and these dogs may cause disruption and injury to humans and other animals. As a consequence, many are relinquished to shelters.’ They go on to suggest that owner-dog (or we might say owner-breed) mismatch may contribute to the problem, especially if the owner’s interest is more on the appearance of the dog than other factors. ‘The measurement of behaviour and limitations of existing canine behaviour assessments are discussed’ in the article and the authors stress that more accurate assessments are needed. They also stress that behavior, as well as the changing roles of dogs, must be considered in the wider context of dog breeding. So, just to keep you thinking about the complex issues in ethics and welfare of breeding dogs, I wonder: Are there other characteristics beyond these that we should be considering when thinking about dog behavior? How is this incorporated into breeding healthy, happy dogs? Are veterinary students being well-prepared for all these issues? For up-to-date information on project my developments, see A Veterinarian's Role in the Ethics and Welfare of Breeding Dogs. In addition, please check out my first learning module: Introduction to the Module: What is Your Role in Addressing Inherited Disease in Purebred Dogs? ... and ... Stayed tuned for my next educational module looking at Supply and Demand of dogs which will highlight what we know and don’t know about how people choose their dogs and where those dogs come from. Skull Shape image credit: https://cdn.psychologytoday.com/sites/default/files/styles/image-article_inline_full/public/field_blog_entry_images/Dog head shapes.jpg?itok=edD7ujTW Whorl photo credit: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-hGoXIo019ic/UOUF0j8MhQI/AAAAAAAABTQ/_V-JO5GXntY/s1600/Whorls2.png