World Veterinary Association and Ceva Santé Animale announce the creation of the Global Animal Welfare Awards 2017

As global understanding and concern for animal welfare continues to change, so must the veterinary community evolve to embrace these changes and reflect societal expectations.


Animal Welfare is a core mandate of the veterinary community generally and of veterinarians individually. Veterinarians must be engaged, knowledgeable, and prepared to use their skills and expertise in Animal Welfare to assist and support animal caregivers, industry, policy makers and the public to ensure best practices are in place that promote good animal welfare.


As a result, the World Veterinary Association (WVA) is delighted to announce the creation of the Global Animal Welfare Awards 2017 co-founded and supported by Ceva Santé Animale.

The WVA Animal Welfare Awards aim to recognize and reward veterinarians who have provided outstanding and exemplary welfare-related services to animal owners, hostels, fellow veterinarians, and the general public. Each winner will have demonstrated best practices in their consistent commitment to improve and educate about the welfare of animals.


The Global Animal Welfare Awards 2017 will be presented to 1 selected veterinarian from each of the 6 WVA regions (North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, North Africa/Middle East and Asia/Oceania).

The WVA President, Dr René Carlson said; “The WVA applauds this partnership with Ceva Animal Health to recognize veterinarians from around the world for their efforts to improve animal welfare and eliminate animal suffering. Such recognition is not only important, it is necessary to bring continued awareness to the benefits of good animal welfare for animals, people, and society. It is well recognized that good animal care can have far reaching and positive benefits in a number of areas, including human physical and psychological health, social development, poverty and hunger reduction, disaster management and environmental sustainability.”


For Ceva Santé Animale, Dr. Marc Prikazsky Chairman & CEO said, “I am very proud that as Chairman of Ceva, we are able to accompany the WVA in the creation of these important new awards.; As a veterinarian, I have felt for some time, that the profession needed to bring welfare back to the centre of what we do. Animals contribute enormous value to our society and as veterinarians we have a pivotal role to ensure that their health and welfare is always a priority. I look forward meeting the inaugural winners of the Awards”.

The WVA Animal Welfare Awards Ceremony will take place in Incheon, Korea during the 33rd World Veterinary Congress where the winners will be invited to receive a monetary award of 5.000 Euros.


Developed New AI System That recognize The Pain of Animals


The researchers have developed an AI system which uses five different facial expressions to recognise whether a sheep is in pain, and estimate the severity of that pain. The results could be used to improve sheep welfare, and could be applied to other types of animals, such as rodents used in animal research, rabbits or horses.


Building on earlier work which teaches computers to recognise emotions and expressions in human faces, the system is able to detect the distinct parts of a sheep's face and compare it with a standardised measurement tool developed by veterinarians for diagnosing pain. Their results will be presented today (1 June) at the 12th IEEE International Conference on Automatic Face and Gesture Recognition in Washington, DC.


Severe pain in sheep is associated with conditions such as foot rot, an extremely painful and contagious condition which causes the foot to rot away; or mastitis, an inflammation of the udder in ewes caused by injury or bacterial infection. Both of these conditions are common in large flocks, and early detection will lead to faster treatment and pain relief. Reliable and efficient pain assessment would also help with early diagnosis.



Left: Localized facial landmarks. Right: Normalized sheep face marked with feature bounding boxes. Credit: University of Cambridge



As is common with most animals, facial expressions in sheep are used to assess pain. In 2016, Dr Krista McLennan, a former postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge who is now a lecturer in animal behaviour at the University of Chester, developed the Sheep Pain Facial Expression Scale (SPFES). The SPFES is a tool to measure pain levels based on facial expressions of sheep, and has been shown to recognise pain with high accuracy. However, training people to use the tool can be time-consuming and individual bias can lead to inconsistent scores.


In order to make the process of pain detection more accurate, the Cambridge researchers behind the current study used the SPFES as the basis of an AI system which uses machine learning techniques to estimate pain levels in sheep. Professor Peter Robinson, who led the research, normally focuses on teaching computers to recognise emotions in human faces, but a meeting with Dr McLennan got him interested in exploring whether a similar system could be developed for animals.


"There's been much more study over the years with people," said Robinson, of Cambridge's Computer Laboratory. "But a lot of the earlier work on the faces of animals was actually done by Darwin, who argued that all humans and many animals show emotion through remarkably similar behaviours, so we thought there would likely be crossover between animals and our work in human faces."


According to the SPFES, when a sheep is in pain, there are five main things which happen to their faces: their eyes narrow, their cheeks tighten, their ears fold forwards, their lips pull down and back, and their nostrils change from a U shape to a V shape. The SPFES then ranks these characteristics on a scale of one to 10 to measure the severity of the pain.


"The interesting part is that you can see a clear analogy between these actions in the sheep's faces and similar facial actions in humans when they are in pain -- there is a similarity in terms of the muscles in their faces and in our faces," said co-author Dr Marwa Mahmoud, a postdoctoral researcher in Robinson's group. "However, it is difficult to 'normalise' a sheep's face in a machine learning model. A sheep's face is totally different in profile than looking straight on, and you can't really tell a sheep how to pose."


To train the model, the Cambridge researchers used a small dataset consisting of approximately 500 photographs of sheep, which had been gathered by veterinarians in the course of providing treatment. Yiting Lu, a Cambridge undergraduate in Engineering and co-author on the paper, trained the model by labelling the different parts of the sheep's faces on each photograph and ranking their pain levels according to SPFES.


Early tests of the model showed that it was able to estimate pain levels with about 80% degree of accuracy, which means that the system is learning. While the results with still photographs have been successful, in order to make the system more robust, they require much larger datasets.


The next plans for the system are to train it to detect and recognise sheep faces from moving images, and to train it to work when the sheep is in profile or not looking directly at the camera. Robinson says that if they are able to train the system well enough, a camera could be positioned at a water trough or other place where sheep congregate, and the system would be able to recognise any sheep which were in pain. The farmer would then be able to retrieve the affected sheep from the field and get it the necessary medical attention.


"I do a lot of walking in the countryside, and after working on this project, I now often find myself stopping to talk to the sheep and make sure they're happy," said Robinson.



Materials provided by University of Cambridge. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


6 Veterinary Business Trends You Need To Know


here are many reasons to become a veterinarian, but having an easy job isn’t one of them. Veterinary practice owners face a number of challenges every day, and those inherent in practicing veterinary medicine are just one piece of the pie. They also must handle the difficult tasks related to owning and operating a small business. With so much day-to-day work, it can be easy to lose sight of the veterinary business trends that are shaping the industry. In this blog, we look at some of the trends that are changing the face of veterinary medicine and veterinary hospital ownership.

Student loan debt for veterinarians is at an all-time high.

Education costs have skyrocketed in recent years, and veterinary schools are no exception. The result: young veterinarians leave school saddled with debt. According to a recent article in DVM 360, the average monthly student loan payment for associate veterinarians is $530.  Because of this debt, younger veterinarians are reluctant to start their own practice: while half of “generation Y” veterinarians surveyed would like to run their own practice, only 39% said they had the financial means to do so.

Spending on pets is at an all-time high – but spending at veterinary practices is stagnant.

According to the American Pet Products Association, pet owners spent 55 billion dollars on their pets in 2013, and are projected to spend even more in 2014. The largest expenditures are food, supplies, and over the counter medicine. Veterinary care accounts for 14.37 billion of the total amount of money spent on pet care in 2013, projected to modestly increase to 15.25 billion in 2014.

Veterinarian job growth is expected to increase 27.6% in 2016.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the veterinary field is one of the fastest growing in the United States. Demand for new treatments such as hip replacements, blood transfusions and cancer treatments are helping to drive the increase.

Job growth for veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to increase by 41% in 2016.Keep up with veterinary trends by effectively marketing your practice.



While the veterinary care industry is growing, it’s the technician and technologist positions that are projected to have the largest increase in the next two years. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says this is because pet owners are becoming more affluent while the number of pets continues to grow, so technologists and technicians able to provide specialized services will continue to be in demand.

The key to practice growth: focus on cats.

According to a study by Dr. Karen Felsted for the American Veterinary Medical Association, cats represent 80% of clinic growth potential. While there are 13% more cats than dogs, cats visit veterinarians 30% less and cat owners tend to spend less on veterinary care. The AVMA study says that cat owners need to be educated on the value of veterinary care, and veterinarians should keep in mind that the lifetime value of cats is likely higher than they think.

Many veterinarians aren’t using important business strategies.

Felsted’s study says that 62% of veterinarians aren’t using financial concepts to run their business, and many do not review key metrics on a regular basis. Increasing prices is most commonly used to increase profits, which can alienate existing clients. The Small Business Administration recommends that small businesses (veterinary hospitals are not an exceptions) dedicate 7-8% of their overall budgets to marketing. Effectively marketing your veterinary practice can lead to sustainable growth.


Posted by Chris Sink in Industry Trends

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