The Pre-Veterinary and Animal Welfare club (PAW) at UBC is hosting its sixth annual Animal Welfare Conference today, Friday, March 25, at the Performance Theatre in the Nest from 2–5 p.m.
The club, as the name suggests, is centered around two main aspects: compiling resources for students in veterinary sciences, and animal welfare in general. Despite the club’s focus on veterinary science students, it welcomes students from all faculties.
“We cover everything, from the non-science-y to the more scientific stuff,” Sarah Meltzer, the co-president for the pre-veterinary part of the club, told The Ubyssey.
Each year, the club invites 4–5 prominent academics and researchers excelling in the field of animal welfare to share their knowledge on a particular topic in their animal welfare conference. This year’s topic is Animal Sentience and Cognition: Reframing our Communication with Animals.
In an interview with The Ubyssey, a representative of UBC PAW, Bria Anderson, mentioned that the inspiration behind the theme of this year’s conference came from the need to consider how animals think, feel and behave.
“Understanding [animals] social relationships with humans is an important step towards reframing our communication with them on a cognitive level,” Anderson said.
The lineup of speakers for this year's event consists of three Canadians, Dr. Dan Weary, Alice Ayers and Hannah Griebling — and two international speakers — Alexis Devine and Dr. Alison Vaughan. The Canadian panelists are spread out between UBC and SFU.
As a land and food systems professor at UBC, Weary’s research is focused on dairy cow cognition and he is working to develop treatments that will help us better understand and treat livestock. Ayers is a master’s student at SFU in the cognitive and neural science programme whose research centres on how rat cognition compares to human cognition. Griebling, a PhD candidate under Dr. Sarah Benso at UBC’s biology department, has research interests that include exploring the behavioural and cognitive traits that affect many aspects of the ways in which wild raccoons adapt to living in urban areas.
There are also two international speakers.
Devine, from Washington state, found social media fame through sharing how her dogs, Otter and Bunny communicate with her by using buttons on her TikTok account “whataboutbunny.” Vaughan, a UBC alum from New Zealand, works as a scientific officer at the SPCA New Zealand. Her research focuses on the ways technology can be used to reduce the environmental impact of farming, including potty training cows.
For more information about the event and ticket availability, check out @ubcpaw.