Outstanding vets and students honoured in WVA Animal Welfare Awards 2019

Now in its third year, the World Veterinary Association (WVA) Animal Welfare Awards, supported by Ceva, recognizes and rewards veterinarians from all round the world who have contributed in their daily lives to the protection and welfare of animals and in the provision of outstanding and exemplary welfare-related services to animals, animal owners, fellow veterinarians and the public.

The 2019 award ceremony took place during the 35th World Veterinary Association Congress on 28th April 2019 in San Jose, Costa Rica. This year, for the first time, Ceva and WVA, in collaboration with the International Veterinary Students’ Association (IVSA), have expanded the scope of the awards to include a new category to recognize the important contribution made by veterinary students in the field of animal welfare.

Winners, who were selected after thorough vetting of all the nominees by a WVA committee, came from the six WVA regions covering North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, North Africa/Middle East and Asia/Oceania, and in addition one outstanding veterinary student was also selected. As well as a certificate, each winner received a monetary award of 5,000 Euros.

I am very proud that as Chairman of Ceva we are again able to partner the WVA in supporting these important awards. Animal welfare is at the heart of everything Ceva does and, more and more, it has become a central societal issue. Its inclusion within the training of young veterinarians is key to improving global standards. I am therefore delighted that this year we have been able to expand the scope of the awards to celebrate and reward the contribution of an outstanding veterinary student.
Marc Prikazsky
Chairman & CEO of Ceva

The seven winners of the WVA Animal Welfare Awards for 2019 were:

Dr. Anthony Nsoh Akunzule | Ghana

Dr Akunzule is a champion of animal welfare, both in his home country of Ghana and on a global scale. His work spans different species – poultry, beef and dairy cattle, goats and sheep, and also companion animals.

In recent years he has pioneered welfare programmes for donkeys used for agriculture and transport, particularly in Ghana’s northern region. This has involved developing more humane harnesses and cargo carrying methods as well as providing advice on general health and nutrition for working donkeys.

He is actively mentoring young vets in Ghana, some of whom struggle to find employment once they have qualified at vet university. His work also influences government policy in Ghana related to animal welfare issues.

Dr Akunzule is also a veteran of the Pan-African Rinderpest Campaign which worked across Africa from 1986 to combat the deadly cattle plague known as rinderpest. The disease was eventually declared eradicated in 2011 – only the second infectious disease to be eradicated globally following that of smallpox in humans.

I am happy and honoured to receive this award and I will use it to further the cause of animal welfare both here in Ghana but also worldwide.

Dr. Parntep Ratanakorn | Thailand

Dr Ratanakorn began his interest in animal welfare at a young age, caring for animals that he acquired from local animal markets in Bangkok, where he lived. During his training as a vet, he led the way on animal welfare issues at his college at a time when the subject was not generally discussed in the faculty.

Later he provided health care and welfare services to confiscated wildlife belonging to Royal Forest Department which is now part of the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. He trained rangers and foresters on how to provide animal welfare in their wildlife breeding and rescue facilities and has particular experience working with elephants in captivity.

He went on to become Associate Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Mahidol University, Thailand. He is also active in numerous animal health organisations in his country and is a writer and speaker on animal welfare in publications and at international conferences.

The award will help me serve many species that are under threat in Thailand and create a young generation who will be responsible for animal welfare in the future.

Dr. Jose Peralta | USA

Dr Peralta holds the post of Professor, Animal Welfare, College of Veterinary Medicine, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, California. He has authored and co-authored many book chapters and articles (in English and Spanish) on various aspects of the science of animal welfare and animal welfare education and contributed to the way animal welfare is taught to veterinary students. He has presented and contributed to numerous veterinary continuing education seminars in several countries.

Dr Peralta is an internationally recognised and sought-after speaker on animal welfare and has presented invited seminars in Europe, South America and North America. He serves as a reviewer for several professional journals.

Recently Dr Peralta has been involved in a project looking at the field of welfare and human animal interaction with therapy dogs and children in collaboration with a child psychologist.

There’s no doubt that the exposure that this type of award gives you is beneficial to animal welfare. That external recognition provides opportunities to disseminate information and to have a broader impact worldwide.

Dr. Edilberto Brito Sierra | Colombia

Dr Brito is highly recognised and respected both in Colombia and in Latin America for his work in animal health and welfare. As Animal Welfare Focal Point for OIE in Colombia and through continuous work over several years, his career has contributed science-based support to develop the creation of the legal framework and regulations that can give a better quality of life to the animals in the country (especially to production animals), and in the region within the One Health and One Welfare framework.

He has worked in the Colombian Agricultural Institute from 1988 and has been Coordinator of the Safety in Primary Animal Production Group from February 2017 to the current date.

It’s an award that I hope will be given to more vets because it promotes animal welfare and shows that it is an important subject and it is therefore of fundamental importance to the development of future generations of vets

Dr. Jonas Watson | Canada

When he is not working at his job at the Tuxedo Animal Health Clinic in Winnipeg, Canada, Dr Watson can be found treating animals in remote indigenous communities in northern Canada and particularly in Manitoba, which are under-served by mainstream veterinary services. The programmes he supports operate alongside non-profit organisations such as the Save A Dog Network and often involve packing his veterinary equipment and supplies into small aircraft to fly into the communities where there is no access by road.

He took part in the ‘Mad Dog’ initiative in Madagascar which was aimed at reducing the problem of stray dogs and cats that threaten the wildlife population of the country. While he was there, he also organised training for local vets to improve their veterinary skills.

Dr Watson is the current President of the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association, a member of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Emerging Leaders Program and sits on several boards including the Canadian Animal Blood Bank and is vice-chair of the Winnipeg Humane Society.

It’s become a passion of mine to bring veterinary services to communities all over northern Canada, Manitoba and other parts of the world. People love their pets and it’s not that they need to learn more about veterinary services, it’s just that they need access to it.

Dr. Anette Van Der Aa | The Netherlands

Dr Anette van der Aa took the initiative, as a veterinarian active in the private sector, to join forces with respected veterinary organisations to improve the welfare of non-viable, sick and injured animals where euthanasia is the only option.

Together with a group of experts and stakeholders in pig health, animal welfare, ethics and pig production from Utrecht University’s Centre for Sustainable Animal Stewardship, the Royal Netherlands Veterinary Associations and the Dutch Pig Farmers Organisation (POV), she created a decision tool that guides users through different steps and measures to be considered for ‘animals in need of specific care’. Based on scientific literature and research, a simple and practical tool was created that enables users to decide whether a piglet has a chance to recover with appropriate care or needs to be euthanised.

To optimise the implementation and use of this decision tool for various types of users, not only veterinarians and farmers but also veterinary medicine students and pig farm employees, the decision tool is available in Dutch, English, French, Polish, Spanish and German. Besides that, illustrations are used which clearly and unequivocally depict the physical conditions that lead to specific decisions. In the near future, similar decision tools will also be designed for finisher pigs, sows and poultry.

In my work as a veterinarian, and I am sure that every veterinarian on Earth will sympathise with this, it has become clear that euthanasia has a huge impact not only on animal health but also on human health and that is why I wanted to get involved in this important subject.

Student Winner - Aimée Lieberum | Germany

The winner of the first student award is Aimée Lieberum.  Aimée is a student at the University of Leipzig Veterinary Faculty and developed an interest in animal welfare at a young age when she carried out voluntary work and fundraising for animal shelters near her home.

Aimée is an active member of the German national veterinary student association (BVVD) and is the head of their animal welfare group, where she organises regular discussion workshops on animal welfare with her fellow students.

She also actively promoted the 2nd IVSA Animal Welfare Conference jointly with the 4th BVVD Annual Animal Welfare Seminar. She was one of the main coordinators and organised the conference with the help of a small team of veterinary students. The conference was attended by national and international 120 students.

It’s sometimes quite hard to be taken seriously as students so I think this award is very important because it shows that vets really do acknowledge what I do and what we do as students on the subject of animal welfare and I really think this will make a difference in the future.

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