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Vets to play bigger role in animal welfare cases

Veterinarians at the New Zealand Veterinary Association conference in Christchurch will be asked to play a bigger role in reporting animal welfare cases, particularly on farms.

"Vets are in a good position, not only to follow up on cases, but also to be pro-active and deal with situations before they become major problems," says veterinarian Richard Wild of the New Zealand Food Safety Authority's Verification Agency (NZFSA VA).

Educating role
He says the conference is a good opportunity to remind all vets of the role they can play in educating clients and raising awareness of the animal welfare aspects of their farming operations. Veterinarians have a responsibility to mitigate animal suffering and, where necessary, to report cases of animal welfare abuse, says Charles Cadwallader of MAF Biosecurity New Zealand's animal welfare group.

Trained on animal welfare
"We now have a group of VA staff distributed across the North and South Island, trained in animal welfare investigations, who we can call on to help with on-farm investigations," says Charles. Their primary role will be to identify what's wrong with the animals in question and work with farm consultants to remedy it, ensuring that an animal health plan is in place before MAF leaves the farm. Their secondary role will be to carry out post-mortems and assist farmers to put farm management plans in place.

Last year 700 cases were reported to the animal welfare team and the majority of those relating to farm animals were reported by neighbouring farmers.

Related websites:
New Zealand Food Safety Authority's Verification Agency 
MAF Biosecurity New Zealand's animal welfare group

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