The 3rd edition of the awards co-created by the World Veterinary Association (WVA) and Ceva Santé Animale (Ceva) promoted the international standards of animal welfare by rewarding 6 veterinarians and one veterinary student.

The Award ceremony took place during the 35th World Veterinary Association Congress on April 28 in San Jose, Costa Rica where the selected winners were invited to receive the WVA Animal Welfare Award and a monetary prize of 5.000 Euros.

The Global Animal Welfare Awards recognize and reward veterinarians who in their daily lives contribute to the protection and welfare of animals and have provided outstanding and exemplary welfare-related services to animals, animal owners, fellow veterinarians and the public.

Following the success of the WVA Animal Welfare Awards in 2017 and 2018, Ceva and the WVA in collaboration with the International Veterinary Students’ Association (IVSA) this year agreed to expand the scope of the awards by adding  a new category recognizing a veterinary student. Animal welfare is more
and more a central societal issue and its inclusion within the training of young veterinarians is key to improving global standards.

Background on the 2019 Global Welfare Award winners

Ghana
Dr. Anthony Nsoh Akunzule

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

In recent years he has pioneered specific welfare programs for the use of donkeys 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 to combat the deadly cattle plague known as rinderpest, which was eventually declared eradicated in 2011 - only the second infectious disease to be eradicated globally following that of smallpox in humans.

Speaking about his award, Dr. Akunzule said: “I am happy and honored to receive this award and I will use it to further the cause of animal welfare both here in Ghana but also worldwide.”

See the short video highlighting his work: https://youtu.be/iMWi_bPECNA
To see the full length video click here:  https://youtu.be/rZGc_fr0biY

Thailand
Dr. Parntep Ratanakorn

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 (RFD) which is now part of the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP). He trained rangers and foresters on how to provide wildlife 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.
Speaking about his award, he said: “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.”

See the video highlighting his work: https://youtu.be/UX7TzrirKHc

USA
Dr. Jose Peralta

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, animal welfare education and he has created several cases involving animal welfare for teaching 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 with collaboration of a child psychologist.

He said: ”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.”

See the short video highlighting his work: https://youtu.be/GWGI9u8b5YI
To see the full length video click here:  https://youtu.be/lJic9CboERY

Colombia
Dr. Edilberto Brito Sierra

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 and legal 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 (ICA) from 1988 and has been Coordinator of the Safety in Primary Animal Production Group from February 2017 to the current date. 

Speaking about his WVA Award, Dr. Brito said: “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.”

See the short video highlighting his work: https://youtu.be/cwz9-_nyCFA
To see the full length video click here: https://youtu.be/dMgsAovMJOw

Canada
Dr. Jonas Watson

When he is not working at his job at the Tuxedo Animal Health Clinic in Winnipeg, Canada, Dr. Jonas Watson can be found treating animals in remote indigenous communities in northern Canada and particularly in Manitoba, both regions of which are under-served by mainstream veterinary services. The programs he supports operate alongside non-profit organisations such as the Save A Dog Network and often involve packing up 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 but while he was there, he also organized 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 CVMA Emerging Leaders Program and sits on several boards including the Canadian Animal Blood Bank and is vice-chair of the Winnipeg Humane Society. 

He said: “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.”

See the short video highlighting his work: https://youtu.be/vWQE20NbHD0
To see the full length video click here: https://youtu.be/FgtlVDDSsz4

Student winner - Germany
Aimée Lieberum

This is the first year the WVA and Ceva have offered an award for a student veterinarian in collaboration with the IVSA.

The award winner, Aimée Lieberum, 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 BVVD, which is the German national student association and is the head of their animal welfare group, where she organizes 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 120 students; national and international.

Speaking about her award, she said: “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.”

See the video highlighting her work : https://youtu.be/GoyIwgIPI6E

The Netherlands
Dr. Anette Van Der Aa

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 on pig health, animal welfare, ethics, pig production from Utrecht University via Centre for Sustainable Animal Stewardship (CENSAS), the Royal Netherlands Veterinary Associations (RVNA) and the Farmers Organisation (POV), she created a decision tool that guides users through different steps and measures to be considered when speaking about ‘animals in need of specific care’. Based on scientific literature and research, a fairly simple and practical tool is created that supports the decision if a piglet has a chance to recover with appropriate care or needs to be euthanized.

To optimize the implementation and use of this decision tool for various types of users, including not only veterinarians and farmers but also veterinary medicine students, (non-Dutch speaking) pig farm employees, the decision tool is available in Dutch, English, French, Polish, Spanish and German. Besides that, illustrations are used which are clear and unequivocal, to show visually the physical conditions that lead to specific decisions. In the near future a decision tool will also be designed for finisher pigs, sows and poultry.

Speaking about the program and her award, Anette said: “In my work as a veterinarian, and I am sure that every veterinarian on Earth will sympathize 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.”
See the short video highlighting her work: https://youtu.be/dv_ZLhyARFM
To see the full length video click here:  https://youtu.be/wUxle6Q8IIo