Purdue Animal Well-being Tips
Animal well-being efforts becoming more diverse and popular
This tipsheet has story ideas on animal well-being activities at Purdue University,
part of a national trend. In particular, efforts focusing on dog and cat behavior
are becoming more common. Efforts and programs range from grief counseling for owners
who have lost pets to studies of wild animals in the suburbs, from graduate-degree programs
in animal behavior to studies on improving living conditions of production animals.
Tufts University, the University of California-Davis and Purdue are among the most
active of North American universities in animal well-being.
Purdue has several initiatives in various stages that relate to animal well-being.
Some are among the first of their kind in the country.
Contact information for faculty from Purdue and other universities is listed at end
of this tipsheet. Photos and/or news releases, available with all tips, may be obtained from Purdue
News Service, (765) 494-2096.
Center studies production animals on their own turf
Concerns about how animals are raised and used for food has prompted the creation
of a research center that will look to the animal to help define its own well-being.
The Center for Research on Well-Being in Food Animals is a partnership between Purdue's
School of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research
Service. Center scientists are developing ways to measure animal well-being objectively
through such indicators as heart rate, blood pressure, immune-system responses and
hormone secretion. The scientists also want to be able to differentiate between good
stress and bad stress. For example, blood pressure and heart rate go up when an animal
is mating or is exposed to a nonthreatening change of scenery, but that doesn't necessarily mean the animal is distressed.
New clinic to focus on dog-behavior problems
About 40 percent to 60 percent of the roughly four million to five million dogs that
end up in U.S. humane shelters each year are destroyed, with a significant number
of them surrendered because of behavior problems. "Bad behavior is the No. 1 killer
of dogs in this country," says Professor Alan Beck, an authority on the interaction between
people and animals. To help reduce that statistic, Purdue's School of Veterinary
Medicine will have an Animal Behavior Clinic in operation by the end of this year.
The clinic will conduct studies on the causes and treatment of dog behavior problems, provide
continuing-education programs for veterinarians and educational materials for dog
owners, and develop behavior courses for the school's curricula.
Purdue breeds less feisty chickens
After 12 years of effort, Purdue researcher William Muir has bred a kinder, gentler
chicken that co-exists peacefully with other chickens in multiple-bird cages found
in most egg-production facilities. Applying the principles of population genetics,
Muir was able to breed a chicken that exhibits less cannabalism, doesn't have to be beak-trimmed
and produces more eggs than its commercial counterparts. Despite a fire that destroyed
most of his flock in March, Muir vows to replicate the work in three years. He was able to start a new flock with birds he got back from a company that was testing
his line on a commercial scale. He plans eventually to cross those with a line he
recently received from Canada in pursuit of a more passive layer hen.
Center studies the bond between people and animals
Established in 1982, the interdisciplinary Center for Applied Ethology and Human-Animal
Interaction focuses on the interrelationships among people, animals and the environment.
For example, the center is concerned with such issues as how people and animals affect each other psychologically and physiologically and the use of animals as health
sentinels to detect environmental hazards to people. Activities include seminars
on animal welfare and human-animal interaction, a course on news media coverage of
animal issues, and a course on the ethics of biomedical research. Ethology is the study
of animals in their natural habitats.
Program gives animals fair share of care
Purdue's School of Veterinary Medicine put animal care-giving in the spotlight when
it implemented in 1991 the first undergraduate animal-welfare program in the country.
Students may earn a certificate in animal welfare, focusing on the humane care and
management of farm, laboratory, pet and zoo animals. Professor Alan Beck says graduates
of the program are better equipped to educate animal owners, consumers, scientists
and legislators about animal-welfare issues. "More information is needed that relates
animal health and welfare to stress, the environment, behavior, husbandry practices
and productivity," Beck says. "We need people who understand the science, politics
and emotions of animal welfare." Ten graduates have completed the program and received
certificates. To assess the program's effectiveness, graduates are being tracked to see
if they're working in related fields. Eventually, an undergraduate major and a graduate
degree in animal welfare may be offered.
Study may help reduce number of dogs given up for adoption
A Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine study may challenge some previous beliefs about
why owners give their dogs or cats to shelters. "For example, when shelter personnel
ask people why they're giving up their pet, often the answer is because they're moving or they got it as a gift," says Dr. Gary Patronek, a fellow in the veterinary school.
"While that may be true, it might not necessarily be a real risk factor. We want
to uncover the underlying factors -- perhaps income, breed, if the pet's been sterilized -- that influence people to relinquish their pets to shelters." The results, available
in early July, may help animal shelters and other animal-welfare groups develop educational
and intervention programs to reduce the number of pets destroyed at shelters.
Computer simulations replace animals as teaching tools
Concern for the use of animals in the classroom has prompted several Purdue specialists
to develop computer programs that make diagnosis and drug testing possible on a computer
screen instead of a live animal. For example, Craig Marcus, associate professor of toxicology, created a computer model that lets pharmacy students use simulated
animals to test the interactions among a variety of drugs. In the School of Veterinary
Medicine, efforts involve development of a 3-D representation of a dog so students
can practice surgical techniques or learn anatomy, and development of computer-based
lessons to teach physiology and anatomy. Dr. Fred Roesel, professor of veterinary
physiology, and colleagues have developed video laser disks that, when paired with
lessons on a computer, help students do neurological exams of a horse, dog and cat without
using the real animal.
Professor studies what makes cows content
For 30 years Professor Jack Albright has worked to improve conditions for animals
and farm workers in the dairy and livestock industries. He conceived many of the
innovations that are widespread practices today, such as grooved flooring in dairy
barns to prevent dairy cow slips and falls, and floor-level feed bunks that let cows eat in
a more natural grazing-like position. One test that he and Purdue researchers Julie
Morrow-Tesch, Dan Bollinger and Simon Kenyon developed involved restraining dairy
cows in head locks for four hours and then releasing the cows for observation. The theory
is that the behavior the animals missed most would be the one they would perform
first upon release. Preliminary results showed many of the cows first engaged in
grooming themselves and other cows. Albright, professor of animal sciences and veterinary medicine,
also collaborated with a musical therapist to study the effect of certain kinds of
music on cows' milk production and found that the bovines preferred classical to
Center studies production animals on their own turf:
Assistant Professor Julie Morrow-Tesch, director, (765) 494-8022; Internet,
Professor Bud Harmon, head, Department of Animal Sciences, (765) 494-4806;
Professor Jack Albright is on sabbatical until July 15 but can receive messages at
(765) 494-8010 or
Assistant Professor Gary Weesner, neuroendrocinologist, (765) 494-6938; Internet,
New clinic to focus on dog-behavior problems:
Professor Alan Beck, director, Center for Applied Ethology and Human-Animal Interaction,
(765) 494-0854; Internet, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Hugh Lewis, dean, School of Veterinary Medicine, (765) 494-7608; Internet, email@example.com
Purdue breeds less feisty chickens:
Professor William Muir, (765) 494-8032; Internet, firstname.lastname@example.org
Center studies the bond between people and animals:
Professor Alan Beck, director, (765) 494-0854; Internet, email@example.com
Computer simulations replace animals as teaching tools:
Professor Craig Marcus, (765) 494-9317; Internet, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Fred Roesel, (765) 494-8635; Internet, email@example.com
Program gives animals fair share of care:
Professor Alan Beck, (765) 494-0854; Internet, firstname.lastname@example.org
Study may help reduce number of dogs given up for adoption:
Dr. Gary Patronek, (765) 494-2294; Internet, email@example.com
Dr. Lawrence Glickman, (765) 494-6031; Internet, firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor studies what makes cows content:
Professor Jack Albright is on sabbatical until July 15 but can receive messages at
(765) 494-8010 or
Assistant Professor Julie Morrow-Tesch, director, Purdue's Center for Research on
Well-Being of Food
Animals, (765) 494-8022; Internet, email@example.com
Tufts' Center for Animals and Public Policy:
Professor Andrew Rowan, director, (508) 839-7991; Internet, firstname.lastname@example.org
University of California-Davis:
Dr. Benjamin Hart, director, Animal Behavior Clinic, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, (916) 752-4863;
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and a gopher server at newsgopher.uns.purdue.edu
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
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