It is with great enthusiasm that I hand over the reins of office to Bill Swann as Chair of AWSELVA. He has a track record in the area of strategic planning that I hope will consolidate the small steps that I have taken during my term. I very much look forward to working with Bill as part of the old and the new team leading the organisation. This is yet another formative period in our history as we grow and develop, this time into post-juvenile stage as we take on a more national profile.
For this we need the help and especially the views of all AWSELVA members, so please let us have them (http://www.awselva.org.uk).
This is my first column as Chair of AWSELVA, and in some respects it is daunting to follow the professors Morton and Webster. As a generalist, I cannot profess to bring academic excellence to the role, but as a generalist, if indeed I have any speciality, it is in strategic planning and the proper employment of people and resources. In my view, this is timely. Animal welfare science and the ethics of human interaction with animals are of increasing interest to vets, animal owners and carers. AWSELVA needs a take a strategic view so that it can better serve its members and assume a key role in the animal welfare landscape. AWSELVA is, in my view, a value-led association. All of us who are members share a passion for animal welfare, and a belief that animal lives are important. Furthermore, AWSELVA has established itself as an independent voice. Independence is a value to be proud of.
My aim is to position AWSELVA, by developing a ten-year strategic vision and a set of five-year objectives. What should AWSELVA be doing in ten year's time? What key achievements should it have to its name? How should it interact with other organisations such as the BVA ethics committee, FAWC, CAWC and other bodies involved in deciding what we should and should not do to animals? I also aim to produce a communications plan: – what should we publish? Who are the target audiences?
With the support of the members of AWSELVA, I hope that the association will be seen as the leader in its field, a source of informed comment for the media and others, a promoter of sound animal welfare and ethics education, a catalyst for debate and a resource for anyone who interacts with animals and asks the question “how can I best promote the welfare on animals in my care”. Recent events have shown that animals can bring out the worst in people. The persecution of those who legally and legitimately work with animals in science, and who are frequently deeply compassionate is abhorrent and such people should not be the targets of terror and intimidation.
AWSELVA has the capacity to be a measured, responsible voice of animal welfare, still passionate, but constructive and influential. In the near future, it would be helpful to hold a seminar to canvass members on their thoughts on our future. That will allow me to set the direction and development of AWSELVA, with the support of a dynamic committee. I will soon be knocking on doors!
Through my own work as Director at the Brooke, I see the benefits of the strategic application of good science to making a real difference to animal lives (and human lives in our case). There is so much to learn, and so much to apply, that AWSELVA should have a secure and exciting future.