LMU Veterinary Students Recognized by OIE for Research on Animal Welfare During COVID-19

World Organisation for Animal Health

Lincoln Memorial University-College of Veterinary Medicine (LMU-CVM) was recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Collaborating Centre Network for Veterinary Emergencies (EmVetNet), for its contributions to the Global Thematic Platform on Animal Welfare activities during the COVID-19 global pandemic.


LMU-CVM summer research students and volunteers under the direction of Dr. Gary Vroegindewey, director of the One Health Program at LMU-CVM, catalogued over 1100 animal welfare-related reports and provided 48 report analysis and narratives for the working group. The students, with faculty supervision, collected, analyzed, and provided narratives on a wide range of COVID-19 related issues across a range of animal groups, including production, companion, wildlife, research and zoo animals.


“It is not often a student can say they conducted research for the World Organization for Animal Health in the midst of a global pandemic that could have a lasting impact on their field of study,” said LMU-CVM Dean Stacy Anderson. “We are grateful for the opportunity that OIE has given our students to be a part of this important project, and we are proud of the work they are doing to impact animal welfare in the future.”


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts have been ongoing to understand the potential origin of the virus and whether animals can be infected or spread the disease. At this time, there is no sufficient evidence to suggest that any animal, including pets or livestock, play a role in the transmission of COVID-19. However, misunderstanding has resulted in threats to animal welfare.


In addition, the measures taken to contain the disease have caused disruptions in many animal-related activities, such as shelters, zoos, riding schools, and institutes using laboratory animals. The food supply chain has been impacted by disrupted trade and changed consumption patterns, all having an impact on the food producing animals being farmed. The pandemic will also have a lasting economic impact, which in turn, will impact animal ownership and animal care.


For these reasons, EmVetNet, together with LMU, and many worldwide partners set up a Global Thematic Platform to map the impact of COVID-19 on animal welfare, to observe trends, to identify lessons and share solutions found and best practices; in order to aid research, policies and future events.


“The work of Lincoln Memorial University contributes greatly to our understanding of the impacts of animal welfare during emergencies. This informs our working group and our affiliated intergovernmental groups to issues involving legislation, policy, operations, best practices and economics to better address these issues for the benefit of the animal and society. The results of their contributions and the working group will go beyond the current pandemic and provide a framework to integrate animal welfare into future initiatives,” said Dr. Paolo Dalla Villa of the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell'Abruzzo e del Molise “G. Caporale” (IZSAM) – OIE Collaborating Centre for Animal Welfare in Europe, a public health institute providing technical and operational assistance to veterinary services in the area of emergency management, at national and international level.


The OIE represents 182 countries with a focus on animal health, animal welfare, and veterinary public health. The Animal Welfare Working Group included LMU-CVM, the IZSAM, the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD) at Texas A&M University in the United States, the National Center for Agricultural Health (CENSA) in Cuba as partners of the EmVetNet OIE Collaborating Centers network, the World Veterinary Association, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Israeli Veterinary Service, Four Paws International, the International Coalition Animal Welfare and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The LMU-College of Veterinary Medicine is located on LMU’s main campus in Harrogate, Tennessee, with additional academic facilities in nearby Lee County, Virginia. LMU-CVM is an integral part of the University’s medical programs and provides real-world, community-based education in a collaborative learning environment. For more information about LMU-CVM, call 1.800.325.0900, ext. 7150 or visit us online at vetmed.LMUnet.edu.

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