Veterinary students to have lessons added to their college curriculum
China released its first animal welfare textbook for veterinary students on Monday, a move reflecting the country's rising concern for animals.
"The release of Introduction to Animal Welfare is a milestone in the country's animal welfare development and we will actively promote the incorporation of animal welfare into the qualification assessment of practicing veterinarians," said Jia Youling, head of the China Veterinary Medical Association, chief editor of the book and former director of the veterinary bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture.
According to the book, compiled by the association and World Animal Protection, an international nonprofit animal welfare organization, the concept of animal welfare involves meeting the basic physical and psychological needs of animals and scientifically treating and raising animals.
It includes legislation on animal welfare and the issues about laboratory animals, farm animals, pet animals and other kinds of animals like horses and chickens.
The Ministry of Education decided to include animal welfare in the curriculum of veterinary medicine last year, and the textbook will be used soon, said Wang Ming with the CVMA said.
A survey conducted by CVMA and World Animal Protection in 2012 showed that of 61 universities and colleges in China that teach veterinary education, only 33 include animal welfare education.
Peter Mason, Asia Pacific director of World Animal Protection, agreed that animal welfare education for veterinary students is important because Chinese veterinarians "can press for the establishment of animal welfare science and ethics, both as academic disciplines and within veterinary education" in the future.
He said that animal welfare teaching materials have been shared with more than 850 veterinary schools in 27 countries, including China.
Natasha Lee, Asia-Pacific veterinary program manager with World Animal Protection, said the partnership with CVMA is an important constituent of the global strategy to promote education of animal welfare.
In recent years, the country's image as a hotbed for indifference to animal suffering has changed dramatically with animal welfare accepted and known by more people.
Cao Hui, vice-general manger of Shaanxi Kingbull Livestock, said that at her farm, the overall quality of cows' lives are good, and their physical and psychological conditions are taken into full consideration.
She believed that happy cows can make for better tasting beef.
"As animal welfare development is still in its early stage in China, we are catching up with the world and making great achievements," said Chang Zhigang, director of the CVMA's Animal Health and Welfare Branch, adding that the concept of animal welfare has already been mentioned in the country's animal epidemic prevention and animal husbandry laws.
Although there is no legislation on animal welfare in China, Chang was optimistic about the development of animal welfare in the country.
"The legislation on animal welfare will come one day in China," Chang said.