Following the talks by Rachel Casey, James Yeattes and Sarah Ellis, the speakers were invited to form a panel to answer questions from the audience. Just over half an hour was allocated for this. There was a wide-ranging discussion with some of the questions mentioned here.
- Any evidence of current human psychology research as to why brachycephalic dogs are so popular? Generally thought to be defined by appearance-owners do not consider the health of the prospective pet. There is a study mentioned
- Should vets refuse to register or treat dogs with serious genetic defects? Dilemma here of business versus ethical concerns. General consensus that education is the way forward but how to achieve this? Lots of discussion, from getting animal welfare on the national curriculum to using social media, celebrities, the charities and any other innovative way.
- Should pet ownership be the privilege of the affluent? Some discussion about the root cause-social injustice and how this affects the lives of people in disadvantaged circumstances and their pets. No real progress made on this difficult issue.
- If our lives are so busy would fish or reptiles make more suitable pets? Brings us onto the important subject of matching pets to individual people according to their circumstances.
- Are vets doing enough to educate? Are they part of the problem doing restorative procedures for income?
A point raised is that although charities spend an enormous amount of time in education it is very difficult getting the message across to those people who would normally hear the message or bother to listen.
- Does neutering deprive pets of one of the 5 animal welfare freedoms? And how does this relate to zoos where breeding is encouraged only to find that there is no place for the progeny. General enthusiasm for pre pubescent neutering prior to any motivational desire by the pet. General consensus, therefore, on benefit of neutering. Panel unable to give detailed thought to the zoo question. Not surprising as no specific experience and time constraints to think.
- What about TV programmes? They tend to concentrate on the heroic surgery stories. Need for good documentaries sending out messages. Difficult to get TV companies and producers to broadcast message type programmes. General agreement that TV could offer massive benefits for animal welfare,
- Dogs trust is running a research programme on why people get particular pets. Audience invited to support.