In July 2017, we hosted our third workshop, entitled “Refining Dog Care: progress in the Refinement of dog use“, our largest workshop so far. A total of 24 attendees represented the University of Stirling, UK dog facilities and industry, NC3Rs, RSPCA Science Group, UFAW and the Home Office. The workshop began with Hannah Buchanan-Smith giving a brief history of the Refining Dog Care project, with our purpose being to engage industry in the UK to share and develop best practice in regulated procedures and dog use. The purpose of the workshop was to network, share knowledge and data, and to discuss harmonisation of dog use. We were pleased to confirm that the objectives of the project have been met: development of the Refining Dog Care website, delivery of the staff learning resources on dog welfare, training and procedures, and two empirical studies of regulated procedures performed in the dog. The importance of improving welfare to improve quality of scientific output was emphasised, noting that better welfare reduces harms, and increases benefits in the harm-benefit analyses. Hannah outlined the goals of the meeting being to network, share knowledge and data, and to discuss harmonisation of dog use.
A number of excellent presentations were given during the workshop, including on the application of the 3Rs, barriers and successes in implementing training protocols in dog facilities, and a presentation on international harmonisation led into a discussion on how welfare and Refinements can be harmonised globally. Laura Scullion Hall also presented findings from the research conducted during this project which supports the use of desensitisation and positive reinforcement training to improve welfare and data output in regulated procedures. A highlight of the workshop was a dog facility tour, which demonstrated the benefits of a modern dog facility design for dog welfare, and included a demonstration of reward-based training techniques for dogs.
The meeting served as an excellent networking opportunity, with many new contacts being made, and several future developments being planned. Feedback from attendees has highlighted the level of engagement with Refined methods and training within UK industry and the potential for uptake of new Refined methods.