PEI

After quarter century, animal welfare centre getting new director

Dr. Alice Crook has been leading the Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre at the Atlantic Veterinary College since it began 25 years ago, but now someone new will lead the centre.

'In 25 years it has transformed into a centre that is nationally and internationally known'

Dr. Alice Crook, left, has been leading the Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre at the Atlantic Veterinary College since it began 25 years ago, but now Dr. Katy Proudfoot will lead the centre stepping into the role of director. (Laura Chapin/CBC)

Dr. Alice Crook has been leading the Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre at the Atlantic Veterinary College since it began 25 years ago, but now someone new will take the lead.

The centre started with just three projects, Crook said.

"In 25 years it has transformed into a centre that is nationally and internationally known," she said.

Crook was supposed to retire in March, but is still wrapping up various projects and said she wanted to make sure there was someone to pass the reins to.

She has found that person and is now retiring as co-ordinator.

Dr. Katy Proudfoot is the new director of the centre. Originally from California, she got her masters and PhD at the University of British Columbia, and then helped establish animal welfare curriculum at Ohio State University.

Proudfoot said in the field of animal welfare, an animal welfare centre is actually quite rare.

"There is only a couple in North America," she said.

"This one is very well recognized in the national and international community."

Continue animal welfare research

When she heard the centre was hiring a director, Proudfoot said she jumped at the chance.

"My hope is to do not only my own research program but to continue to develop research at the AVC around animal welfare," she said.

Currently, veterinary students at AVC learn about animal welfare in a first year course, training not all veterinarians get.

But ideally, Proudfoot said she would like to introduce animal welfare to the entire curriculum and have students always thinking about it.

One of the key times animal welfare has to be thought of is when a decision is being made to euthanize a family pet.

"Having the veterinarian get some experience, which they already get at the AVC, but even more having conversations with clients around sensitive topics like that," Proudfoot said.

"Animal welfare dilemmas," such as making the decision to euthanize a pet is a main source of stress for veterinarians, Proudfoot said.

"I think a lot of it comes down to giving them more confidence in making some of those decisions. Giving them more practice in dealing with ethical dilemmas with animals," she said.

Leaving behind a legacy

The work the Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre has done over two and a half decades, along with other partners and organizations, has changed the landscape in terms of laws both here on the Island and beyond.

"We developed the P.E.I. Animal Welfare Act, which was enacted I guess it is two years now. It's very highly regarded across Canada it has been used as a model for other people changing their legislation," Crook said.

A lot of the United States is behind parts of Canada in terms of animal welfare laws and regulations and Proudfoot credits Crook in paving the way, she said.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

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