The New Irish Veterinary Behaviour Association Honours a Historic Giant of the Veterinary Profession
By Claire Corridan
On January 25th, 2022, the Irish Veterinary Behaviour Association was christened (and celebrated with a few tots of Scottish single malt). Although focused on the science of veterinary behavioural medicine, the IVBA welcomes non veterinary behavioural practitioners of every description- animal charity staff, animal keepers and trainers, pet behaviour counsellors, animal welfare scientists and so the list goes on. This field of veterinary medicine is growing rapidly- the danger of which is, in ensuring that the evidence base is there to direct our use of behavioural strategies and use of psychotropic medications. Hence- the need for collaboration between vets, scientists, and behavioural practitioners, to protect both animal welfare and the public.
The IVBA’s mission is “To promote the highest standards of welfare within the Irish animal behaviour industry.” They aim to achieve this by supporting scientific research in the field of animal behaviour; by encouraging and providing educational opportunities in the field of veterinary behavioural medicine; supporting collaboration between those with an occupational interest in animal behaviour and engaging with statutory bodies to promote the recognition and regulation of the animal behaviour industry in Ireland.
The IVBA’s inaugural event, held in Belfast on September 16th, 2022, was arranged in honour of Mr Des Thompson OBE, BA, MVB, MSc (VetGP) Hon. FRCVS. Des was the Chairman of the British Veterinary Behaviour Association for decades and campaigned to promote both the veterinary profession and the discipline of veterinary behaviour in Ireland throughout his career. Anyone who has met Des and enjoyed his company for any amount of time, can tell you how proud he is of both Ireland and the veterinary profession. Des’s input, energy and connections were instrumental in establishing the Young Vet Network and Vetlife/IVBF. Combining two of Des’s passions: veterinary orthopaedics and veterinary behavioural medicine, the IVBA Belfast conference promised to “explore how a veterinary behavioural approach can enhance the management of companion animal orthopaedic cases.” Guest speakers included Professor Stuart Carmichael (Joint Adventures Ltd) who explained the importance of treating the animal and not the x-ray! Anne Rogers (VN & Director at AniEd) covered the preparation of patients for elective orthopaedic surgeries. The double act of Dr James Hunt (Pet Pain Relief, UK) and Dr Claire Corridan (Great Expectations & UCD) talked about both the pharmacological and behavioural strategies we can use to handle painful and frightened cases attending for orthopaedic procedures in practice. Dr Siobhan Menzies (Holistic Pet NI) explored post operative management to include analgesic and rehabilitation protocols, to improve compliance and surgical success rates. An hour of case discussions before lunch, provided an ideal ice- breaker, encouraging frank discussion, exchange of ideas and opportunities for clinical audit, with input from the invited speakers and shared experiences from the audience. Those who attended the event talked about a “lovely positive vibe” which extended through the day of the conference and into the awards dinner in the evening. The student stewards, attending from UCD, greet delegates with smiley faces and exuberant energy- feeding into the positive buzz in getting veterinary behaviour firmly on the veterinary agenda!
In May this year, the IVBA advertised for nominations to be sent in for individuals working within the veterinary practice team, who have demonstrated the importance of integrating behaviour into first opinion veterinary practice. This is a brand-new award, in honour of Des Thompson. A number of nominations were received and whittled down to a final 6 by an expert panel (including Des and his wife Rosalie). All of the nominees were in attendance at the conference awards dinner: Aisling Judge RVN at UCD; Dr Anna Barron- Moore Vets 4 Pets Lisburn Longthorne, Dr Clare Meade, The Cat Hospital; Dr Miriam McEvoy, Sandymount Pet Hospital; Dr Orlaith O’Mahony, Animal Care Hospital, Douglas; Tina Corcoran RVN. The Des Thompson Award for Integrating Behaviour into First Opinion Veterinary Practice was won by Dr Anna Barron- Moore, with first runner up, Dr Clare Meade and second runner up, Dr Orlaith O’Mahony. All of the nominees expressed their delight and surprise at having been nominated and with continued support, and with the express permission of the award’s namesake, Des, we hope to able to attract even more nominations this time next year. As a surprise, for both Des and the rest of the IVBA committee, an application had been made to Veterinary Ireland to recognise Des’s contribution to the veterinary profession in Ireland. Des’s list of veterinary political appointments and honours are as long as both of his arms! The most recent of which had been as the first veterinary surgeon to receive “The Queen’s medal” presented by the late Queen Elizabeth II. The National Council of Veterinary Ireland acknowledged Des’s character and list of achievements and very kindly agreed a deviation of protocol, allowing the Veterinary Ireland Distinguished Service Medal to be awarded at the Belfast event, held in Des’s honour, just 15 minutes from his home. Dr Alan Rossiter, an enthusiastic fan of Des, from his time as VI President, attended the conference “in Cognito” and was delighted to be able to deliver the medal to Des at the conference dinner.
The IVBA committee are now bursting with ideas and enthusiasm for future events- the key to which will be mutual respect, an appetite for evidence-based medicine and having fun with like- minded colleagues. For more information on the IVBA’s projects and events please visit www.ivba.ie