Animal welfare competition: Test your skills

Published on August 20, 2019

Attention AVMA members, veterinary students, undergraduates, and graduate students: You’re invited to take part in a unique and interactive learning experience, AVMA’s  Animal Welfare Assessment Contest®. The event will take place November 22-24 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Col.

This annual competition offers an opportunity to observe and evaluate the welfare of animals in a variety of settings. Students can compete in teams or as individuals, and a select number of AVMA members also are able to attend and participate.

The event enhances awareness and understanding of welfare issues that impact animals used for human purposes–for example, agriculture, research, and companionship. The contest can help you hone your critical thinking and communication skills, and practice using an integrated approach that calls on science-based methods and ethical standards to assess animal welfare.

How does the contest work?

This year’s competition will feature virtual scenarios involving broiler chickens, laboratory zebrafish, and captive African painted dogs, plus an on-site assessment of a livestock sheep slaughter facility. Contestants will evaluate the virtual scenarios by assessing the welfare of the animals in all aspects of life, including transport, housing, health, training, retirement, production, slaughter/euthanasia, and more. The on-site scenario will entail evaluating animals in the stockyards (lairage), facility design, data/records, and effectiveness of captive bolt positioning. Live animal slaughter will not be assessed. Contestants will then present their findings to judges who are veterinarians or other animal welfare experts. Awards will be given to the highest-placing individuals and teams in three divisions: veterinary, undergraduate, and graduate students.

Interested students can enter the competition here. The deadline to apply is Oct. 14, 2019. If you’re an AVMA member interested in joining as a non-placing competitor, complete this member application form and submit it by Sept. 20. Up to eight AVMA members will be selected and will receive awards of $800 for travel costs.

Apply for a travel grant

For over 10 years the AVMA has been supporting participants with travel stipends that help offset the cost of attending the contest. This year again, we’ll provide up to 25 travel grants (up to $400 per student and a maximum of four grants per school) for United States veterinary students who attend, and up to 17 travel grants (up to $600 per student and a maximum of three grants per school) for international veterinary students. Travel grants also are available for graduate students. Eligible students can apply for a travel grant here.

For more information about the contest, including entry forms, preparation tips, and sample scenarios, visit awjac.org. If you can’t wait until November, you can test your animal welfare skills now by taking these interactive quizzes on working horsesbreeding farm llamas, and working dogs.


Special thanks to our Animal Welfare Assessment Contest partners: Merck Animal Health, presenting partner; and Charles River, signature partner.

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