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Dog wellbeing pioneer Prof McGreevy awarded in UK for life’s work

29 May 2017
VetCompass, Dogmanship creator gains Lifetime Achievement Award

University of Sydney Professor Paul McGreevy has been recognised at one of the largest and most prestigious veterinary awards in the world for his pioneering contribution to canine welfare and behaviour.

Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Prof Paul McGreevy at the International Canine Health Awards 2017 in London - credit - the Kennel Club

Professor McGreevy at the 2017 International Canine Health Awards in London. Credit: the Kennel Club

In Australia, research and projects Professor McGreevy has spearheaded include:

Professor McGreevy, who was raised in Newcastle-under-Lyme, North Staffordshire and moved to Australia for work in 1989, is one of three academic veterinarians recognised worldwide by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons at this year's awards.

The University’s first Professor of Animal Welfare Science has won the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Canine Health Awards, where he received £10,000 towards his future work.

Professor McGreevy said is was a great honour to receive the award, which highlighted the importance of research into dog welfare and behaviour.

"With unwelcome behaviour being the main threat to young dogs’ lives, it is good to know that my team's work in advancing the understanding of dogs is being recognised,” Professor McGreevy said.

An announcement last week by Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which runs the awards, said: "A career highlight for Professor McGreevy includes collaborating with London’s Royal Veterinary College in 2009 to launch VetCompass in the UK [prior to launching VetCompass in Australia], a cutting edge disorder-surveillance system.

"VetCompass is a software platform capturing clinical records from veterinary practices. Data from VetCompass are put into a centralised resource, enabling researchers to access comprehensive and real-time data from conditions as diverse as epilepsy, cancer, skin disease and heart disease in dogs and other companion animals.

"Thus far it has become a benchmark tool for inherited disorders, gathering data on over 5.8 million animals in the UK and Australia.

"Professor McGreevy... has focused on the behaviour and welfare of horses and dogs, and has done extensive research into canine dementia.

"Aside from numerous advances in canine welfare, Paul is also highly recognised for his ground-breaking work into canine vision, brain anatomy and behaviour." 

Professor McGreevy co-developed the Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) scale in 2011 with Hannah Salvin, one of his PhD students, and Professor Michael Valenzuela, a global leader in Alzheimer’s disease research. The scale is the first data-driven tool designed for reliable diagnosis of dementia in dogs. Until Professor McGreevy and his team at the University of Sydney developed the Canine Sand Maze, a practical and accurate method of assessing canine spatial learning, working memory and delayed recall in pet dogs, there was no validated model of assessing canine memory.

Professor McGreevy's interest in these subjects began when he started competing in agility and obedience as a young teenager. During his career, he found that behaviour was the best lens through which to assess animal welfare and his research into working dogs has revealed important links between behavioural attributes and work output, particularly with guide-dog training.

His findings have predicted the suitability of dogs for work; details about dogmanship are here. Vets or pet owners can register their interest in having their veterinary consultation details automatically included in VetCompass via the VetCompass website

Nominations for the awards were judged by a panel of influential representatives from the veterinary profession and the world of scientific research.

These included: Nick Blayney, Veterinary Surgeon and veterinary advisor to the Kennel Club; Professor Robin Franklin, Professor of Stem Cell Medicine at Cambridge University; Professor Alan Kelly, Emeritus Dean, Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr Andrew Higgins, Honorary Editor-in-Chief at the Veterinary Journal; Professor John Innes, UK Referral Director at CVS; Professor David Argyle, Dean of Veterinary Medicine and Head of School, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh; Dr Siraya Chunekamrai, Honorary Secretary WSAVA and Chairperson of the WSAVA PR and Communications Committee; and Professor Holger Volk, Professor of Veterinary Neurology and Neurosurgery and Head of Department of Clinical Science and Services, Royal Veterinary College (and winner of last year’s International award).

Vivienne Reiner

Media and PR Adviser (Science, Veterinary Science, Agriculture)
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