As a vet working in the media, my mission is to spread good quality information about pets. Each week in the Sunday Telegraph, I answer questions from readers about their animals. I also work in a range of other outlets, from television and radio to print media to social media, discussing various aspects of pet care.
Long standing myths about pets need to be dispelled
One of the frustrating parts about my media work is witnessing the continuation of long-held stereotypical myths about pets. Examples include:
“My dog is always trying to be top dog”.
“I know my dog is happy because he wags his tail a lot”
“My cat piddles on the curtains to punish me”.
“My cat needs other cats for company”
There are many other common beliefs that are outdated and wrong, and these lead to serious misunderstandings between people and their pets. Many problems could be avoided completely if more people were up to date with our current knowledge about the science of animal behaviour.
Most pet owners are not aware of their responsibilities
Improved knowledge about animals also helps people to comply with their legal obligations to their pets. The 2006 Animal Welfare Acts of England, Wales, and Scotland created new responsibilities for pet owners, and in theory, the legislation should have significantly improved the welfare of the nation’s pets. Yet a recent survey by the Blue Cross showed that 65% - nearly two thirds – of the population are not aware of their legal duties towards the animals in their charge.
Online education is the new, easy way to learn
Recent research highlighted the specific gaps in what pet owners know about their animals, and experts have been able to design a programme specifically targetting those areas. The resulting new online course aims to correct the deficits in pet owners’ awareness.
Run by the University of Edinburgh, the course provides a simple way for pet owners to bring themselves fully up to date with our current understanding of dogs and cats, and our new obligations towards them. The free online programme – called ‘The Truth about Cats and Dogs’ – has been designed by a team of animal welfare experts to teach participants about pet needs and behaviours. The Massive Open-access Online Course, or MOOC, which attracts tens of thousands of participants, has been developed at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. The content of the course, written and delivered by acknowledged experts and leaders in the field, is based on the latest scientific findings and provides insights into pet senses and their understanding of the world.
The course specifically explores cat and dog behaviours, senses and ethology, allowing a greater understanding of how pets experience the world. If we learn how our pet cats and dogs perceive the world, we can gain a greater insight into their needs, and understand better how to provide for these needs.
Videos, quizzes and interactive discussions
The course lasts just five weeks, with less than two hours of activity every week, so it’s within anyone’s grasp. It’s easily digested, with videos lasting less than five minutes, easy-click self assessment quizzes, and active discussion boards with course leaders and other participants. It’s free, but if you contribute £34, you’ll be given an official certificate of completion, as well as having a rewarding sense of contributing to the greater good of spreading education via this new online medium.
We are here to fix the machine. The machine is the federal government that has been fundamentally transformed the serve the elite instead of "We The People". Our goal is to engage our fellow Americans on the battlefield of ideas to discover the most ideal way for our nation to be governed to provide the most security with the maximum amount of liberty and freedom for all American citizens.
We welcome all people from all walks of life and ideologies to engage with us. Join us on the battlefield of ideas.