President’s Reports


President’s Report 2016

It is with mixed feelings that I write my final report as President of the Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada. I was first elected to the Board in 2007, elected Vice-President in 2012 and President in 2014. This has given me the privilege of working with a wonderful and ever-changing team of fellow board members, and helping to improve the way the Foundation works in a number of ways. I am especially proud to have helped revise and improve our governance, and to have encouraged the development of our current diverse, professional, and committed board. I thank current and former board members for their wonderful ideas and hard work in making all this happen.

The current year has seen a number of important events and successes for the Foundation. We have continued our long-term association with Canada’s universities by funding a major public lecture at UBC (featuring Dr. Temple Grandin), and by continuing to fund student animal welfare clubs at universities across the country. Most importantly, we have continued our work of selecting and funding especially meritorious projects aimed at improving the welfare of animals in Canada. Highlights include grants to Bear Smart (to survey practices on how to mitigate human-bear conflict and produce an educational tool), to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (to improve the standards of welfare for farm animals by providing expert advice on the Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of poultry and veal calves) and to Zoocheck (to address the lack of understanding with regard to the animal welfare issues involved in the keeping of small exotic animal species). I am grateful to the Grant Selection Committee for their hard work in selecting and overseeing these projects and the other work we have funded. I am also grateful to the Communications Committee and the Visioning Committee for their work over the past year.

At this meeting we say good-bye to Susan Church (first elected in 2010) who has now come to the end of her second 3-year term on the board. Susan has been an exemplary board member, full of energy, wonderful ideas, and a wealth of experience. Susan has also been remarkably generous to the Foundation in terms of her time and in her financial support – she will be sorely missed.

I wish to end by thanking my fellow Officers: John for his thorough and steady hand on the financial tiller, Leanne for keeping everything running smoothly, and Renée for her wise advice and help with the difficult decisions. With colleagues such as these success seems easy!

– Dan Weary, President, Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, April 2016


President’s Report 2015

Thank you very much for your continued service to the Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada. This organization depends fully on your efforts as volunteers, and I am grateful for the work that each of you has done to strengthen the Foundation and allow it to operate more effectively. It is a great pleasure to work with such a professional and dedicated group of individuals.

Highlights from the past year include:

  1. Our main function to fund excellent initiatives that improve the lives of animals. Our new grant application process functioned smoothly and allowed us to attract a number of strong applications. Of these we were able to fund four projects: Animal Justice Canada, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls. We have instituted a holdback that I hope will help us secure timely and high-quality reports from each of these organizations.
  2. To function well we need strong governance. This was greatly advanced by the approval of our new Bylaws. Thanks to the impressive efforts of our Bylaw sub-committee, we received our Certificate of Continuance on October 9th, 2014.
  3. Our Foundation is only as strong as its Directors. Thus this year I was especially pleased to welcome our newest Directors, Adrienne and Norm. Already both have begun to make valuable contributions to the AWFC. I especially wish to thank Adrienne (and the External Communications committee) for her work on the new website and Facebook page, and thank Norm (and the members of the ‘visioning working group’) for prompting a discussion on what we do and how we can do it better. We will continue to need to recruit excellent new trustees in coming years, and I ask all of you to join in the search for new talent.

On a sad note, at this AGM we say good-bye to two long-standing and highly valued trustees, Alice and Craig. Alice first joined AWFC in 2006, served as President from 2012 – 2014, and as past President from 2014-2015. She helped to lead the transformation of the Foundation, including the impressive renewal in governance. Craig joined the AWFC in 2009 and has served as Treasurer since 2011, helping to place the Foundation in the secure financial position it is today. We will miss you both!

– Dan Weary, President, Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, May 2015


President’s Report 2014

First, I want to express on behalf of the Board our sadness at the recent death of the AWFC’s founding president, Tom Hughes. Tom spent more than 50 years working to improve the welfare of animals in Canada, including serving as Executive Director of the BCSPCA for 12 years, and establishing the AWFC in 1966 and the Canadian Farm Animal Care Trust in 1989.This only grazes the surface of his very many contributions—we are grateful to have known and worked with him.

This last year has seen progress for the AWFC in several areas, thanks to the efforts, commitment and varied talents of the board trustees. The AWFC has continued to make modest financial gains under the able stewardship of Treasurer Craig Daniell.

The active sub-committees accomplished a great deal. Some highlights:

  1. The Grants Committee developed a stream-lined process for review of grant applications, which was used for the first time in the 2014 competition. Four grants were approved at the April 24, 2014 AGM—summaries can be found here. In accordance with the Strategic Direction, the AWFC aims to fund innovative education and research initiatives to achieve measurable positive change for animals in Canada. The overall goal is to make the best use of the Foundation’s relatively limited funds in order to advance the welfare of animals in Canada. One AWFC-funded project that took place in 2013 supported the national Cat Overpopulation Task Force, led by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), in its goals of reducing cat overpopulation and the associated negative consequences of homelessness, overburdened shelters and rescues, and euthanasia because of illness and lack of space. AWFC funding supported planning conferences in 2013 with provincial stakeholders to present the results of the research, develop appropriate strategies and action plans, and address national and local issues. (These issues were generated in the research and include accessible spay/neuter, increasing cat ownership, increasing adoption and decreasing euthanasia). An update and development of further action plans for the “Cats Count in Canada!” initiative will take place at the CFHS National Animal Welfare Conference in Toronto in April 2014.
  2. The By-laws Committee continues to move forward with required changes that will bring the AWFC into compliance with the new Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act. This Act “provides federal not-for-profit corporations with a new set of rules that are modern, flexible and better suited to the needs of today’s not-for-profit sector.”
  3. Education about animal welfare continues to be a priority for the AWFC. In 2013-14, the Foundation provided grants to animal welfare clubs at the Canadian veterinary colleges to support activities such as conferences and lunch time talks. (Club reports). The Foundation also supports the public Peter Stratton Memorial Lecture at UBC and the Basil Capes Memorial Lecture at the University of Guelph. This year’s Stratton lecture was “Captivity, Conservation and the Welfare of Wild Animals.”

Retiring board members

At this AGM we bid adieu to two trustees on the AWFC board. On behalf of the board I extend sincere thanks to Joe Stookey and to Jane Morrigan for their many years of service to the AWFC. In particular I want to recognize Jane’s work with the AWFC website, through which it has been transformed from its previous outdated state to an attractive, easily navigable tool that has enabled the AWFC to improve communications and to go forward in many areas, for example the granting process for 2014.

As the outgoing president, I extend many thanks to Dan Weary for his excellent support as vice-president, to Craig Daniell our exemplary treasurer, and to our hard-working secretary Leanne McConnachie. It is a great pleasure to have worked with a board made up of such committed individuals—all working for better animal welfare in their professional lives—who give so generously of their time and knowledge to the AWFC.

– Alice Crook, President, Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, April 2014


President’s Report 2013

This last year has seen progress for the AWFC in several areas, thanks to the efforts, commitment and varied talents of the board trustees. The very active sub-committees accomplished a great deal. Some highlights:

  1. The clarified Strategic Direction for the AWFC (approved April 2012) emphasizes innovative education and research initiatives to achieve measurable positive change for animals in Canada. The Strategic Direction offers guidance to applicants for AWFC funding and has proved very useful to the grants sub-committee in evaluation of grant applications. The sub-committee has also drafted a proposal for future granting policies—to determine how best to use the Foundation’s relatively limited funds to advance the welfare of animals in Canada.
  2. Thanks to the skills of trustee and web mistress Jane Morrigan and the web site sub-committee, the AWFC web site has been extensively reworked, updated, and translated. Thanks to all board members for contributing lovely photos of animals living good lives.
  3. Ably led by Frances Rodenburg, the by-laws subcommittee reviewed the AWFC by-laws and has drafted proposed changes to bring them into compliance with the new Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, for consideration at this AGM.

This past year, the AWFC has continued to make modest financial gains despite difficult investment times. This enabled a small grant competition for fall 2012 and a larger one for spring 2013. AWFC funds were awarded in the fall to support the national Cat Overpopulation Task Force, led by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, in its goals of reducing cat overpopulation and the associated negative consequences of homelessness, overburdened shelters and rescues, and euthanasia because of illness and lack of space. The Task Force produced an initial comprehensive report last year, based on a national survey. AWFC funding will be used to support planning conferences across Canada with provincial stakeholders to present the results and to develop appropriate strategies and action plans, addressing both national and local issues.

The AWFC continues to provide financial support for the development of the BCSPCA Certified Standards Program—an innovative farm certification and food-labelling program dedicated to improving farm animal welfare standards in Canada.

I know I speak for all the board in thanking Treasurer Craig Daniell for his very able financial guidance and for the clarity of his financial statements.

Education about animal welfare continues to be a priority for the AWFC. In 2012, the Foundation provided grants to animal welfare clubs at the five veterinary colleges, to support activities such as conferences and lunch time talks, and other initiatives—e.g., Poultry Welfare conference at the Atlantic Veterinary College and Animal Welfare Forum at the Ontario Veterinary College. The Foundation also supports the public Peter Stratton Memorial Lecture at UBC and the Basil Capes Memorial Lecture at the University of Guelph.

Retiring board members

At this AGM we will bid adieu to 3 long-serving trustees of the AWFC board. On behalf of the board I extend sincere thanks to Chris Harvey-Clark for his many years of service.

Ian Duncan has also served for many years on the AWFC board, including several terms as president. Through his long and illustrious international career, Dr. Duncan has contributed greatly to the way both the scientific community and the public understand animal welfare—and to the resultant advancement thereof—through his highly-regarded scholarly work and his evidence-based advocacy for better treatment of animals. The AWFC has benefited greatly from his leadership and we thank him.

This brings me to our excellent retiring secretary, Frances Rodenburg, who has served for many long years as the backbone of the AWFC. It is only in my last few years on the Executive that I have really appreciated how much work Frances does to make things easy for the rest of us. Frances, we thank you so much for your cool head and supreme organizational skills, your passion for improving the welfare of animals, and your long-standing commitment to the AWFC!

I also extend many thanks to Dan Weary for his support as vice-president, to Craig Daniell our exemplary treasurer, and to our incoming secretary Leanne McConnachie. It is a pleasure to be president of a board made up of such committed and hard-working individuals—all working for better animal welfare in their professional lives—who give so generously of their time and knowledge to the AWFC.

– Alice Crook, President, Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, June 2013


President’s Report 2012

The past year has been one of holding our ship steady on course while depressed financial markets are very slowly recovering. However, it seems that the projects that have been funded by the Foundation, namely the further development of the SPCA Certified program and the cross-Canada lecture tour promoting alternative husbandry systems to battery cages for laying hens, have been successful. In addition, all the evidence suggests that the support the Foundation is giving to the Animal Welfare Clubs in the Veterinary Colleges is paying dividends. All these clubs have been very active in the past year. In February of this year, I was invited by the Club at St. Hyacinth to give a lunch-time talk. There was very good attendance of students and Faculty at the talk, even though it coincided with mid-term exams. The number of really good questions that were asked also indicates that these students are embracing animal welfare in a big way.

I am very much aware that for the past few years the Foundation has focussed its support on the improvement of farm animal welfare. The Foundation should keep in mind that its function is to use its funds to support services and programs for all animals in need and not just farm animals.

At this time I would like to pay tribute to the man responsible for establishing the Foundation, Tom Hughes. You will know that two months ago Tom was struck by a very severe illness which has left him physically and mentally incapacitated, and from which he almost certainly will not recover. Tom has had a truly remarkable career. He has spent more than 50 years working to improve the welfare of all animals across Canada. He was Executive Director of the BC SPCA for 12 years during which time he built up the Society and founded 12 branches throughout the Province. He was then Executive Director of the OSPCA and continued his tradition of branch development in Ontario. In 1966 he established the Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada. He was the first President and then the Honorary Treasurer for many years. In his retirement, he was more active in animal welfare projects than many people are through their working lives. When he thought that the Foundation was largely ignoring the needs of farm animals, he established the Canadian Farm Animal Care Trust to support research and development of more humane husbandry systems and procedures. Tom also initiated the Foundation’s development of a grant for the Peter Stratton Memorial Lecture at UBC and the Basil Capes Memorial Lecture at the University of Guelph. Tom Hughes has probably had a greater influence in improving the welfare of more animals in Canada then anyone. We should all be proud to have known him.

Since this will be my last report as President of the Foundation, I would like to thank all the Board Members for their support throughout the past year and for all the years that I have been President. In particular I would like to thank the two Vice-Presidents, Alice Crook and Dan Weary for their support and suggestions through the year. It goes without saying that I am forever grateful to the Honorary Secretary, Frances Rodenburg for all her hard work. I am particularly grateful to Craig Daniel who has taken over the role of Honorary Treasurer in a masterful way and laid out the Foundation’s financial position very clearly.

It has been a real pleasure for me to have been associated with this organization for several years now. What has made my job so rewarding is the willingness of the Board of Trustees to work together harmoniously to find solutions to animal welfare problems. I would like to thank all Trustees from the bottom of my heart for making my spell as President a real delight.

– Ian J.H. Duncan, President, Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, April 2012


President’s Report 2011

In my report last year, I suggested that there are many indicators that Canada is near a “tipping point” with regard to animal welfare matters. There are various Welfare Quality Assurance schemes for animal products. These seem to be doing well and are gradually expanding. Many of the Provincial Colleges of Veterinarians are phasing out cosmetic surgeries for companion animals. I am particularly impressed with the approach taken by the National Farm Animal Care Council in how it is tackling revision of the Recommended Codes of Practice. I admit to being suspicious of this organization when it was founded, but all the indications are that it is involving the brightest and most knowledgeable people in the revision of the Codes. Finally, the teaching of animal welfare is well established in Universities and Colleges throughout Canada and the enthusiasm for welfare information amongst students in the Veterinary Colleges continues to rise. The Trustees of the Foundation now need to decide how best to exploit this current situation with a society apparently on the verge of embracing animal welfare in a big way.

In 2007, we made the decision to fund fewer but larger animal welfare projects. I think we were all a little disappointed at the standard of many of the applications. Last year, we made the decision to fund a Conference or Conferences on the Future of Battery Cages in Canada. I will be reporting on those Meetings later in this AGM; sufficient to say here that the meetings were very successful. We now need to decide on what our funding policy should be over the next few years.

I would like to thank all the Board Members for their support throughout the year. In particular I would like to thank the two Vice-Presidents, Alice Crook and Dan Weary for their support and suggestions through the year. It goes without saying that I am forever grateful to the Honorary Secretary, Frances Rodenburg for all her hard work. I reserve until last a very special vote of thanks and appreciation for our Honorary Treasurer, Tom Hughes. You will all be aware that he retired from the Treasurer’s position in December when Craig Daniell took over. The Foundation is really Tom’s baby. It was his idea to form the Foundation in 1966 and he has been at the heart of it ever since. I cannot think of anyone else in Canada who has worked as vigorously and as tirelessly as Tom to promote animal welfare. We all owe him a huge debt of gratitude. I called the Foundation “Tom’s baby”. Well, after 45 years the baby is now weaned. In my view it is thriving and will continue to grow and prosper into the future. You should be extremely proud, Tom, of the organization that you have created.

– Ian J.H. Duncan, President, Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, June 2011


President’s Report 2010

In 2008, the Trustees decided that in the face of the world-wide economic downturn, the Foundation should husband its funds carefully. With that in mind, and in order to save money, the decision was made not to have an in-person Annual General Meeting in 2009. This means that there is not very much to report on at the 2010 Annual General Meeting.

In the last year, we have continued with the policy adopted in 2007 of disbursing fewer but larger animal welfare projects. The time is probably ripe to decide whether this policy has been successful or not.

As I stated in my Stratton Lecture, I am feeling more optimistic about the future of animal welfare than I have felt for many years. There are many indicators pointing to societal change. Funding for the two NSERC Industrial Chairs in Animal Welfare at UBC, which seemed to be in danger of disappearing a few years ago, now seems to be secured. A new Chair in Companion Animal Welfare is in the process of being established at Guelph with the aid of the Mona Campbell bequest. I am disappointed that this Chair is not in the area of farm animal welfare, but since Mona left her money to OVC and since 80% of OVC students want to work with companion animals, I can understand the decision. The University of Guelph established a Masters by Coursework in Animal Welfare and will be graduating the second cohort of students this summer. There seems to be a steady demand for places in this program. I hear that the enthusiasm for welfare information amongst students in the Veterinary Colleges continues to rise and that interest amongst undergraduate students is strong. The Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging Competition held annually at Michigan State University is going from strength to strength. In fact, the undergraduate division of the competition was won by a team from the Royal Veterinary College in London.

Another indicator is that there are several Welfare Quality Assurance schemes that are doing well and gradually expanding. The BC SPCA Certified scheme, which the Foundation has supported, is but one example.

The Provincial Animal Welfare Councils have been doing a good job putting on several excellent training programs for Livestock Truckers. They are also changing and are becoming much more proactive than reactive. Moreover, they are expanding with B.C. now having a Council.

There might even be a positive side to the scandal that arose at the Toronto Humane Society last year. The downside of “no kill shelters” was exposed and I think will make people much more careful of where they put their support.

All of these indicators suggest to me that we may be near a “tipping point” The Trustees of the Foundation now need to decide how best to exploit this current situation with a society apparently on the verge of embracing animal welfare in a big way.

I should report that the Executive Committee have met twice by telephone in the last year and that I have met regularly (about every 6 weeks) with the Honorary Treasurer to discuss Foundation business.

I would like to thank all the Board Members for their support throughout the year. In particular I would like to thank the two Vice-Presidents, Alice Crook and Dan Weary for their support and suggestions through the year. It goes without saying that I am forever grateful to the Honorary Secretary, Frances Rodenburg, and the Honorary Treasurer, Tom Hughes for all their hard work.

I also wish to make it clear that I will be retiring from the President’s position at the AGM next year.

– Ian J.H. Duncan, President, Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, May 2010


President’s Report 2009

I am pleased to report another successful year for the Foundation.

This year represents the second year of the Foundation’s change in policy regarding the dispersion of funds for animal welfare projects. Once again, all the known centres of excellence for animal welfare research in Canada were contacted and invited to submit expressions of interest in carrying out major animal welfare projects of national importance. This was followed up by requests for letters of intent from the best of the interested groups. The Foundation selected the best five of these expressions of interest, and those scientists were invited to submit full applications. These five applications will be considered at the current meeting and one or two of these will be approved and funded for one or two years.

Reports are only now coming in on the results of the first projects funded under this system. It is therefore too early to decide if this new method of allocating funds is making a bigger impact on animal welfare than the previous method. I would suggest that at next year’s AGM we may be in a better position to make this judgement.

In my report last year, I raised the following question: If for the next few years, the Foundation will be funding only one or two projects, is it necessary for the Board to meet annually (at some considerable expense) in order to make very few decisions? These decisions could be made equally well by telephone conference or by internet discussion. The answer to this question was forced upon us by the downturn in the worldwide economy, and we find ourselves this year meeting by telephone conference.

I give the Foundation due warning that it is my intention to retire from the Presidency at next year’s AGM.

I would like to thank all the Board Members for their support throughout the year. In particular I would like to thank the Honourary Secretary, Frances Rodenburg, and the Honourary Treasurer, Tom Hughes for all their hard work.

– Ian J.H. Duncan, President, Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, June 2009