Two students, Michelle Farrow and Sierra Latshaw, from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) have been awarded prizes at the International Canine Health Awards in the ‘Student Inspiration Award’ category in recognition of their contributions to the welfare of dogs. 

The International Canine Health Awards is the world’s largest and most prestigious honour, recognising excellence in canine research, dog health and welfare. Administrated by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, and supported by Vernon and Shirley Hill, founders of Metro Bank, the event celebrates those working in veterinary science who go the extra mile to promote the health and wellbeing of dogs. The four categories include the International Prize in Canine Health, the Lifetime Achievement Award, the Student Inspiration Awards (both undergraduate and postgraduate) and the Breed Health Coordinator Award.

Michelle Farrow’s ‘DogWeb Survey’ explores dog owners’ decision-making around seeking veterinary care for their dog

Michelle Farrow BSc (Hons) RVN was awarded the Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award for her current ‘Master by Research’ project. Michelle’s research involves a novel, interactive survey, consisting of case scenarios based upon the RVC’s VetCompass data.

The ‘DogWeb Survey’ explores dog owners’ decision-making around seeking veterinary care for their dog and the potential influence of online information sourcing. Responses were received from more than 2,800 UK dog owners and the findings will aid understanding of caregivers’ decision-making around their dog’s health and the internet’s potential influence. This will also help the veterinary profession better support caregivers in making decisions about their dogs’ health that promote canine welfare.

Michelle Farrow BSc (Hons) RVN said, “I am humbled and honoured to be the first veterinary nurse to win the ICHA’s Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award. My clinical experience as a veterinary nurse has really enhanced and informed my current research work, which is why I believe that veterinary nurses can be a real asset to research, bringing new and challenging perspectives.

“The findings from my current research will aid understanding of caregivers’ decision-making around their dog’s health and the internet’s potential influence.”

Dr Rowena Packer, RVC lecturer in Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science and primary supervisor for Michelle Farrow said, “Michelle is a truly dedicated veterinary nurse, researcher and canine welfare advocate, and the ICHA prize is testament to her outstanding early career impact. Michelle’s current research is set to vastly increase the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions’ understanding of 21st Century dog ownership in a digital world, and I have no doubt she will make a real positive impact for canine welfare in her future career.”

Sierra Latshaw’s project explores the facets of clinical management of testicular cancer in dogs

Sierra Latshaw, an undergraduate veterinary student at the RVC, won the Undergraduate Student Inspiration award. Her current research project explores the various facets of clinical management of testicular cancer in dogs. As part of her research, Sierra aims to report the frequency of the condition and uncover potential risk factors that lead to its development. Also using VetCompass data, she will gather data from the clinical records of more than one million male dogs to answer specific questions. The research will then help establish current standards within the veterinary field and challenge their effectiveness, helping determine if alternative approaches to testicular cancer can enhance canine welfare. All findings will be disseminated to the public to help enhance public awareness and improve health outcomes in dogs.

Sierra Latshaw, undergraduate veterinary student at the RVC, said, “I am overjoyed and humbled to be selected as the 2022 undergraduate canine health award winner. This award will help for me to further my research on testicular cancer and disseminate the findings to improve canine welfare worldwide. 

Dr Dan O’Neill, associate professor of Companion Animal Epidemiology at the RVC and project supervisor for Sierra Latshaw, said, “The ICHA prize for Sierra is wonderful recognition that every veterinary student can aspire to actively contribute to evidence generation and improve animal welfare during their undergraduate training. Sierra’s outstanding VetCompass study on testicular cancer in dogs will help raise awareness of this distressing condition and alert owners on the signs to look out for in order to detect and manage this condition earlier.”

The prizes – which go towards new or continued research – will be formally presented to the students at a virtual ceremony taking place on 28 September.



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