The sheer number of cute videos online featuring cats, dogs and other animal companions shows how much humans love their furry family members, not to mention the amount of time people spend watching such videos – millions of hours each year, worldwide.
But with an increasing attachment to handheld devices and technology, and less interaction with nature, are humans becoming more disconnected with their natural environment, despite their attraction to their four-legged counterparts? That’s one of the topics international and local animal welfare experts will discuss at the 2015 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) National Animal Welfare conference, being held at the River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond May 2-5.
Keynote speaker Marc Bekoff, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, plans to address that topic in his presentation: “Rewilding our hearts: Animal emotions, compassionate conservation and the importance of individual animals”.
“Rewilding, in my view, is a personal and spiritual transformation to reconnect and to become re-enchanted with nature, including our connection with animals,” Bekoff says. “As we become alienated and estranged from nature, we ‘lose ourselves’ – when we detach from nature, we detach from whom we truly are.”
He notes existing science and research clearly show that animals are sentient beings who deserve to be understood and respected.
BC SPCA general manager of humane education Craig Naherniak notes that recent advances in animal science and welfare provide new insight into what our animal companions are thinking, and why they behave the way they do. Naherniak, who will also be speaking at the conference, says science-based findings are crucial in nurturing our connection with animals and is the foundation of the advocacy being done by the BC SPCA, CFHS and others to improve animal welfare standards.
Internationally renowned animal behaviourist and trainer Chirag Patel, based in the UK, will also speak at the conference, along with other well-known animal experts, including the BC SPCA’s chief scientific officer Dr. Sara Dubois, BC SPCA animal welfare manager Kim Monteith and the society’s stakeholder relations manager Geoff Urton.
“It’s great to see animal welfare groups and experts come together to share and collaborate,” says CFHS chief executive officer Barbara Cartwright. “While there has been excellent progress made in animal welfare, there is still much to be done, and the nation’s animal population can only benefit from the efforts of everyone working together on their behalf.”
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.