BSAVA Congress ‘Big Issues’ help profession tackle challenges ahead

1 March 2018

The puppy trade, Brexit and modernising animal licensing and inspection activities will form this year’s ‘Big Issues’ stream at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) annual Congress on Friday 6th April.

The theme for the day is: ‘There is nothing permanent except change: change is constant and inevitable’ and the aim is to help the profession understand and tackle the challenges ahead. The stream focuses on areas currently undergoing change and the implications for the profession, while highlighting the impact on the wider societal landscape.

Speakers, including Professor the Lord Trees, RCVS President Professor Stephen May, DEFRA’s Head of Companion Animal Welfare Policy Team Andy Howarth and Paula Boyden, Dog’s Trust veterinary director will discuss how the profession can flex and adapt in the face of constant change.

Adrienne Conroy, BSAVA’s Head of Policy and Scientific Communication, has programmed and will chair the three panel discussions.

She said: “BSAVA plays a vital role in providing support and guidance across the small animal veterinary profession and Congress is an ideal place to discuss some of the challenging issues we face.

“Vets in practice are unlikely to escape an encounter with at least one, if not all, of the topics explored, so we’re proud to have speakers participating in the sessions who are leading the way in these areas. I am looking forward to the discussions as part of an ever-changing and evolving profession.”


9.15 – 11.00    The Puppy Trade: A Constantly Moving Target & the Role of the Veterinary Profession

11.15 – 12.30  Brexit – Challenges & Solutions: The Impact on the Veterinary Workforce

14.05 – 15.30  Modernisation of Animal Licensing & Inspection: Veterinary Opportunities & Challenges


The Puppy Trade: A Constantly Moving Target & the Role of the Veterinary Profession


  • Paula Boyden BVetMed MRCVS, Veterinary Director, Dogs Trust
  • Sharon Edwards, Animal Health Officer, City of London Authority
  • Gilly Mendes Ferreira, Head of Education & Policy Scottish SPCA
  • Mark Rafferty, Chief Inspector Scottish SPCA

Changes to pet travel rules have seen huge rises in cases of illegally imported dogs. The trade is worth nearly £13m in some regions and links to organised crime and tax evasion are not unheard of. The Prime Minister has pledged to introduce reforms. In providing insights into the trade and the extent to which it infiltrates society, this session will seek to help vets understand the scale of the trade, the importance of their role in tackling it and how they can deal with scenarios encountered.

Brexit – Challenges & Solutions: The Impact on the Veterinary Workforce


  • Professor the Lord Trees BVM&S, PhD, DVetMed (hc) DVMS MRCVS Hon FRSE
  • Professor Stephen May VetMB PhD DVR DEO DipECVS FHEA FRCVS, RCVS President 2017-18

Each year around 50% of vets registering to practise in the UK are from overseas, the majority from the EU. Any rapid reduction in numbers is likely to cause significant labour shortages. Brexit has generated much uncertainty whilst exposing and exacerbating existing recruitment problems. This session will look at the work that has been done by the profession on Brexit to date. It will also take an in-depth look at the complexity of the broader veterinary workforce landscape, how Brexit has compounded existing challenges and will consider potential solutions to workforce issues.

Modernisation of Animal Licensing & Inspection: Veterinary Opportunities & Challenges


  • Andy Howarth, Head of Companion Animal Welfare Policy Team, DEFRA
  • Chris Laurence MBE QVRM TD BVSc FRCVS, Chair of the Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG)
  • Mark Berry, Principle EHO, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Chair of the National Companion Animal Focus Group (NCAFG)

The Prime Minister is committed to modernising the existing licensing system for premises undertaking animal-related activities including pet shops and both boarding and breeding establishments. Reforms due in 2018 will affect the fourth largest group of business licences issued by local authorities and vets will play a critical role whether inspecting premises or in advising local authority inspectors. This session will aim to provide vets with an insight into the legislative changes and will highlight the challenges likely to be encountered when supporting local authorities and making judgements affecting commercial businesses.