A few weeks ago, the highly acclaimed animal welfare advocate Temple Grandin came to speak at Tufts. She graced us with her presence, both at the undergraduate campus in Medford and the veterinary campus in North Grafton. I was thrilled to get the chance to meet her after having watched her biopic a few years ago. I heard her speak to a large audience in one of the lecture halls. She talked at length about fear in animals and how they sense the world differently than us humans. She also led an animal handling lab in the beef barn to show students how to effectively reduce stress in animals with which we work (sadly, I was unable to attend this part of the day).
In addition to the lectures, she opened up to students in a more intimate question and answer session, hosted by the Student Livestock Organization. She shared thoughts about her recent travels. She praised European standards for humane slaughter and policies allowing drugs to be given for twice the withdrawal time. Her thoughts were not confined within the realm of farm animal practice. She suggested that veterinarians use non-slip covers or mats on the high table during physical exams of companion animals in order to prevent slipping, which causes agitation and leads to a braced position. We also learned some random fun (or not-so-fun) facts. Saudi Arabia has dried up its deep ground aquifer and consequently will have to stop farming soon. Termite mounds in the Australian Outback are emitting more methane than cows are emitting. All in all, Temple was a wealth of information, and it was an honor to learn from such a crusader of animal welfare.