Published: 20 Sep 2022 | Last Updated: 20 Sep 2022 16:22:07

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 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, 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 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 28th September.

Notes to Editors

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About the RVC

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a Member Institution of the University of London.
  • It is one of the few veterinary schools in the world that hold accreditations from the RCVS in the UK (with reciprocal recognition from the AVBC for Australasia, the VCI for Ireland and the SAVC for South Africa), the EAEVE in the EU, and the AVMA in the USA and Canada.
  • The RVC is ranked as the top veterinary school in the world in the QS World University Rankings by subject, 2022.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.  
  • The RVC is a research led institution with 88% of its research rated as internationally excellent or world class in the Research Excellence Framework 2021.
  • The RVC provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals and first opinion practices in London and Hertfordshire.

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