Most people would agree that animals should be treated humanely, but opinions on just what that entails vary widely in today's society. The typical American views pets as cherished family members and has little or no direct experiences with the animals used as food sources or animals used in testing the efficacy and safety of biomedical and other products destined for human use.

An expert panel assembled by the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine will describe current regulations regarding the welfare of livestock, research animals, companion animals, and zoo animals at a free community forum entitled "Of Pugs, Pigs, and Pandas: Animal Welfare at Home, Farm, Lab, and Zoo," to be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, at 2001 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana.

This forum will be the fourth and final in a spring 2013 series entitled "One Health & You: News You Can Use," organized by the veterinary college's Center for One Health Illinois. During the first hour, panelists will give brief presentations. An hour of questions from the audience will follow.

Speakers and topics for the forum include:

  • Dr. Mark Ernst, state veterinarian, Illinois Department of Agriculture: State regulatory issues
  • Dr. Janeen Salak-Johnson, University of Illinois College of ACES: Livestock welfare
  • Dr. Sheilah Robertson and Dr. Emily Patterson-Kane, American Veterinary Medical Association: The veterinary profession as leaders in animal welfare issues
  • Dr. Tom Meehan, veterinarian, Brookfield Zoo: Zoo animal welfare
  • Dr. Vickie Jarrell, University of Illinois College of ACES: Research animal welfare

The session will be repeated on May 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Discovery Center at Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Road. (Enter through the south entrance, by the high school. Directions can be found online.

"The purpose of the lecture series is to provide the general public with reliable information and to clear up misconceptions," says Dr. Jack Herrmann, one of the directors of the Center for One Health Illinois and an organizer of the series. "The series also calls attention to the way human, animal, and environmental health are interrelated."

More information is available online.

Organizations co-sponsoring the Urbana series include the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and several units on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, including the College of Medicine, the Illinois Natural History Survey, the Global Health Initiative, and McKinley Health Center.

Media sponsorship is provided by the News-Gazette and WDWS.

About the Center for One Health Illinois:

The philosophy of "one health" recognizes the interdependence of the health and well-being of the human population, wild and domestic animals, and the natural environment. The Center for One Health Illinois was established at the College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010 as a way to allow the college's expertise in environmental health, conservation medicine, and infectious diseases to inform and improve public policy and public health.

The Center focuses on research, training, and outreach efforts in three related areas:

  • improving preparedness and response to natural and intentional exposures of biological, chemical, and physical agents; ensuring safe and sustainable food production systems
  • understanding disease processes that occur at the interface of human and animal activities and their effects on the environment; and
  • educating health professionals who understand factors for human, animal and ecosystem health, how public health policy is developed, and how it affects the health of all three.

More information can be found on our website.