Can pets fit into our busy modern lives?

Whether our modern world of social media and packed diaries is compatible with responsible pet ownership will be one of the key debates between leading vets and animal welfare organisations and charities at the annual Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) Discussion Forum at One Great George Street, London, next month (5 June).

Throughout the session, ‘Is modern life incompatible with pet ownership?’, the three-strong panel of experts will explore how the increase in pets in urban homes is impacting pet welfare, including the issue of separation anxiety and whether modern pets are less able to fulfil their welfare needs, such as expressing natural behaviours. The discussion will begin with an introduction from RSPCA Chief Veterinary Officer, James Yeates, who will examine pets’ role in our busy lives.

James Yeates, Chief Veterinary Officer - RSPCA, said:

“Vets often deal with immediate, specific issues as they are presented, but we can also use our knowledge and experience to look at the bigger questions. I am definitely not saying pets are incompatible with modern life, but there are aspects of modern life that create challenges for me and other pet owners.”

‘Is modern life incompatible with pet ownership?’ will be chaired by AWF Trustee and British Veterinary Association (BVA) President Gudrun Ravetz, with speakers for this session including:

  • James Yeates, RSPCA – Introduction: Where do pets fit into our busy lives?
  • Sarah Ellis, International Cat Care - Would you want to be a 21st century cat?
  • Rachel Casey, Dogs Trust - Is it a dog’s life?

The AWF Discussion Forum attracts delegates from a wide range of fields and presents the chance to discuss and share knowledge on challenging welfare issues. This year, the day-long Discussion Forum will also be holding sessions exploring the relationship between vets and horse welfare, and introducing a new ‘On the Pulse’ discussion to debate a topical issue. The ‘On the Pulse’ topic will be confirmed closer to the event. There will also be the opportunity to hear how AWF’s work turns donations into action for animal welfare, with presentations from two of the projects funded by the charity.

Chris Laurence, AWF Chair of Trustees, said:

“We’re proud of AWF’s commitment to finding practical solutions to the welfare problems of all animals. Education and discussion are key to our work and we invite all those interested in improving animal welfare to join the debate this year. With its emphasis on audience participation I’m sure that delegates will leave this unique event inspired to do what they can to bring about positive change.”

Gudrun Ravetz, President of the British Veterinary Association and session chair, said:

“Year on year, this is an exceptional conference that examines important issues at the forefront of animal welfare. Modern pet ownership feels particularly important, as more and more vets are seeing pets that have been bought due to the latest celebrity trend - with a greater emphasis being placed on how the animal looks, rather than the breed’s health.”

A limited number of tickets for the AWF Discussion Forum are still available, which includes an exclusive drinks reception on the evening of 5 June offering delegates the opportunity to continue discussing the Forum’s issues. For more information or tickets, please visit at