With the peaceful Adriatic Sea to the right and the stunning Gran Sasso Mountain Range on the left, it is hard to imagine being stressed when this is your working environment - and this was my working environment during my week of training at Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell'Abruzzo e del Molise (IZSAM) in Abruzzo, Italy.
During this week I was introduced to the exciting and important activities that take place at IZSAM. I was presented with information about IZSAM's role as OIE collaborating centre for animal welfare and as a National Reference Centre for Urban Veterinary Hygiene and Non-Epidemic Emergencies. I received training on the Qualitative Behavioural Assessment for sheltered dogs and was taught about the valuable findings of the Shelter Quality Protocol and the human-animal relationship in long term dog shelters. The team at IZSAM also arranged for me to visit local dog shelters, visit the farm at Colleatterrato and meet professionals involved in dog population management. I visited both Pescara's Local Health Unit and the long-term shelter in Montesilvano, where I had the chance to learn about and discuss the overall dog population management situation in Italy.
In addition to meeting the excellent team at Torre del Cerrano (which is literally a castle on the beach), I was also able to meet the experts working at the IZSAM headquarters in Teramo. The professionals here provided me with guidance for my upcoming fieldwork in terms of epidemiological approaches to animal sampling and also introduced me to the technology available at the institute.
Overall, it was an extremely productive week at IZSAM and I really look forward to collaborating with IZSAM in the future - and of course travelling back to this stunning location!