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I did something new last week....I got involved in the first ever Official Veterinary Surgeon online conference as a delegate.

Now I know in many respects that's not new. Because of Covid-19 many of us are having to work online using Zoom, Teams, Facetime or something else. For me when my local village pub-quiz/whatsapp/online chat group says, "....hey! Why don't we do something online!" it doesn't fill me with joy. It's just more screen-time when I want to be active, out in the fresh air or pursuing the hobbies that the government's response to SARS Cov 2 or whatever you want to call it has not yet killed.

But this was the first time the government vets have run an online conference. One of the great things about online conferences is that you can engage with them whenever it suits you, day or night. You can fit the CPD into work rather than fitting work round the CPD. And there's no need to tell yourself that you have to forsake that hobby that keeps you going because you're thinking, "...I need to top up my CPD record." For me I was able to fit this conference around my work as it was online and I could catch up on things I'd missed and drop in and out of it as I needed to.

For many of us the sound of a conference for official government vets will not initially be very appealing. It's easy to equate it with form-filling and TB testing. It may also, for some of us, bring up memories of being nagged by someone who has just left a nice warm office to lecture us over biosecurity but we had to fit them into our busy round of six to seven farm calls, clients putting unreasonable demands on us and throwing us extra "...while you're here requests".

But I think this conference was a big success. For those of us who have done lots of presenting we can recognize the experience and the professionalism of the presenters who are also experienced and manage to be both interesting and entertaining online, just as they are in a traditional venue. For me though the big realization is just how accessible this format makes the working life of a colleague doing a difficult job. I find it impossible to watch a presentation from someone who is wrestling with the puppy trade and having to manage a significant number of busy ferry ports with half-a-dozen staff and not feel huge empathy. "....are those all the resources available to you to manage a growing trade of 100s of thousand of animals moving day and night?.....Wow!!!!"

Even if the free-funding from APHA to get involved in the anticipated extra demand for export certificates does not float your boat (yes they are offering to pay) as you watch this growing movement of animals and consider the implications you also start to realize that if you are involved in dogs and cats the changes ahead of us could bring novel parasites, or rabies to your practice door; people are moving exotics across borders as well as puppies; cattle, sheep and pigs or their products all need to be exported; horses are going to move across borders, either for competition purposes, the meat trade or both. There is no part of practice life that this conference did not touch in some way.

It isn't just the case that that this conference is worth a look sometime: The people who are moving animals for social purposes, commerce or a grey area somewhere in between are moving them again now....there's been an increase in the last few months. And because we are less than three months from our final departure from the European Union the discussions and negotiations that affect the movement of pets and livestock and animal products are happening now

And that means this conference is worth a look right now.

The link is here. PS: don't forget the free funding.