More Speaker bio's coming soon!
João B. Rodrigues DVM PhD
João received his degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal in 2007.
He spent the next two years doing clinical work in Portugal and Spain, mostly with endangered breeds of donkeys (the Mirandês and the Zamorano-leonés donkeys), where He has been responsible for many workshops focused on donkeys health and welfare. During this same period he developed his interest, knowledge and skills in veterinary dentistry.
In 2009, He began his PhD program, focusing on research in the field of donkey dentistry in collaboration with the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD) and at Complutense University of Madrid. After finishing his PhD in 2013, he worked in the FMV-ULHT (Lisbon, Portugal) and in UTAD (Vila Real, Portugal) as a Professor of Medicine and Surgery of Equids (2013 to 2017).
João B. Rodrigues is also a former partner and board member of the Portuguese Society of Veterinary Dentistry, and is classified as an Expert in Veterinary Dentistry and Maxillofacial Surgery by the Complutense University of Madrid.
João B. Rodrigues is also a guest trainer in several international projects focused on improving the welfare of working equids worldwide.
As a result of his research work, João has attended some of the most relevant national and international conferences in his research field, being also the author of scientific papers in the field of donkey dentistry.
João B. Rodrigues is currently a member of The Donkey Sanctuary – UK, working in the Research and Operational Support department as the Lead – Welfare.
We would like to thank the ASPCA and Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue for their generous support of both the 2013 and 2014 programs!
Eric Davis DVM MS DACVS DACVIM
Eric graduated from the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine in 1977. He worked as a farrier prior to his veterinary training and has experience in private practice, veterinary academia (faculty University of Tennessee, staff veterinarian at Iowa State University and Purdue University), specialty practice, and veterinary aid programs. He is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and the American College of Veterinary Internal
Medicine (LA). While a faculty member at the University of Tennessee, in 1996,
Eric started Remote Area Medical Veterinary Services, to provide veterinary care in underserved rural communities in the USA and abroad. These have included Indian Reservations and remote communities in 12 states in the USA. Internationally, he has run or participated in projects in Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Egypt, and Sri Lanka.
Currently, Eric is an associate veterinarian with the International Animal Welfare Training Institute, at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, working directly with students and concentrating on world equine health and welfare problems.
Bureau of Land Management
Wild Horse and Burro Program
California State Office
After earning her BS in animal science at Cornell University in 1990, Amy went on to Yale University to earn her master's degree in conservation biology in 1995. In 2000, she went to work for the BLM as a Wild Horse and Burro Specialist in central Nevada, bringing with her a BLM mustang she had adopted from a neighbor.
As a Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, hands-on burro experience seemed a good idea, so in 2003, Amy adopted a 2 year-old gelding from the BLM. Amy and her burro have participated in numerous parades, fairs, shows, expos, and visited schools educating people about the value of the burros. Amy has been the Wild Horse and Burro Program Manager for BLM California, based in Sacramento, since 2008, where she and her burro still do as much outreach as possible.
Ben is one of the UK's leading equine trainers, with a background in agriculture and a family history working with heavy horses. Ben has worked with horses, mules and donkeys all over the world: from mustangs and racehorses in California, stock horses in Australia, and working equines in Cambodia and Ethiopia. His approach utilizes the science of equine behavior rather than a single training method. This combined with his ability to work with human behavior and his delivery of training is unique, ensuring an outstanding training experience that is enjoyable and life changing.
Karen Rickards FRCVS PhD
Karen Rickards Qualified from Bristol University in 1994. Worked in private practice with a predominantly equine caseload and then did a PhD at The Royal Veterinary College investigating airway inflammation in horses with RAO followed by a postdoctoral position in the same subject area. Taught Pharmacology at Kings College London and then took up my current position as Principal Veterinary Surgeon at the Donkey Sanctuary where I have been for the last 7 years. We provide veterinary care for the 2,500 donkeys at the sanctuary and also support to colleagues caring for donkeys in our European bases. We provide training and education to vets, vet students, equine dental students, donkey owners, farriers and apprentices. We also provide help and advice to vets around the world.
Patricia M. Demers - Trainer/instructor/ competitor/owner- Carpe Diem Farm
Patricia is a multi- talented trainer/ instructor/ competitor, whose years of experience are extremely varied. I have over 25 years driving experience which includes: commercial carriage work, driving for Knott’s Berry Farm, and running her training business. she also rode Mounted Patrol where she was a Sergeant/Supervisor. She rode hunters astride for many years before trying hunters side-saddle. She currently shows her Hackney Horse in driving competitions.
She is a graduate of and a recognized instructor and program evaluator for the Carriage Association of America Driver Proficiency Program. She judges pleasure carriage driving shows, driven dressage, and competitive trail events as well as static carriage competitions. Her many years of driving training experience includes: single, pair, tandem, and 4 in hand hitches. she works with Minis to Drafts, mules and donkeys, specializing in pleasure, obstacle, driven dressage, and combined driving. She enjoys starting horses in harness and under saddle.
Her training methods stress gentle, quiet obedience with a willingness to please.
She enjoys teaching clinics on driving and confidence building for both horse & rider, and always stresses safety with lots of patience. She loves working with beginner riders and drivers and volunteers frequently at horse events and demonstrations!
Her professional memberships include the Carriage Association of America- Board member at large, endowment and driver proficiency committee member, the American Driving Society, Whip R Snapper Driving Society, and the Arizona Driving Society
She recently relocated from So. California to Prescott Valley, AZ.
Leanne Proops PhD
Leanne is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology, University of Portsmouth, U.K. She holds an honours degree in Experimental Psychology (1st) from Sussex University and a Masters degree (dist.) in Animal Behaviour from Exeter University. Her main research interest is in equine behaviour, publishing studies assessing welfare, cognition and social behaviour in donkeys, horses and mules. In 2009 she was awarded the Cozzarelli Prize at the National Academy of Science in America. Leanne has studied domestic and free-ranging of horses and donkeys in the UK, Japan and America. Working closely with the Donkey Sanctuary, current projects include a comparison of donkey, horse and mule welfare needs across different climates.
Amy McLean PhD
Dr. McLean grew up on a donkey and mule farm in Georgia. She has devoted her professional career to conducting donkey and mule research that centers on improved management and well being of these animals.
She earned her Ph.D. in Equine Science from Michigan State University, where she focused on improving working donkey welfare in Mali, West Africa. Her research on this front has continued throughout her career, taking her to many countries, stemming from the idea that helping draught animals will ultimately help the people who care for them.
She is currently the equine operations supervisor for the University of California Davis Animal Science program. In her free time serves as a board of director for the American Association of Equine Practitioners Equitarian Initiative.
Francesca Compostella DVM PhD
"After gaining her veterinary degree, Francesca trained for five years in America, Scotland and England; completing a surgical residency in 2012. She worked as a surgeon and generic equine vet in south east England before joining SPANA as Veterinary Director in 2014 to help provide free veterinary care to working animals and train local vets, students, owners and paraprofessionals. She has since been overseeing all SPANA's veterinary, emergency and community operations internationally. "
Head of Programmes
The Donkey Sanctuary
Alex Mayers has been working with The Donkey Sanctuary’s international teams for nearly four years. In his role as Head of Programmes, he leads on global themes and campaigns such as donkeys in industry and production.
Most recently he has been leading The Donkey Sanctuary’s evidence-gathering and campaign to tackle the shocking consequences of the global trade in donkey skins.
Before donkeys found him, he worked on environmental, human development, peace, language and cultural projects, mostly with an educational focus, in countries including the Philippines, South Africa, Kenya, Turkey, New Zealand, Malaysia and Japan.
Pierre Lessard DVM
Pierre Lessard is an equine veterinarian who has retired from practice, but still is active with his own horses and volunteer work. His experience with donkeys evolved while working 5 years with the Wild Burro Rescue Center in Olancha, California, and from partnering with a now 3-year-old donkey he adopted as a weanling. His interests include animal welfare, equine behavior/communication, and geriatric medicine/rehabilitation. He is also highly interested in equine therapy programs, and volunteers at Hope for Horses and Kids.
Elizabeth M. Tadros, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (LAIM)
Elizabeth is an Assistant Professor of Endocrinology at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Tadros attended veterinary school at The Ohio State University, graduating magna cum laude with the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2007. After veterinary school, she pursued a one-year internship in Equine Internal Medicine at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Kentucky. In 2008, she entered the graduate program in Comparative and Experimental Medicine at the University of Tennessee and received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in 2011. Her dissertation research focused on understanding associations between systemic inflammation and laminitis, and on examining inflammatory responses in horses with Equine Metabolic Syndrome. She joined Michigan State University as a resident in Large Animal Internal Medicine in 2012. After completing her residency and becoming a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2015, she joined the College of Veterinary Medicine’s faculty. In addition to endocrinopathic and sepsis-associated laminitis, her research interests include hepatic fat metabolism in horses with endocrine diseases, immune function in obesity, and the impact of obesity on recovery from critical illness. Dr. Tadros also provides diagnostic services, endocrinology consultations, and continuing education for veterinarians and owners through the Endocrinology Section of the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
Philip W. Mshelia DVM
A faculty member in the Department of Veterinary Medicine, at Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria, he has experience in private practice and community horse projects. He also consults for Fifth Chukker Polo and Country Club -a facility that host 3 prestigious international polo tournaments in Nigeria and England (UNICEF-Access Bank Charity Shield Polo Tournament).
He has done invited lectures, short-stay laboratory programs in Cornell and Purdue University, and visits to observe in equine clinics/hospitals in Indiana and Ithaca. He worked with a Cornell Student on Expanding Horizons (service learning) in the summer of 2017 in Zaria, Nigeria to address issues on health, welfare, and ethno-veterinary practices in the Zaria equine community. He is presently working in Nigeria and Niger republic to improve donkey welfare, especially in equine markets and slaughter houses.
He is also a member of the National Association of Equine Affiliated Academics (NAEAA) and the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES).
Francisco Javier Navas González, DVM MSc
Francisco Javier received his degree in Veterinary Sciences from the University of Córdoba in Andalusia (Spain) in 2010. In 2011, he joined their AGR 218 research group focussed on the breeding and conservation of domestic animal genetic resources. He started supplying technical assistance to the Union of Breeders of the Andalusian donkey breed and in 2012 he completed his Master’s degree on Zootechnics and sustainable management: Ecological and Integrated Livestock Husbandry.
In 2013, he began his PhD programme, focused on behavioural genetics codirected by the University of Córdoba and the Autonomous University of Barcelona. From 2012, up until the date, Javier has focused his studies on the genetic inclusion of behavioural and functional traits in the breeding programme of the critically endangered Andalusian donkey breed, which resulted in the publication of several international papers and congress proceedings.
In 2012, he began the international initiative “The Worldwide Donkey Breed Project” (WDBP) which connects researchers involved in donkey care or any other related science, parallel to the Biodonkey consortium of the CONBIAND Network which focuses its effort on the genetic study of the donkey species in European and Iberoamerican countries. In 2015, as a result of the WDBP, the encyclopaedia entitled “Current donkey production and Functionality” arose as a collaborative work, published in both Spanish (2016) and English (2017). Two remaining volumes are to be released in 2017/2018.
Stephen and Gloria Decater, Live Power Community Farm
Located in Covelo California and established in 1977, the farm is unique among small organic farms in a number of ways. The name Live Power reflects their choice to cultivate with the renewable energy of draft animals rather than the fossil energy of machinery, and their commitment to biodynamic farming. The presence of the word “community” in the name of the farm reflects thier vision.
In 1972, organic farming pioneer Alan Chadwick established the Round Valley Garden Project. Stephen Decater and aspiring farmer who had studied under Chadwick at UC Santa Cruz joined him soon after.
Although there was much work to be done on the farm in those early years, the greatest challenge was finding a marketing path that would allow them to do the type of diversified farming on the scale that they wanted. After spending a number of years selling their produce through local markets, the Decaters realized they wanted to change more than the way food is grown; they wanted to change the way it is distributed to, and perceived by, its consumers. To this end, the Decaters established one of the first Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA) farms in California in 1988. Since then the Live Power Community Farm has prospered and the Decaters have acted as mentors to many young people who want a deeper attachment to the land and a more sustainable way to raise food.
Mactar Seck DVM M.Sc.
Programme Manager, Brooke West Africa
Mactar received his Master of Animal Sciences from Laval University in Québec and his Doctorate in Veterinary Medecine from École Inter-états des Sciences et Médecine Vétérinaires. Dakar (Sénégal)
He spent nine years as a researcher, five with with the Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA) in Dakar, and four years with a Canadian firm, and eight years as a veterinary consultant in Senegal before landing at the Brooke
Erick Lundgren MS, PhD
Eric recently completed his Masters at Arizona State University, where he studied the ecology of wild burros. In particular, he studied how wild burros dig wells to groundwater in the Sonoran Desert, and how this behavior increases water availability and provides resources used by numerous other species. He began his PhD at the Centre for Compassionate Conservation at the University of Technology Sydney this August and will continue to study wild burros as well as other introduced megafauna species around the world. He is particularly interested in how the 'novel' communities of the modern world compare and contrast to those of the past, and what these patterns mean for how we respond to and understand changing global biodiversity.
Claire Thunes PhD
Based in Sacramento, California, Clair owns and operates Summit Equine Nutrition LLC an independent equine nutrition consulting company. She works with owners, trainers, and veterinarians across the United States and around the world to take the guesswork out of feeding horses, mules and donkeys. Born in England, Thunes earned her undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University in Scotland and her master’s and doctorate in nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Growing up, she competed in a wide array of disciplines and was an active member of the United Kingdom Pony Club. Today, she serves as the regional supervisor for the Sierra Pacific region of the United States Pony Club. As a nutritionist, she works with a wide range of equids, from World Equestrian Games competitors to miniature donkeys and everything in between. Additionally, she teaches equine nutrition and equine exercise physiology at University of California Davis and equine health at Cosumnes River College.