Meet our student researchers: Tobias Hunter



University of Liverpool student Tobias Hunter  focused his AWF research project on "Importing overseas rescue dogs: An investigation into issues seen in UK veterinary practice".


Q: Tell us a bit about you

I'm a final year student at the University of Liverpool. My particular interests are in exotics, ECC (Emergency and Critical Care), and EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) - I'm actually Co-Founder and Co-Director of an EDI consultancy company which trains veterinary teams and practices in allyship and challenging discrimination.

Q: How did you hear about the AWF student grant and what made you apply?

I found out about the AWF grants through emails from the University. I saw that a student I knew had completed a project the year before and so I messaged them to see how they found the experience, and then decided to apply myself.

Q: Why did you choose this project to work on?

As someone who is very interested in travelling and learning about other cultures, I find the whole concept of street dogs fascinating - from how the dogs themselves behave to how the locals interact with them. I've then seen the impacts of this when overseas rescue dogs are brought to the UK and put into unfamiliar house environments with the rise of behavioural consults and fear of agressive dogs in veterinary practice. It was therefore exciting to get the chance to look at the statistics of just how common this issue is, where the rescue dogs are coming from, and exactly what issues we were seeing them in practice for.

Q: What did you hope to achieve?

The main aim was to pinpoint the most common 'source' for these rescue dogs and cats. We then wanted to look at why they were being presented in a consult - was it behavioural? was it infectious diseases? All of this would give us information to inform the profession about how best to manage risks of introducing new diseases into the country.

Q: What did you enjoy the most about your project?

I actually liked the statistics side. I'm someone that enjoys number crunching and tasks that require attention to detail so it actually became rather therapeutic coding all the consults!

Q: What did you find challenging (if anything)?

The statistics! Getting started with them was the hard part where you have to figure out how you're going to analyse the data, what program to use, what tests to run etc. But once you get going then it's ok.

Q: What have you learned from your project and this experience?

I now have the experience of using pivot tables in Excel which will definitely come in handy for future research projects. I also got valuable experience of writing up a report (which helped for my third year research project!) and also public speaking as I presented the findings of my research project at the AWF Discussion Forum.

Q: Finally, what advice would you give to students wanting to get into research/apply for an AWF grant?

Make sure you have the time available in the summer - it can get quite busy fitting the research project in if you're trying to do lots of other stuff - but the good news is it counts as EMS!