Cordy DuBois began her academic career at York University, where she graduated First Class with a specialized Honours degree in Conservation Ecology. Despite her interest in migratory songbirds, the subject of her undergraduate thesis, she took a “year off” to return to the study of her favourite childhood animal, completing an Equine Studies Diploma with Distinction from Equine Guelph in the Fall of 2012. It was here that her passion for science and horses converged and encouraged her to pursue a Master’s Degree in Animal and Poultry Science from the University of Guelph with Dr. Katrina Merkies.
During her Master’s degree she validated two measures used to evaluate a horse’s well-being, examining lying behaviour with the use of automated recording devices and measuring fecal cortisol metabolites using an enzyme immunoassay. During these projects she gained valuable experience both in the laboratory and the field, collecting samples as well as observing and recording behaviours. The Master’s by coursework also exposed her to the process of assessing animal welfare, as well as highlighted the lack of research in the equine sector (especially when compared to other large animal species).
It was with this in mind that, after completing her Master’s degree, she went straight into the PhD program, with a project that focused on gaining insight into the perception of welfare issues in the Canadian equine industry, as well as designing an assessment tool based on the recently revised National Farm Animal Care Council's Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines and the most up-to-date scientific literature. Over the course of her PhD she has surveyed industry participants and industry professionals alike, hoping to gain a better understanding of equine issues as perceived by those who live and work within the industry. Now, in the second phase of her project, she looks to pilot test the assessment tool she’s created – and its accompanying training program – to understand how best to approach the evaluation of equine welfare in Canada.
Cordy has travelled both out of province and out of country to learn the necessary techniques to effectively and objectively assess animals and audit facilities. Though she did not complete the shadow auditing which would have granted her full certification from the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization, she attended their immersive three-day course in Alberta where she was taught by experts how to audit slaughter plants to ensure proper facility design and handling of animals. She also graduated from Colorado State University and Code 3 Associates' Equine Investigations Academy Level 1, a program designed for animal investigators to help them conduct better cruelty investigations.
Nakonechney L, DuBois C, Merkies K. 2016. Current perceptions and usage of training equipment by horse enthusiasts in Canada. Accepted to J App Anim Welf Sci
Merkies K, DuBois C, Marshall K, Parois S, Graham L, Haley D. 2106. A two-stage method to approach weaning stress in horses using a physical barrier to prevent nursing. App Anim Beh Sci; 183:68-76 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2016.07.004
DuBois C, Zakrajsek E, Haley DB, Merkies K. 2014. Validation of triaxial accelerometers to measure the lying behaviour of adult domestic horses. Animal available online ahead of print doi:10.1017/S175173111400247X