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Karen Hiestand

Teaching Fellow Small Animal Studies



After growing up on a dairy farm and studying for her veterinary degree at Massey University, Karen worked as a dairy/mixed vet for two years in her home country of New Zealand. In 2004 Karen migrated to the UK and worked for the next six years a locum vet in 50-60 different clinics around the country, from the outer Hebrides to Guernsey. In 2009 she moved into the charity sector in an advisory role with Cats Protection focussing on shelter medicine, pragmatic veterinary approach and animal welfare. While there Karen undertook an MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare at Edinburgh University, a BSc in Psychology from Massey University and is currently completing an MA in Medical Ethics and Law from Keele University.

Research interests

Karen is interested in the intersection between the role of vets in animal welfare, veterinary ethics and the mental health of veterinarians. She has undertaken research in pain education for veterinary undergraduates, suicidality in occupational groups - particularly caring professions including veterinarians, euthanasia in both humans and non-human animals including effects of grief, and issues around the veterinary profession's duty to clients, animals, society and themselves. She is currently working with colleagues on research to investigate the possible mitigating effects of ethical reasoning training on mental health in veterinarians.


Karen has been involved with numerous volunteer animal welfare programs around the world, mostly focusing on population control programs for dogs and cats, but also providing veterinary care in area without provision. Beginning in 2004 in Thailand she has worked with Pha Ngan Animal Care for many years, also volunteering with Kismet Account (Gibralter 2004, 2005, Grenada Spain 2005), Greek Cat Welfare (2006), Noistar (Kho Tao island, Thailand 2008), APAFF (Portugal, 2010).


Computer-based learning in animal pain for UK veterinary students: effect on learning and attitude towards animal pain. K. Hiestand and F. Langford. ISAE 2014 48th Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology and UFAW 2014


Head or Heart, Difficult Decisions in Feline Rescue: International Companion Animal Welfare Conference 2012

Decision making for the elderly cat in the homing centre: The Cat Group Conference International Cat Care 2016