Committee contemplation

When should we advise euthanasia for a terminally ill animal rather than palliative care? Should we reduce or waive the fee to save the life of an ill patient? Would it be a good idea to insist that patients who need surgical correction for significant hereditary problems also be desexed to prevent genetic transmission? Might we refer people for grief counselling when they appear to be having trouble coping? In this day and age, should we be killing healthy, non-dangerous animals simply because the animal’s owner requests it?

Ethical questions like these crop up in ordinary veterinary clinics and hospitals. Vets and nurses handle these questions in, as it were, an informal manner – sometimes by consulting their consciences and occasionally also by discussing them with friends and colleagues. As we know, however, vets/nurses often lack time to discuss these issues. Very often, they will not have received much formal education in bioethics or animal ethics. Continue reading Committee contemplation

Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK

The trend toward corporate veterinary practice ownership has been accelerating noticeably in recent years. Ten years ago it was estimated that around only 3 per cent of UK practices were owned by corporate companies, by last year that had risen to 10 per cent. In April this year a takeover merged two of the largest veterinary joint venture partnership (JVP) groups under a single management team.

Pets At Home is a nationwide retail chain of 345 stores selling pet foods and products, accessories, insurance and small pets employing 6,250 staff. Eighty six of the stores have grooming parlours and 116 house branches of Companion Care veterinary surgeries employing a further 1,200 people. The subject of the takeover, Vets 4 Pets, is another substantial JVP company with 93 practices spread across the UK. Both groups were formed in 2001, but their merger creates a single and formidable buying, discounting, advertising, training and management capability that independent, established practitioners and new start-up hopefuls will probably find very difficult to compete with. It also significantly reduces competition between veterinary JVP groups, with possible adverse impacts on job opportunities and conditions. Combined sales for both groups in the year to March 2013 amounted to £100 million (A$ 158 million). Pets At Home plan to retain both veterinary group ‘brand’ identities but continue to expand their operations and open more new franchised clinics.  Continue reading Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK

Bringing compassion to the ethical dilemma in killing kangaroos for conservation – comment on “Conservation Through Sustainable Use” by Rob Irvine

Ethical debate on the killing of kangaroos has polarised conservation and animal welfare science, yet at the heart of these scientific disciplines is the unifying aim of reducing harm to non-human animals.

This aim provides the foundation for common ground, culminating in the development of compassionate conservation principles that seek to provide mechanisms for achieving both conservation . . . → Read More: Bringing compassion to the ethical dilemma in killing kangaroos for conservation – comment on “Conservation Through Sustainable Use” by Rob Irvine

Pigeon Post from the UK

Do you remember the British drought … that never was (Pigeon Post, April 2012)? We’ve just ‘enjoyed’ the wettest June on record throughout most of the country and July seems to be following suit so far. The reservoirs are full, all water restrictions lifted and the newspapers ‘splashed’ with images of watercourses in spate and unfortunates mopping out their front rooms and businesses.  It’s highly unlikely that Andy Murray would have managed to lose his Wimbledon men’s singles final on schedule, but for the roof on Centre Court.

The consensus seems to be that climate change is bringing Britain warmer, but wetter summers than ever before.  Is our capricious weather finally going to become more predictable … i.e. wet all the time?! Continue reading Pigeon Post from the UK

Eagle Post

In what sport do competitors at times lie down in the middle of the course, unmotivated and bemused? The answer is cat agility tournaments, a competition in which cats run through a miniature obstacle course crammed with hurdles and tunnels. The phenomenon of cat agility contests started about 10 years ago when two couples involved in cat shows were at dinner and started talking about the tricks their cats did. They modified selected dog agility obstacles and showed them to their cats. From that chance meeting, International Cat Agility Tournaments (ICAT) was born. In 2004, cat shows began featuring agility contests, and they are now a fixture on the cat show circuit. As promoted on their website (, ICAT is devoted to “creating a new category of cat competition in which cats negotiate an obstacle course designed to display their speed, coordination, beauty of movement, physical conditioning, intelligence, training, and the quality and depth of their relationship with their owner, who trains with them and guides them through the course.” Continue reading Eagle Post