Traversing the moral distress minefield

Dr Noel was in a spot of bother. On the consulting table was a 3 year old black, heavily pregnant German Shepherd bitch. Her puppies had died inside her and she had a purulent vaginal discharge. Despite being flat and weak, the dog’s character was revealed in her effort to wag her tail at the anxious vet.

The vet’s anxiety was caused by the dog’s owner, a puppy-farm breeder, who was at this moment insisting that he euthanise the dog. Dr Noel explained to the breeder that Valentine – Valentine was the name the breeder had given the dog – could probably be saved if she was speyed without delay. She could then lead a normal life, albeit not one in which she had two or more litters year after year.

But the breeder would have none of it. Couldn’t Dr Noel see, he argued, Continue reading Traversing the moral distress minefield

Vet ethics: A quick whip around the racecourse

Melbourne’s Spring racing has again raised the question of the use of whips as performance aids in thoroughbreds. Jockey Zac Purton was fined $3000 over his “excessive” whipping of Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti. For the same ride, Purton collected $87,500 prize money.

Let’s begin an ethical investigation of this issue by imagining the following scenario. Suppose . . . → Read More: Vet ethics: A quick whip around the racecourse

Vet ethics: Animal protection in Singapore and Malaysia

Those who have travelled through neighbouring countries like Singapore and Malaysia may have paused more than once to consider the status of animal protection in those nations. Perhaps such a thought has arisen while wandering in a market place, or in view of grazing cattle, or when learning about the perilous state of wildlife in once luxuriant Malay rain forests.

Evidently, the seismic changes in animal welfare law and attitude have been most prominent in the West. Nonetheless, South East Asia has not been completely cut off from certain changes and influences, and Malaysia and Singapore are recipients of parts of the British legal tradition.

As someone who loves to travel in that region and who is also a veterinarian, I was interested to read of late an article in the Singapore Journal of Legal Studies about animal law in Singapore and Malaysia. Continue reading Vet ethics: Animal protection in Singapore and Malaysia

Fish intelligence, sentience and ethics

Fish are one of the most highly utilised vertebrate taxa by humans; they are harvested from wild stocks as part of global fishing industries, grown under intensive aquaculture conditions, are the most common pet and are widely used for scientific research. But fish are seldom afforded the same level of compassion or welfare as warm-blooded vertebrates. . . . → Read More: Fish intelligence, sentience and ethics

Vet ethics: Considering our consumption

On the recommendation of my vegan brother I read John Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals, which as you may know or have just now guessed, prosecutes an argument against meat eating. Safran Foer is a popular American novelist, and his novels have been turned into movies. He also has a major in philosophy. Early in Eating . . . → Read More: Vet ethics: Considering our consumption