Kiwi Post: Remember When You Were Young

The greatest introduction to any song in the history of man is of course the almost nine minutes of instrumental that kick off “Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, by Pink Floyd. I defy anyone with an ounce of heart to sit through that 8:50 of creative genius without feeling moved.

That’s before the dulcet tones of Roger Waters ask us to ‘”Remember when we were young”. The lyrics are suitably poignant and the whole song is simply a masterpiece. Remember, this was created in an era when we were dropping napalm onto villagers in jungles and building more and more atomic bombs. Not much else from 40 years ago comes anywhere near to being as much value to humankind as this one song alone.

As veterinarians, we like to think of ourselves as scientists. We consider evidence and we weigh up cause and effect. We talk of evidence-based medicine. We argue the science to justify the procedure. Continue reading Kiwi Post: Remember When You Were Young

Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK

February saw the status of veterinary nurses in the UK enhanced by a Royal Charter conferring professional recognition and requiring accountable regulation. From now on Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs) will be subject to rules similar to those governing their veterinary surgeon colleagues. The RVN’s will be overseen by the vet’s regulatory body the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). RVN’s will be permitted to carry out minor operations but will be required to abide by a code of professional conduct, declare any convictions, cautions or adverse findings and complete 45 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) over a rolling three year period – i.e. an average of 15 hours per annum. The annual registration fee for RVN’s is currently set at £61 (A$120), registration for veterinary surgeons is £299 ($587) p.a. and their compulsory CPD requirement is 105 hours over three years.

Another piece of news with more personal royal associations is the apparent decline in the popularity of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi in the UK – a breed long favoured by The Queen. The Kennel Club (KC) has reported that the breed’s popularity has been in decline since a peak of over 9,000 registrations in 1960. Continue reading Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK

Eagle Post: Tom Donnelly writes from the US

In 2016, a new US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy will give veterinarians a key role in combating a surge in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. For the first time, the agency will require veterinarians, not farmers, to decide when antibiotics are administered. While medical doctors issue antibiotics by prescription only, farmers and food companies have been able to buy the same or similar drugs over the counter to add to feed and water. Antibiotics not only help prevent disease but enable livestock to grow faster on less feed. Today, about 80 per cent of all antibiotics used in the US go to food-producing animals. The new FDA directive is meant to guard against the overuse of the drugs in American meat production. But by enlisting the help of veterinarians, a Reuters examination found, the FDA will be empowering a profession that not only has allegiances to animals, farmers and public health, but also has pervasive and undisclosed financial ties to drug manufacturers.

The relationships between medical doctors and the pharmaceutical industry are subject to strict rules. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act (2010) has disclosed billions of dollars in payments to doctors from drug companies. There is a reason financial transparency was put in place for physicians – increasing evidence of conflicts of interest influencing doctors’ decisions. However, no laws or regulations, including the new FDA directives, require veterinarians to reveal financial connections to drug companies.

Drug and medical-device companies are pouring millions of dollars a year into research and development of pet medicines, Continue reading Eagle Post: Tom Donnelly writes from the US

Beating the bear bile trade

Would you consider leaving behind your home, moving overseas, and dedicating your life to the welfare of suffering animals?

I wondered whether I would do this when I met the founder of Animals Asia, Jill Robinson, at the Minding Animals Conference in New Delhi. Actually, I wondered less about whether I could leave the comforts of home and more about whether I would have the determination required to give over my life to animals in the face of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles and wretched suffering.

Jill has been fighting the bear bile trade in Asia – which is principally in China but also in Vietnam, Laos, and Korea – since the early 1990’s. There are in excess of 10,000 “factory-farmed” bile bears in China and 2,000 in Vietnam. Animals Asia has re-homed 400 bears to its bear rescue centres, located in Chengdu and Tam Dao.

Extracting the bile of hunted bears has occurred for thousands of years in China. Continue reading Beating the bear bile trade

Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon’s RCVS Survey of the Veterinary Professions 2014 was published online in September. According to the RCVS it provides a ‘snapshot of the current state of the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions.’ The four-yearly survey was carried out by the independent Institute for Employment Studies and collated responses from 6,988 RCVS registered veterinary surgeons (27 per cent of the profession) and 3,612 registered/listed veterinary nurses (31 per cent of the profession) across a wide range of work related issues.

Naturally different conclusions about the status of the professions can be drawn depending on the reader’s standpoint, but the results do clarify the actuality underlying some widely held perceptions. For instance the continued ‘feminisation’ of the veterinary profession as for the first time Continue reading Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK