ASAVA names 2014’s Practitioner of the Year

The Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association has announced that the 2014 Practitioner of the Year is Mary Porter, a clinician in Sydney.

The award did not surprise Porter’s colleagues, who applauded her diagnostic and psychological skills and said, “She enjoys complex cases, listens to her clients and likes to give emotional support to owners.”

Porter graduated from the University of Sydney in 1979 with first class honors and the university medal. Despite encouragement to pursue an academic career, Porter chose to work with Henry Hirschhorn and Graham Lester at Pittwater Animal Hospital. She worked with Hirschhorn and Lester for the next 8 years reminiscing that “their thoughtful encouragement helped develop my enthusiasm for general practice and surgery – they were wonderful.”

While still a young practitioner, Porter became a Member of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in Canine Medicine, now the Small Animal Medicine chapter.

In 1987, Porter moved to Canberra. She began research under the late Bede Morris at the John Curtin School of Medical Research on splitting lamb embryos and investigating their immunological disparities while working with David Pembrey at Wanniassa Hills Veterinary Hospital.

Although research proved successful, Porter found her passion lay in clinical practice.

In 1989, she returned to Sydney and moved to Chatswood Veterinary Clinic with Fiona Smith and a team of “wonderful supportive colleagues.” Continue reading ASAVA names 2014’s Practitioner of the Year

Vet Ethics: How can we give animals a voice?

Australia is a wealthy, modern, civilised, country. Many Australians would say that our country, on the whole, looks after its citizens fairly well. We might also think that Australia cares well for its animals. Perhaps we even believe that Australia is one of the world leaders in animal welfare; and that, as Gandhi said, the way we treat our animals is a measure of our moral maturity as a nation.

This rosy view was challenged when Swiss lawyer Antoine Goetschel visited Australia as the keynote speaker for the 2013 Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series.

Goetschel is regarded as one of the world’s leaders in animal law. He was founder and Director of the Foundation for the Animal in the Law in Zurich. And he has held the unique position of animal welfare attorney for the Canton of Zürich. In this role, Goetschel has represented animals in hundreds of criminal cases in Switzerland. He has also been active in Swiss animal law referendums. The basic position he holds is that while we may use animals for food, research, and so on, we should accord them a serious level of respect.

A month or two back I wrote about the idea of vets being advocates for animals as well as for animal owners. An animal advocate does not necessarily believe that animal and human interests are of equal importance. Rather, an advocate is someone who speaks on behalf of another. Goetschel believes that animals need advocates for the same reason as Gandhi: animals cannot speak for, or defend, themselves; those that use them can. Continue reading Vet Ethics: How can we give animals a voice?

Geoffrey Lodge: from Boyup to Queen’s Birthday honours

Western Australian ornithologist Geoffrey Lodge has been recognised for his work studying birds as part of the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2011. Geoffrey Lodge was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia, for service to ornithology which caps a remarkable career involving over forty years volunteer work studying birds in association with the WA Museum.

Geoffrey is a former farmer and shire president from the Western Australian wheat belt town of Boyup Brook, who is now retired along with his wife Diana living near Albany on WA’s south coast. Geoffrey’s interest in birds started from an early age growing up on a farm near Beverley, which is about 120kms east of Perth. Continue reading Geoffrey Lodge: from Boyup to Queen’s Birthday honours