Veterinary Ethics


Veterinary Ethics

Veterinary Ethics is the application of ethical theories, principles, and rules by professionals and paraprofessionals in resolving ethical dilemmas in the practice of Veterinary Care. In order to resolve ethical dilemmas, a minimum understanding of and exposure to moral theories is essential. Branches of Veterinary ethics are described with a greater focus on normative ethics or theories discussed. The fundamental problem of veterinary ethics relating toveterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) and complications arising from the dualist nature of veterinary medicine pitting professionalism against commercial interests are explored. 

Having laid the theoretical basis, the rest of the entry of examines various issues with ethical dimensions, including euthanasia, disease control by mass slaughter, genetic manipulation, ethno-veterinary medicine, wildlife capture, veterinary public health and One Health Ethical Issues. The enforcement of fair competition practices is forcing a reexamination of relationship between vets, leading to change in professional ethics.

For practical purpose, Veterinary Ethics have been divided into four branches which are

  1. Descriptive veterinary ethics
  2. Official veterinary ethics
  3. Administrative veterinary ethics
  4. Normative veterinary ethics

Why and How Ethics are taught? According to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons states that the new graduates should be able to “understand the ethical and legal responsibility of vets in relation to patients, clients, society and environment”  and having the underpinning knowledge of “the ethical framework within which veterinary surgeons should work, including important ethical theories that inform decision making in professional and animal welfare related ethics.
Ethical Reasoning is not simply learned by a process of a repeated exposure to ethical issues. It remains unknown to what extent the teaching of ethics to vet students enables them to minimize or avoid moral stress. There is no accepted gold standard for veterinary ethics education and curricula vary, with ethics taught as a standalone subject in some programs and integrated into other subjects in other program.  Key ethics textbook, as well as regular column such as In Practice’s Everyday Ethics column and the ethical question of the month in Canadian Veterinary Journal, tend to apply ethical framework and approaches to case-based scenarios and are useful ethics training tools for veterinary students and veterinarians alike.

Big Money

Rollin’s Model to examine the perception of the society on veterinary practice, the two metaphors are the veterinarians as ‘Pediatricians’ or as ‘Garage Mechanic’. The Pediatrician Model is centered on a child patient’s interest, whereas the Garage Mechanic Model, the relationship are centered on the owner’s willingness and ability to pay. It’s his view that the pendulum is more on the mechanic model when one is dealing with animal health care. This perspective of service delivery is especially important in mechanic model when delivery in veterinary services is considered as a commercial activity. The relationship between the vet and the client can then be the cast in the language of principal-agent theory in which the problems of moral hazard and adverse selection are abound. 

 Working In Wildlife Ecosystem  The role of wildlife as reservoir of disease-causing agent in humans and domestic animals has increased the involvement of veterinarians in activities such as game capture for various reasons including translocation, attaching tracking devices and sample collection for disease surveillance in the wild. This entails the tranquilization of wild animals using aerial or land vehicles to track and darting to administer powerful chemicals for safer handling and manipulation. In doing this, sometimes unintended events occur such as animals being drowned having sought sanctuary in water bodies, predators catching prey and injuries while fleeing the administration of drugs. While these activities are important for improvement of quality of life for humans and animals in the long run, ethical dilemmas exists in the short run as to whether these actions are morally justified given the danger it posed to animals.
Ethical and moral issues arises commonly in all the spheres of veterinary practice. Ethics education during veterinary training can play a crucial role and help to improve ethical sensitivity and equip veterinarians with framework and approach that supports ethical-decision making. Advocating for Animal welfare may not be comfortable and may, at times requires courage but is necessary to advance veterinary medical profession and to improve human regards for animals as sentiments being. Applied ethics will advance with the course of time and research. 

“Education and Ethics need to walk hand in hand”


Published by TheGeekVeterinarian

Veterinarian by Profession, Blogger by Passion

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