Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Raising the issue of live animal use in veterinary education to a global scale

This month saw our welfare veterinary nurse, Hayley Walters, attend her second BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinary Association) International Affairs Committee meeting. Held in Birmingham three times a year, Hayley is the first veterinary nurse to sit on the committee. The International Affairs Committee is responsible for links within the Union of European Veterinary Practitioners (UEVP) and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) as well as liaising with the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Association (FECAVA) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) This committee allows BSAVA to identify and influence matters of importance to the small animal veterinary surgeon in Europe and further afield.
Sheep used for suturing practise at a vet school in China

JMICAWE’s Heather Bacon teaching suturing on a suture board
Hayley presented a report written by herself and colleague Heather Bacon, highlighting the use of live animals in veterinary education in vet schools in developing countries and how this is not only harmful to the animals used for clinical and surgical skills practise but also detrimental to the quality of education that the student receives. Veterinary students often feel conflicted when faced with having to perform unnecessary surgery on an animal in the name of their education. The report also highlighted research carried out showing that veterinary students lose empathy for animals as they progress through vet school and objectifying animals is necessary for them to be able to continue with their practical training. Vets have to be ambassadors for animal welfare so it is of the utmost importance that they leave vet school compassionate, empathetic and dedicated to improving the lives of the animals under their care.

Everyone attending the meeting agreed that countries still teaching students in this manner needed to align with international standards of education and a unanimous decision was made to present the report to BSAVA’s scientific committee. Once the report has been approved it will receive BSAVA’s full endorsement and ultimately be sent to WSAVA. WSAVA is a global veterinary community set up to facilitate the exchange of scientific information between individual veterinarians and veterinary organisations all over the world.

JMICAWE made several recommendations in the report, including how to phase out the harmful use of live animals in veterinary education, and it is hoped that with WSAVA’s endorsement to its worldwide contacts, more vet schools will look to make the change.


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