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Ethics of vetinary training watch

    • Thread Starter

    I'm thinking of making a career change to vetinary medicine. I currently work in an office (have a masters in geoscience) but want to change to something that I'm passionate about. I'm not looking for advice on how difficult this change would be (bloody difficult I should think) but I want some advise on the ethics of animal use in vetinary training.

    Being a vegetarian and an animal lover is what's drawing me to this area but I've read that healty animals (dogs, horses) are sometimes purchased for practical surgical training and euthanised by students. Is this true? It's not something I'd feel entirely at ease with. The RVC have no conclusive statement on thier site (from what I could find). I've read that laboratory test dogs for example are sometimes used but that this practise may be changing to practices such as neutering on dogs that are then rehomed. Does anykne know if any if this is true and/or if any collages have any humane training alternatives, if such a thing exists? Obviously vets have to learn but it would go against my beliefs to harm a healthy animal just for the sake of learning.

    Many thanks,
    • PS Reviewer

    PS Reviewer
    Hi there,

    I am a final year vet student at Liverpool. I would like to reassure you that our training is 100% humane. Yes, we do dissections on animals or animal parts BUT animals are not killed by the student nor are they killed to be used as teaching tools. For example, we are using organs that were collected from the abattoir, or dogs that have been euthanised/died for other reasons (this might be due to sick health, an unexpected death, or unrehomable dogs from shelters). For horses, a lot of owners consent to donating their horse for post mortem which then becomes teaching material for us. Therefore these animals would have died regardless, but instead of being incinerated they come to us before ending up as ashes. As students we respect all the specimens and they do form good teaching tools that cannot compare to any models currently developed.

    We are also not allowed to perform procedures 'for the sake of it' on live animals e.g. blood testing, even on university animals.

    We use a lot of models e.g. we have a realistic plastic cow and calf where we can practice calving which is good practice and means we can all have a go. And foam pads for learning to stitch . There are 3D computer programs for anatomy too.

    As for surgical training - we've not done much on live animals at Liverpool. I castrated one dog which was someone's pet who came into the university's first opinion clinic. Obviously under supervision all the way though.

    I don't know of any UK university which purposefully kills animals for teaching - I suspect if any did we would be shut down by activists!!

    As a vegetarian though, you are aware that you would need to visit abattoirs during your time at vet school as part of public health teaching? And you would obviously have to work with farmers and farm animals a lot during your study. Just something to be aware of

    Yeah, as far as I'm aware RVC don't do anything on animals for the sake of it other than examining them.
    • Community Assistant

    Community Assistant
    I've never heard that & I doubt it's true. I've tried to look into it myself & it's difficult to get transparent information through the cloud of animal rights activism on the internet. RVC are probably being vague to protect themselves from animal rights activists who disagree with vet students doing dissections full stop. Vet schools always put the animal's welfare first.
    At nottingham, we have our own live smallholding animals (cows, sheep, pigs, exotics & cats) & then dogs who belong to the teaching staff & horses who belong to the students. They're only used to teach us things like animal handling and giving clinical exams, nothing invasive. for more invasive procedures like taking blood etc. we use either models or cadavers.
    the cadavers for dissection are either fresh specimens from abbatoirs or the dogs we get are specially prepared from America, where unfortunately they are pound dogs who've been euthanised.
    I don't agree with putting healthy pound dogs myself, but theyre not killed for the purpose of teaching, and how I like to see it is a few animals have died to teach the 140 vet students in my year who'll go on to save more in the future once they graduate
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