The year 2011 has been officially named World Veterinary Year; with pompous launching ceremony in Lyon, France on the 24th January...This year marks the 250th anniversary of the first ever Veterinary School.
250 years, hundreds of veterinary schools around the world, constant progress in Veterinary Care and yet so many of us vets have missed one crucial thing..the purpose of being a vet. Today's blog is not to be confused with criticism but just a reflection on who we are supposed to be as vets.
A couple of weeks ago, one co-worker asked me to help her daughter with a an essay on veterinarians and the next day, she came back telling me that she never thought that veterinarians are the guardians of human health too!! Yes...every animal that provides humans with food(meat, egg, milk) and other by-products has been kept in good health and monitored by a vet; at the Meat Authority, it is the Vet who gives the final clearance for animal products to be placed on the market;same thing at the Seafood Hub; all the lab animals that give their lives to save and prolong hundreds of human lives are looked after by vets.
Yes...a vet is not only that guy at the end of the street, who vaccinates your dog; he is supposed to be much more than that. A vet is the guardian of Animal Welfare in the first place."Why should you care?" Some may say...The fact is, human beings have USED animals since the beginning of civilisation; we are still using and will be using animals. If we are where we are as a "successful"species today, it is largely because our ancestors did USE animals. To quote A.de St Exupery "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed" and if we are going to use an animal for whatever purpose, it is our basic responsibility to cater for their welfare, to alleviate their suffering and minimise their distress. But how many of us believe in that purpose?; How many will just be vets to make money?...as I like to say...to thrive on the misfortunes and ailments of animals.
These last few months, I have been the witness of so many cases where the vet could not care less about his patient's distress; cases of supposedly loving owners leaving a dog's foot to rot because he did not have time to bring him to a vet; cases where well-intentioned owners accepted that their pets were being bullied and punished in some fancy "training sessions"...Big effing hypocrisy!
People frown upon the use of animals in labs but run to the pharmacy to buy animal tested drugs at the first headache or runny nose; the same people have nothing to say and approve animals being whipped to run for human pleasure (Yes...Surprise!..That's what horse racing is all about!)
Vet places a bandage improperly on dog's leg - impaired circulation; leg gets gangrenous and is amputated.Who cares? Another one prescribes Paracetamol to a kitten, when it is basic knowledge that this is TOXIC to cats (they lack the enzyme to metabolise that drug. What excuse does he have for this? Simply didn't give a damn!. But hey...responsibility to cater for animal welfare is meant for the owners too. How can Mr X bring a dog half eaten with maggots last thursday? What could have been more important during a whole week than his pet's suffering? How can so many people accept animal punishment; Prong collars(collars with metallic spikes on the inside), Choke chains and even Electric prods being used by so-called "Dog Trainers" on their pets?!? Isn't that the same dog you cherish?
The answer is "irresponsibility"...both from vets and owners and negative-reinforcement promoters on the island. My request to you all,owners, vets and wanna-be vets, remember what is your role and responsibility for the animal you are/will be looking after. After I had questioned the use of a prong collar on her Rott, my friend Dee said she felt sorry that she allowed that and told me "Shadow has forgiven me..am sure". Yep! It's like that with dogs, true "unconditional love"...they will still look up to you as the pack leader and respect you no matter what.In return, the least you can do is to be the person your dog thinks you are and if you are a vet, be up to it and do your best for the animal...no matter what or who.
Money etc are all secondary in that setup.
Am sorry if this was an angry and blunt one today but I feel that I need to air this out...to all the peeps reading me...with the secret hope that it may help at least one animal.