Why small animal veterinarians should care about farm animals - DVM
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Why small animal veterinarians should care about farm animals
Concern for animals slaughtered in the U.S. should be part of the veterinarian's oath.


Veterinary response

Organized veterinary groups have had little meaningful impact on the welfare of farm animals, likely as a consequence of the interdependent relationship between a subset of large animal veterinarians and the agriculture industry. In fact, when a citizen initiative (Proposition 2) was on the California ballot in 2008 to provide that farm animals be able to move and extend their limbs, the AVMA did not endorse the measure, asserting that there was not enough science to ensure animal safety with increased living space.14 Sixty-three percent of the general population of California passed the measure.

Small animal veterinarians are obliged by virtue of our oath to "prevent and relieve animal suffering," which means broadening our scope of moral concern beyond the pets we care for each day to include animals we are less emotionally attached to and do not see or hear behind slaughterhouse doors. The sheer number of animals affected makes this, in my consideration, the most important animal welfare issue. As we cannot rely on legal protections nor the agriculture industry to improve the welfare of farm animals, we must take individual actions to help. These can include:

> Lobbying for legislation mandating improved treatment of farm animals

> Encouraging food retailers to improve animal care from their suppliers

> Working with organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, which work to improve farm animal welfare

> Learning more about methods of farm animal welfare from resources such as http://farmanimalwelfare.org/

> Reducing or eliminating personal consumption of animal products such as meat, eggs and milk

> Speaking out against efforts to censor photographing animals on farms

Recent animal welfare actions in the food industry
> Supporting the trend among select industries to eliminate severe confinement methods such as gestation crates, veal crates and battery cages.

We've had a centuries-old relationship with farm animals in which we relied on them for food, transportation and fiber and took care of them in kind. With the advent of industrialized agriculture, we have broken this pact. Our humanity will be judged by our willingness to improve their living conditions.

Dr. Barry Kipperman is staff internist and founder of VetCare, a 24-hour referral-emergency practice in Dublin, Calif. He has published numerous articles on veterinary ethics, presented on veterinary ethics and standards of care, and been a guest lecturer at University of California-Davis.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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