Historically, expenditure on animals and attitudes toward animal welfare have improved, with increasing social affluence. However, recent events suggest veterinary attitudes may be lagging behind those of the general public. Despite widespread public opposition to, and in some cases the passage of legislation against, the force-feeding of ducks and geese during foie gras production, the export of live sheep, the caging and ‘forced’ molting of laying hens, the confinement of sows in gestation crates, and several other farming practices, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Australian Veterinary Association have continued to support such practices.
To gain insights into the attitudes of veterinarians toward animal welfare, the positions of the AVMA on a broad range of practices believed to result in poor welfare were ascertained. While the AVMA did not support all such practices, it did support a range of them, in some cases contrary to substantial scientific evidence.
Such poor positions on animal welfare issues may result from deficiencies in the selection and education of veterinarians, or from misrepresentation of the opinions of veterinarians by the AVMA.
Solutions could include consideration of animal welfare awareness and critical reasoning ability during the selection of veterinary students, bioethics and critical reasoning training during veterinary education, continuing education credits for veterinarians who participate in such postgraduate training, the replacement of remaining harmful animal use in veterinary curricula with humane alternatives, and the encouragement of more active involvement of veterinarians in their professional associations.
Describes studies demonstrating poor animal welfare standards of veterinarians, probable causative factors, and outlines a strategy likely to increase standards.
Article calling for increased welfare standards of veterinarians, and describing humane teaching methods in vet education.