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21-06-2008 - Veterinarians, scientists and educators to play a key role in animal health debates

Veterinarians, scientists and educators to play a key role in animal health debates

Wednesday 21st May 2008

Veterinarians, scientists and educators should play a key role in animal health debates, says Dr Pauleen Bennett in a paper to be presented at the annual national conference of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA).

Dr Bennett says that debates about animal welfare sometimes take place without logical thinking, relevant empirical data and the considered opinion of experts. Instead, Dr Bennett says, debates are driven by lobby groups and celebrities who are not always given adequate information about the issue.

“All veterinarians, scientists and educators must adopt more proactive attitudes and behaviours towards the promotion of animal welfare in our community. Decisions about animal welfare should not be made by well-meaning people who have empathy for animals but have no real background or understanding of all the issues.

“Professionals with relevant knowledge must contribute to ongoing debates and information about animals and this should be used as a basis for decision making, rather than social or political agendas or commercial interests,” said Dr Bennett.

Dr Di Sheehan, AVA President, agrees it is vital that veterinarians play an important role in debates about animal welfare.

“We have seen a resurgence of celebrities weighing into debates about animal welfare to raise awareness of issues in the media and draw on public sympathy to garner support for animal health issues. Whilst public awareness is important, decisions about animal welfare should lie with people who work in the animal health industry. It should not be influenced by people who do not have a background in animal welfare issues.

The role of veterinarians is very important in debates about animal health, on advisory committees and contribution to policy and operations. We need to draw upon the vast knowledge and resources of the veterinary profession,” Dr Sheehan said.

Dr Bennett presents her research at the AVA national conference on Tuesday 17 May 2008 at 1.30pm at the Perth Convention Centre. The session focuses on unusual & exotic pets and avian behaviour and includes a paper by Dr Phil Tucak on seal behaviour in Antarctica.

Dr Pauleen Bennett is from the Animal Welfare Science Centre at Monash University.

Download: AVA2008-042 Conference Role of vets in animal welfare debates.pdf

Contact: Gillian Nalletamby, Media Officer (02) 9431 5023/0439 628 898
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