The evolution of veterinary sciences: A question of ethics
Have you been to a veterinary clinic lately? Bring plenty of cash
By Georges Dupras
October 19, 2022
When I was growing up, I felt that some professions stood apart. One such vocation was that of a veterinarian. I always wondered how they could diagnose a problem without conferring with their patients. Dogs, after all, can’t speak, nor can cats.
Comparatively, medical doctors focus exclusively on the human anatomy and are up-to-date on current health issues affecting people. Though they specialize, veterinarians are called on to care for different species ranging from agricultural, domestic, exotics, and wild animals. How, I wondered, could they keep up with such a wide variety of species?
Despite this admiration, much has changed over the years, and the field of veterinary sciences is no exception. Over time, the white lab coat has greyed somewhat, and the old vet’s office has lost its warmth. Make no mistake, my disappointment is with the Order of Veterinarians and not the individual practitioner.
Large corporations bought out independent vet clinics
Small, family-run community practices are all but gone, many replaced by sterile clinics based on the corporate footprint. These homogenized clinics offer state-of-the-art technology at a custom rate. Non-designer foods have been replaced by shelves of designer products.
Small, family-run community practices are all but gone, many replaced by sterile clinics based on the corporate footprint.
It is only a matter of time before large corporate owners and insurance companies will be dictating the time allotted for each procedure. General pricing will become the exclusive responsibility of the corporation rather than the in-house veterinarians. This operating procedure is fashioned in the same manner as American insurance companies that dictate both prices and procedures to medical doctors and hospitals in the United States of America.
Lack of sensitivity
I remain very concerned about the manner in which vets are trained. There appears to be a deliberate effort to desensitize young vets through the insistence that student vets refer to research animals as “subjects” or numbers rather than by their names.
They also lack training in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the basics of critical thinking. I’m finding it difficult to remember when the Order of Vets in this province operated in a cutting-edge fashion by challenging corporations and the government of Quebec if an animal practice or issue demanded an investigation, prosecution, or elimination.
It is no secret that people are living longer and are lonelier. Their families have relocated or have passed away. Many of our seniors live on a fixed income with their pet dog or cat for companionship. These are more than pets, they are family. Without these wonderful friends, there would be little point in going on for our seniors, no heartbeat waiting for them at the door.
‘The problem is that costs associated with pet ownership… have skyrocketed over the years. Stories of seniors going without food or medication to feed their beloved pets are not uncommon.’
Not so many years ago, it was common practice at the SPCA to euthanize older animals because they were less popular and, like us, set in their ways. Today, many older cats and dogs can be saved and live long and productive lives by giving our caring seniors a purpose, love, and warmth. The problem is that costs associated with pet ownership, especially older animals, have skyrocketed over the years. Stories of seniors going without food or medication to feed their beloved pets are not uncommon.
I find it truly sad that what was once almost a vocation has become just another entry in a corporate profit and loss statement.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of WestmountMag.ca or its publishers.
Feature image: Tima Miroshnichenko, pexels.com
Read also: other articles by Georges R. Dupras
Georges R. Dupras has advocated for animals for over fifty years. A member of the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA), a Director of the Animal Alliance of Canada (AAC), Quebec Representative of Zoocheck Canada and past Board member of the Canadian SPCA, he worked on the original Save the Seal campaign in 1966 that culminated in the founding of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 1969. Georges Dupras has published two books, Values in Conflict and the eBook Ethics, a Human Condition, and currently lives in Montreal, Canada.