Since the advent of COVID-19, the veterinary profession, like everyone else, has had to work differently to keep a safe work practice, creating unique ethical challenges for vet teams.
Vets Beyond Borders was forced to suspend volunteer deployment to all global partner projects, despite increased demand for vets and nurses, supplies and feed for animals in need.
Dr Anne Fawcett and Professor Paul McGreevy from Sydney University’s School of Veterinary Science, and Dr Siobhan Mullan from the University of Bristol (UK) are surveying veterinary professionals globally about ethical challenges they have encountered since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The aim of the survey is to determine what those are and how stressful they are, said Dr Fawcett.
“As a veterinarian I encountered some different ethical challenges when the Covid-19 pandemic hit,” she said. “Sometimes ethical challenges disclose bigger issues about animal welfare, human wellbeing or the environment. Exploring these can give us an idea of where to focus to develop outcomes that benefit humans, animals and the environment.”
“The unprecedented global pandemic hit immediately after the unprecedented Australian bushfire season of 2019-2020, suggesting that we need to be ready to deal with unprecedented ethical challenges. Predicted global warming, changes in the way humans interact with animals and impinge on wildlife habitat and loss of biodiversity mean we can expect more ‘unprecedented’ events. If we can prepare graduates for these, we may reduce moral stress and hopefully career longevity of veterinary team members.”
As far as Dr Fawcett is aware, this is the first global survey of ethical challenges encountered by the entire veterinary team.
“This reflects the reality of practice where its uncommon to work in isolation and will hopefully capture any differences in the types of ethical challenges encountered by different team members, or the stressfulness of those challenges,” she said.
The study is inclusive of veterinarians, animal health technicians and veterinary nurses as ethical challenges encountered by these cohorts may differ.
The survey is anonymous and will take a maximum of 15 minutes. Deadline 13 July 2020.