Dear Reader

Head versus heart

We live in a world of contrasts. Contrasts of climate, contrasting landscapes and cultures and, closer to home, contrasting standards and approaches to veterinary care. And a read through the pages of this June edition of VNJ simply serves to reinforce the point.

So on the one hand we have an article by Scott Parry about the standards and facilities at the Petplan Pet Practice of the Year in Highbridge in Somerset; and on the other there is a report by Frances Gaudiano of a visit of a group of VNs to a veterinary practice in Grahamstown, one of the poorest areas of the East Cape in South Africa.

In both instances, the motivation of the practice staff is to provide the best possible care for the animals entrusted to them. However, the reality of their different approaches and outcomes is ultimately determined by their locations, the available equipment and medicines and, perhaps most critically, the financial and material resources of the animal owners.

These contrasts become even more apparent in Frances Gaudiano’s account of the work of a humble inspector from the Grahamstown Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as he does his best – against what many UK vets and nurses would find insurmountable odds – to care for stray and owned pets midst the abject poverty of the makeshift accommodation of a township with little to hand other than a few antibiotics and some antiparasitic products. And where euthanasia is often the only option.

So at a time when the pressure is on the UK veterinary nursing profession constantly to improve its standards of care, and the range of available treatment options grows wider every day, it is important not to lose sight of the fundamental necessity of putting the welfare of the animal first. And sometimes that may mean euthanasia rather than embarking on treatment options simply because they are there.

In this respect, Bob Broadbent’s article ‘Badgers and TB – understanding the argument’ pulls no punches and presents some hard-nosed choices, especially for people claiming to put the welfare of badgers first. How does the protection of badgers at all costs stack up with their well-being? Do we really believe that a badger suffering from TB in an overcrowded sett has a great quality of life?

As veterinary nurses, we are bound at all times to make sure that we make objective decisions in connection with animal welfare issues and ensure that our heads rule our hearts.


David J Watson, BVetMed MA MRCVS 


To cite this editorial use either

DOI: 10.1111/vnj.12036 or Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 128 pp 174

• VOL 28 • June 2013 • Veterinary Nursing Journal