Eight veterinary schools across Australia and New Zealand have come together to create an online veterinary portal called OneWelfare that will be the first nationally communal interactive resource for guidance on animal welfare and ethics.
The resource is designed to help combat growing community concerns around animal welfare. Professor of animal welfare science at the University of Sydney, Paul Mcgreevy, who is the head researcher for the project, says it’s designed to train veterinary students to appreciate ethical dilemmas from all angles.
“What we’re trying to do is train our students to deconstruct these dilemmas and be clear about what sort of approach they’re taking, whether it’s purely for the animal’s benefit or takes in the views of the other stakeholders,” Mcgreevy told the Sydney Morning Herald.
McGreevy says the website will include a reflection tool, a space for inter-vet debates, over 300 essays, an inter-related app, and realistic scenarios for students to roleplay and practice empathy in ethical dilemmas.
“We’ve identified so many different scenarios that are realistic and allow students to prepare for those challenges,” says McGreevy. “We’ve . . . designed them to be relevant to vets on their first day in practice, because that’s when vets are most unsure of themselves and vulnerable to the stress of having to make decisions.”
John Webster, professor emeritus at the University of Bristol in animal husbandry, who will be launching the site, hopes that understandings of animal welfare between humans and animals themselves come closer together.
“Human perception of what is good animal welfare, and the animal’s perception of what’s good for itself, are not necessarily the same,” says Webster. “The job of the animal welfare scientists and the veterinarians …. is to try and match those two things as closely as possible.”