Friday, February 10, 2017

Getting to zero in shelters, keeping pets cool, and an introduction to medical ethics

Better shelter management has improved the outlook for healthy kittens like these (happily rehomed). We can still do more.

The welfare of animals in shelters in Australia has improved by leaps and bounds since I graduated. The influx of animals, once overwhelming, is now being stemmed thanks to better shelter management, increased education of staff in animal welfare, behaviour and enrichment, an understanding and determination to be proactive about combating compassion fatigue and a groundswell of motivation to do something to prevent the destruction of healthy animals. There is still a way to go.

Getting to Zero is a model aimed at achieving ZERO killing of healthy or treatable cats and dogs – that more than 90 per cent of the intake of shelters. Every two years, G2Z hosts a conference, drawing on expertise from around the world.

This year I will be attending the Getting 2 Zero 2017conference. Save the date!

Meantime this has been an incredibly busy week. The current heatwave is playing havoc with companion animals. One of the most common things I’m seeing is late presentation of unwell animals, with owners reporting that they noticed their pet was a bit off colour, or perhaps less interested in food, but thought it was just the heat. It’s understandable – this heat is knocking everyone around, and causing behaviours like lethargy, panting, increased thirst and inappetence that are also seen with illness. But this is also problematic as it means that signs of illness are easily dismissed.

Undoubtedly its preaching to the converted, but please ensure pets have access to a cool environment and if you think they’re a bit off colour, best to get them checked out. More tips on keeping animals cool here. It looks like this hot weather is set to continue.

Finally, Dr Gwen Adshead, who treats people, gave a great lecture about medical ethics which raises some issues faced not only by doctors, but veterinarians. This article provides a beautiful summary of the key schools of thought in medical moral decision making. Read it here.