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Collaboration between doctors and vets on new techniques can benefit both human and animal patients, and there should be more of it, says Noel Fitzpatrick
THE veterinary profession is 250 years old this year. Its founder, Claude Bourgelat, was the first scientist to suggest that studying animal biology and pathology would help to improve our understanding of human biology and pathology. Without this massive step forward the veterinary profession, of which we are all proud to be members, may not have arrived until decades later. 2011 marks the 250th anniversary of the concept of comparative pathobiology, without which modern medicine would never have emerged.
In 2011, the human medical profession generally doesn't have any idea what we do as veterinary surgeons, and the medical device and pharmaceutical companies often see the veterinary profession as the people who provide them with experimental evidence for human healthcare products. At the same time there is an ever-increasing awareness of the sentience of animals and their role in society as valuable companions and living creatures with an intrinsic right to a pain-free quality of life. There will not be an endless supply of ‘experimental’ animals, with all of the unpalatable realities that this forces us to think about. Is it time to consider that vets could work with the animal-owning public to provide better solutions for clinical cases and, in so doing, advance veterinary and human medicine, not by sacrificing an animal life, but by saving one?
As more and more options emerge for pharmaceutical and surgical intervention to help pet animals, we should rightly ask the question – is it ethically and morally right to push technology to the limit in the pursuit of quality of life, or are they ‘only animals’ and therefore not deserving of the level of care afforded to …
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