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Where should the line be drawn on surgery and treatment?

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‘I AM continually frustrated by veterinarians who refer me patients where the welfare of the animal is ignored while the referring veterinarians try desperately to fulfil the owner's unrealistic expectations.’

So said Australian veterinarian Roger Clarke, chairman of the WSAVA's animal welfare committee, during a debate at the WSAVA/FECAVA/BSAVA congress in Birmingham in April. He made the remark during a ‘debates and controversies’ session entitled ‘How far is too far in the treatment and surgery of small animals?’.

He reported that the Australian Veterinary Association had developed a policy on referral, which stated that, unless animal welfare was at risk, it was the client's choice, not the vet's, on how an animal should be treated. However, he said, the client's wishes were often ‘uninformed and not in the best interests of animal welfare and the animal's well being’. He said that the veterinarian should be …

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