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THE inclusion of veterinary ethics as a discrete and recognisable subject in veterinary curricula has been a creeping progression rather than a huge leap. In comparison to medical ethics, the acknowledgement of its existence as a concept in its own right is relatively recent. The teaching of medical ethics in the UK was enhanced by its inclusion in the General Medical Council's first version of ‘Tomorrow's Doctors’ (General Medical Council 1993), both in terms of knowledge (‘ethical and legal issues relevant to the practice of medicine’) and attitudes (‘awareness of the moral and ethical responsibilities involved’). By 1997, most medical schools in the UK included medical ethics in their core curriculum (Fulford and others 1997) and several authors have proposed suitable areas of curricular content (Goldie 2000, Stirrat and others 2010).
The delay in the development of veterinary ethics teaching is perhaps surprising, as the debate on the ethics of animal use is far-reaching and often public. However, although the moral status of animals and welfare-based ethics are still relevant, there has been increasing interest in veterinary professionalism and the ethics associated with it in recent years (May 2012, Mossop and Cobb 2013). This has created a closer relationship between veterinary ethics and medical ethics, and perhaps given it a higher profile as a distinct …