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THE veterinary profession comprises thousands of individuals who contribute enormously to animal welfare, but collectively we have not always stood up as a united profession about animal welfare issues. The slaughter of animals without stunning is, I suggest, an issue about which there is near unanimity of view among veterinary surgeons. The severing of the throat of sentient, conscious animals without precluding the possibility of pain is quite unnecessary in this day and age, and would not be acceptable in any context other than religious freedom. But it is my contention that methods of rendering animals insensitive are now available which, providing there was a progressive interpretation of religious rules, would enable slaughter with stunning which was not incompatible with specific religious requirements and hence religious freedom.
When I initiated a debate on this subject in the House of Lords in January (Hansard 2014a), I deliberately did not call for a ban on non-stun slaughter; this is a tactical decision on my part and I seek to persuade the relevant religious communities to change of their own volition. Nonetheless, I fully support the e-mail petition that the BVA has running (BVA 2014) and I urge all veterinary surgeons to sign it. Currently, some 71,000 individuals have signed this petition and when 100,000 …
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