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Original Message i know there are a lot of animal lovers here, so i thought you all might be interested to read what i already knew. or at least suspected.

Why I'm ashamed to be a vet: a shocking exposé of the profession that puts pets through 'painful and unnecessary treatments to fleece their trusting owners'

For eight years Matthew Watkinson worked as a vet. But are vets really the saints they are made out to be? Here, Matthew, 32, now an author, exposes the uncuddly truth about vets that every animal lover should read. . .
Matthew Watkinson says treating family pets has spawned a whole industry

Matthew Watkinson says treating family pets has spawned a whole industry

The greyhound's soulful eyes seemed to plead with me to help him. His thin tail tucked between his legs, he stood still with fear on the examination table as the posse of fellow veterinary students listened to the chief lecturer.

Aged 12, he had bone cancer in a hind leg and it was advanced, we were told. Looking at the dog, I imagined he'd had a good life. Obviously, from the condition of his brushed coat, and his muscled body, he had an owner who knew how to care for him.

As a student vet who in a year was to graduate to work in my own practice, I knew what I would recommend if I were this dog's owner - and that was a loving and peaceful death.

But putting the greyhound to sleep and out of his misery was not the correct answer, the lecturer told me quite sternly.

A humane death would not be the course of treatment offered to its owner. Well, at any rate, not yet. After all, didn't I realise the advances that had been made in veterinary medicine? There were 'options' that could extend this old dog's life.

No, instead, its leg was going to be amputated and then a course of chemotherapy would be tried to ensure that 'all was done to save the dog's life' - at a cost of £1,000 to £2,000, or even more.

I have no idea what the owner thought of this. But, as the majority of pet owners want to do the best by their beloved dog, I can only imagine he or she took this 'chief' vet's expensive advice to try to 'save' the pet.

Meanwhile, I remember pushing down the revulsion I felt about putting the dog through what we all knew would be punishing treatment that in all likelihood would not work.

And even if it did give that greyhound an extra year or so of life, how could anyone explain to it that the suffering was for a reason? That lying in a small cage, surgically maimed, and hooked up to a drip for weeks, perhaps months, would be 'worth it'.

Today I look back on that lecture and realise that already I had begun to question the role of vets in animal 'welfare'.

'I found myself so disgusted at the moneymaking practices I left the profession altogether'

The point is yes, we could treat this dog's cancer, but was it in the best interests of that dog? Morally, should we have even considered further treatment or was it all about making money?

Of course, back then I avoided becoming embroiled in ethics. I was just thrilled to be one of the lucky few to have made it into the most prestigious vet school in the country - London's Royal Veterinary College.

Having had a comprehensive school education, I went into the job because I was fascinated by biology and genuinely wanted to help animals. And although my parents had good jobs - my mother was a nurse and my father a radiographer - I was the first person in my family to go to university, and understandably my family was incredibly proud of my achievement.

So, despite the doubts already beginning to form in my mind, I ploughed on. A year after the greyhound incident I graduated and took my veterinary oath, which all vets swear to, promising 'to ensure the welfare of animals committed to my care'.

Back then, I had no concept that far from the saviours of animals they purport to be, the blame for much animal suffering in the UK can be laid so firmly at the door of vets.

I had no idea that I would ultimately be driven to confess that I am ashamed to be a vet and that, eight years after qualifying, I would find myself so disgusted at the moneymaking practices that I would leave the profession altogether.

Of course, not all vets deliberately set out to make as much money as they can out of treating animals. But money - not the welfare of the animal - is often at the forefront of the vet's mind.

Of course there are outright cowboys in any field and the veterinary profession is sadly no exception.

Today you will notice more and more practices have sprung up throughout the country - especially in those affluent areas where the middle-class residents treat their pets as part of their family.

One might imagine that because there are so many more vets that animals need more medical help than ever. But the truth is far simpler. A whole industry has arisen out of squeezing the most money out of treating family pets.
During the 'health check' that goes with a jab visit, it is amazing how many problems the vet might find

During the 'health check' that goes with a jab visit, it is amazing how many problems the vet might find

It is not unheard of for vets to Google a pet owner's home to see which area the family live in. Big house in a posh road - well, you can offer more treatment to that pet owner, of course. I never witnessed this in my practice, but I heard of it happening. Charge more for your services so a vaccination that costs a few pence becomes a £35 'consultation'. And that isn't all.

While the owner might believe he or she is only taking their cat for a vaccination (and I have no problem with sensible preventative healthcare) for the vet, this visit can be a way to make even more money out of a perfectly healthy animal.

During the 'health check' which accompanies the vaccination visit, it is amazing the potential 'problems' the vet might find.


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