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Ethics and animal welfare

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Abstract

This chapter introduces specific welfare and ethical issues that are faced in shelter medicine and outlines the factors that give rise to them. It focuses on two key issues that are the source of many welfare and ethical concerns: the challenges of resource distribution and euthanasia. : Using ethical reasoning to make decisions.

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Figures

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2.4 Most people would agree that the momentary discomfort of having a vaccine administered is outweighed by the benefits the vaccine confers to that individual. In this case, a dog is distracted by a food treat (peanut butter) while undergoing vaccination. (© Jenny Stavisky)
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2.5 Animals may present with long-standing injuries that have been left untreated. This dog was presented at a shelter with a deformed leg, which had resulted in difficulty walking and chronic damage to the wearing surface of the paw. (© Jenny Stavisky)
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2.6 Stress can be expressed in varying ways. (a) This dog is showing the whites of its eyes, panting, quivering its tail and has a tense facial expression. (b) This dog appears withdrawn. (© Jenny Stavisky)
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2.7 In most circumstances, long-term kennelling does not provide an adequate quality of life for most animals. (© Jenny Stavisky)
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2.10 This dog presented with the classic clinical signs of hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease), including excessive thirst, a pot belly and hair loss on the ventrum and tail. This type of case can be expensive both for the shelter and for the new owner, and can cause debate regarding resource allocation. (© Jenny Stavisky)
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2.13 Overcrowding can occur even with a small number of animals. (Courtesy of L Gosling)
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2.14 Flowchart showing the steps that should be considered when making decisions regarding euthanasia.
Image of Jasper: a 4-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Jasper: a 4-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Jasper: a 4-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

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