Scotland’s Vets Praised In Challenging Times

Veterinary services across Scotland have been magnificent throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent outbreak of Avian flu.

The work of these essential workers in our islands has largely gone uncelebrated but that changed on Tuesday night (17th May) at the BVA’s Annual Scottish Dinner where President Justine Shotton reminded the audience of the tremendous work done by our Vets.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) event was held in the Scottish Parliament with Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands in the Scottish Government as a guest speaker.

Justine Shotton also warned of the great challenges that lie ahead for the profession. She said:

“ If we are going to cope with ongoing and new or unforeseen challenges ahead, we need action now to improve recruitment, retention and rates of return to veterinary work, to ensure that all existing vets can feel supported, safe and rewarded in their careers, and to encourage future vets from all walks of life to follow in our footsteps.”

And she called on Scottish and UK governments, animal owners, the profession itself and vets of the future to take a range of actions to help create a “flexible, resilient and future-proofed workforce”. 

Dr Shotton also spoke of the new vet schools such as the site proposed by the SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) and that adequate funding is required.

On disease control Justine Shotton said:

“I don’t have to tell any of you around the room tonight that diseases and animal welfare problems don’t respect borders.  It will therefore be critical that the new service has systems that collaborate and liaise with the rest of the UK, and beyond, on disease surveillance, data collection, and information sharing.  We’re engaging closely to ensure that veterinary expertise is at the heart of these new proposals.” 

The BVA President also spoke about animal welfare. She was really pleased by the Scottish Government’s commitment to banning the sale and use of glue traps, describing them as “inhumane devices, which subject trapped animals to prolonged pain and suffering and can often accidentally trap non-target species including cats and birds.”  She called for similar action against snares, as they can also cause significant and needless harm to animals, including pets and protected wildlife.

On pet welfare, Dr Shotton acknowledged some significant campaign wins in the past year, including BVA successfully lobbying alongside others for the UK Government to take action against the “barbaric and purely cosmetic practice” of cropping dogs’ ears.  She said that BVA will now be turning its attention to the rise of canine fertility clinics in Scotland and the rest of the UK, saying:

“We are building a picture of the scale and severity of this worrying trend, and already seeing multiple red flags in the clinics, which may be operating with no regulation or veterinary oversight.  The recent action taken against a clinic owner in Lanarkshire following a joint investigation exemplifies what can be achieved when we come together to clamp down on unregulated and dangerous practices.”

The BVA President ended her speech by thanking BVA Scottish Branch colleagues for all their support, and welcoming Gareth Hateley, who was formally elected as the new Branch Junior Vice President at the AGM on Tuesday afternoon.

Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, responded to the speech as BVA’s Guest of Honour.

You can download Dr Shotton’s speech here:

Image Credit Bell

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