MEDIA RELEASE 1 – 8TH AUGUST 2014
Subject: VETERINARIANS ARE THE CUSTODIANS OF ANIMAL WELFARE
Although destruction of rare antelope such as Situtunga is regrettable, the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) fully supports the actions of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to safeguard South African livestock and wildlife against the possible introduction of new diseases. The SAVA urges DAFF to institute a full enquiry, to prevent the recurrence of such an event.
On 05 August 2014 the NSPCA issued a media release under the heading “Veterinary ethics and animal suffering” in which certain sweeping allegations are made against the veterinary profession. The South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) investigated the matter, and wishes to place on record some facts which were omitted in the NSPCA’s statement.
Destruction of animals for regulatory purposes is the responsibility of the state, and should be performed by state veterinarians. Three private veterinarians, who were informed that the animals had to be destroyed for regulatory purposes, refused to perform this function. The SAVA fully supports their right to do so. The statement by the NSPCA, “a number of wildlife veterinarians who were approached for assistance refused to euthanase the animals on ethical grounds” is therefore incorrect.
Euthanasia (mercy killing) on humanitarian grounds is a totally different matter than destruction of animals for regulatory purposes. The veterinarians involved did not inspect the animals themselves, but were informed that the animals had access to water and feed. A veterinarian has the right to inspect an animal in order to decide whether euthanasia is justified; a lay person cannot instruct a veterinarian to euthanase an animal. Veterinarians are the ultimate custodians of animal welfare.
MEDIA RELEASE 2 – 8 AUGUST 2014
SUBJECT: VETERINARY PROCEDURES TO CURB RHINO POACHING
The dramatic escalation in the number of rhinos poached annually in South Africa is of great concern to the South African Veterinary Association. Drastic counter-measures implying veterinary procedures are sometimes advocated. The welfare of individual animals remains a top priority. Veterinarians have perfected rhino immobilisation techniques, but protocols for some other procedures are still being developed. The anatomy of domestic animals has been studied in great detail, but in most cases this does not apply to wildlife. Before a protocol for the ethical dehorning of rhinos can be approved, for example, the anatomy of a rhino’s head must be understood: nerve and blood supply, location and extent of horn germinal layers, size and position of the nasal sinuses, etc. This information is lacking; a study to furnish the required information is currently underway at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria.
Although time is of the essence, any veterinary procedure must be rational and evidence-based. Relying on procedures that are based solely on anecdotal evidence is risky. This highlights the urgent need for funding of vital research projects. Donations to the underlying funds via the umbrella Vet Rhino Fund, will be gratefully accepted.
South African Veterinary Association Vet Rhino Fund Legal Status:
Registration No 1901/02020/20
Public Benefit Organisation 93000 1648
VAT nr 4280104920