When veterinarians take the Veterinarian's Oath, they pledge to use their scientific knowledge and skills "for the benefit
of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources,
the promotion of public health and the advancement of medical knowledge." Yet today, with the issues of animal welfare and
animal rights looming large in societal consciousness, veterinarians in all segments of the profession must confront ethical
hurdles as they navigate between their duties to animals, the animals' owners, and society at large.
The symposium Veterinary Ethics: Controversies, Challenges, and Opportunities, convened at the 2006 American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in February,considered the diverse
ethical concerns that arise from the competing and potentially conflicting interests that vie for the veterinarian's attention.
The symposium explored a range of issues from the effect of the animal rights movement on veterinary practice to the potential
conflict between the welfare of the individual animal and the welfare of the herd—and these issues' implications for human
health. Offering U.S. and international perspectives, the diverse group of symposium participants, with backgrounds in small-,
farm-, laboratory-, and zoo-animal medicine, addressed these ethical concerns. Following are summaries of their presentations.
Lida Anestidou, DVM, PhD
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society
319 Oxford House
Nashville, TN 37232-4350
Stephanie Bird, PhD
Science and Engineering Ethics
P.O. Box 2007
Wrentham, MA 02093