The Great Debate

I remember the story the Herald Sun newspaper published to coincide with Open Day last year, and the fuss it caused. And rightly so. In fact, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a similar story since. It makes me genuinely question the sanity and humility of most veterinary students and staff on campus. They are all fully aware of, if not participating in, terminal surgical learning practical sessions on unclaimed council dogs (I know that at least some of them come from Warnambool City Council – just far enough away so that there is not a coincidental recognition of a dog by its owner – because I have seen the council tags on several dogs arriving at the vet school). Of course, the vet school will deny it until they are black and blue – they claim that they are dogs surrendered to the vet school by genuine owners, and that the owners sign a clause allowing the veterinary school to conduct these terminal surgical exercises (where dogs are anaesthetised, operated on, and then euthanized humanely before they are allowed to wake up). But I ask you, what owner in their right mind would want to put an animal through this? And even if there are a few crazy pet owners out there that actually sign the clause, are there really 60 or so owners every 6 months that actually sign their dogs over, not just to die, but to suffer as well? What I reckon is that the university is covering up in one of two ways – either they are telling owners they are going to euthanize the dogs immediately and then store them in cages until the surgical practicals roll around and the dogs are required; or they are illegally obtaining dogs from local council pounds. Of course, these pound dogs are going to be put down – and it is illegal for the vet school to operate on pound dogs – but it is the principal of covering it up that really irritates me. It seems to be one of the few things that Vet School is actually good at! Anyway, you can read the article at:,21985,23529617-2862,00.html On the topic of cover ups, I have seen some terrible situations occur at the public veterinary clinic that the University owns and runs. Keep in mind that the Vet School does NOT subsidise any treatments (in fact they actually inflate many costs) despite the fact that most tasks and after hour care (even in the 24 hour emergency centre that charges roughly $150 just for a dog to be in there overnight with NO treatments or medications) are carried out by STUDENTS WITHOUT the supervision of veterinarians. Sure, most students are expected to graduate within 24 months, but still, most learning occurs within the first 5 years after graduation. This would be like putting an intern student doctor in charge of a ward of patients with diseases they may never have even heard of before. Pretty appalling if you ask me! What the Vet School should be doing is making patients fully aware of what procedures will be carried out by students, and which will be carried out by veterinary doctors. Then they should be cutting the price by at least 30% compared with local veterinarians. And if they use the animal as a teaching case for students (which most animals are), then they should drop the price again. I know for sure that even if my dog was dying, I wouldn’t take him to the Vet School intensive care unit, even if it was the closest place around! Anyway… back to cover ups. I have witnessed first-hand an ICU veterinarian administer an anaesthetic drug to a cat too quickly and overdose it. The cat continued to seizure for days on end, and never recovered (it had to be euthanized). And what did they Vet School say to the owners? “Your cat had a bad reaction to an anaesthetic reagent”. Oh for goodness sake, of COURSE it is going to have an adverse reaction if you give it ten times the amount of drug it is suppose to have within a specified time frame. Anyway, it was the owner’s daughter that I felt most sorry for. She lost her best mate. The Vet School should have admitted what they did, then offer all costs incurred during the cats stay to be waivered, and then given the owners compensation for the stupid mistake made by the veterinarian. I’m not saying that everyone is perfect and that vets never make mistakes (even I have overdosed a dog), but it is being able to ADMIT you made a mistake, and LEARN from your mistake, that is the most important thing. I really hope this vet learnt from it, because she sure wasn’t able to admit it.


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