An academic specialising in animal welfare says the veterinary profession should bring in regulatory safeguards to prevent profiteering by vets.

Image: iStock © Andrew_Howe

David Main, professor of animal welfare at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences, says he believes the vast majority of individual vets and practices are not motivated by money and have animals’ best interests at heart.

But in this In this month’s Vet Futures guest blog, he argues “perceptions, as well as reality, matter among our clients and society,” adding: “The obvious difference between the business structure of veterinary and medical practitioners in the UK means the profession will always be at risk of challenge for excessive profiteering.

“Since we still live in the age of the media scare story, it would seem prudent for the profession to embed some anti-profit-seeking safeguards in our regulatory controls before, rather than after, a problem is highlighted.”

He believes such safeguards, which he says could be incorporated into the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Practice Standards Scheme, would be a “healthy demonstration” that the profession has animal welfare rather than profit as its main priority.

Prof Main also argues the profession needs to do more to deliver on society’s expectation of vets as animal welfare advocates.

In his blog on the website of Vet Futures – a joint British Veterinary Association and RCVS project to help the profession shape and prepare for its future – Prof Main says in his blog that it is easy for vets to inform clients on the technical rationale for a specific husbandry change, but then walk away knowing full well the client will not action the advice.

“In the medical profession, advanced communication techniques are becoming more widely accepted to promote positive change within their patients,” he says. “Perhaps we should be more explicit in teaching our veterinary students influencing skills.”

In response to the blog, this month’s Vet Futures poll asks: “Do vets always act as animal welfare advocates?”

To read the blog and take part in the poll visit

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