NOTICE: North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine Must Address Animal Welfare Law Violations | Opinion
Recently, the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine faced heavy charges for many Violations of animal protection law. The accusations may be true, but I feel like the “there are two sides to the truth” scenario applies here.
As noted in the Technician’s article above, on May 11, three animals were euthanized due to improper care and handling not only by staff, but also by students. A horse was euthanized due to an inability to recognize the symptoms of a bladder stone, later diagnosed when it was too late. A ferret was euthanized after prolonged surgery and a rabbit was euthanized due to mishandling resulting in a spinal fracture. These violations were not the only ones. In 2021, three violations were reported; one regarding the lack of shelter or shade for horses in a pasture.
The violations are serious, sinister even. Personally, I can’t speak for the horse or the ferret, but I can speak for the rabbit. I worked in a veterinary hospital for over two years before going back to school. I can reveal that no matter how prepared, trained or experienced you are, handling a rabbit is like rolling the dice.
Rabbits are notorious for back injuries that can happen anytime, even in the home at the hands of the owner. Some rabbits are easy to handle, while others may kick their hind legs unexpectedly to get away from you, which can cause back injuries. I know I’ve held my breath every time I’ve detained a rabbit for a vet.
I couldn’t imagine being a student who may or may not have a lot of experience working with animals and holding a rabbit for the very first time, or even the third or fifth time. Although students are trained and demonstrate restraints, you never really learn until you have hands-on, hands-on experience. Even then, you will always learn something new down the line.
It takes time to figure out which restraint tactics work best for you and the animal. It takes time to adapt to countless protocols and procedures. There is also human error and the unexpected in diagnosis and surgery. I doubt the vet school staff and students are walking around heartless or taking this as a joke. Having worked in a veterinary hospital, I can also imagine the complexity of veterinary staff and student workdays, especially with study and research added to it all.
Since I don’t believe that the staff and students are heartless or even careless individuals, it makes me wonder about the truth behind the three incidents. PETA Stating that the school should lose its license puts the school in a sticky situation, and it would be best to hear the full story from the school itself before jumping to conclusions.
Mike Charbonneau, Director of Marketing and Communications at the College of Veterinary Medicine, made only one statement to CBS17 regarding the euthanized horse, saying it was an “isolated incident” and because of that they are “reinforcing daily health monitoring procedures and requirements.” Personally, I do not think this is a sufficient explanation to calm the violations or prove that changes will be made to improve staff, students and animals. If anything, the college should come out and speak publicly about all violations, even past violations from 2021, to show genuine concern for improving their procedures and requirements.
In life, if you say nothing at all, then you immediately put yourself at fault with room for others to fill in the missing pieces. Even though staff and students are fully responsible, exposing the truth publicly can mean deep understanding of the issue at hand and lead to the right course of action to improve on mistakes made.
At any time and in any field of work or study, acting on mistakes made always leads to a successful resolution. This would be a good starting point for the College of Veterinary Medicine.