As a Society, and as individuals, we're often faced with difficult decisions.
We believe that everyone in society should carefully consider how they interact with, and impact on the lives of, animals - whether in the wild, in our homes, on farms or in research establishments.
For us, seeking to do ‘the right thing’ for animals often involves having to make some very tough decisions. For instance, on a daily basis our vets and animal care staff have to make difficult judgments about the future quality of life of individual animals, and what is in their ‘best interests’, when deciding how far to go in trying to treat, rehome or release them.
This might mean us saying no to a hopeful family who would like to rehome a dog but don’t have room, or euthanasing a wild animal that would not be able to fend for itself when released.
In some situations, our desire to help one set of animals may carry a direct or indirect cost to others. For example, the veterinary vaccines we encourage millions of pet and other animal owners to use (and which we buy and use ourselves) have been developed and tested using laboratory animals in experiments, many of which cause significant suffering.
There are other sorts of dilemmas in our work for wildlife and in our animal centres. For example, to care for and rehabilitate animals we need to feed them an appropriate diet, which is likely to be sourced from other animals farmed to provide food. The experience of these animals is also of great concern to us.
Few animal welfare decisions are simple or ‘black-and-white’ and we must always consider the wider context and consequences of our actions. We believe it is important to be honest and open about how we deal with the difficult situations that arise in our daily work.
We seek to ensure that any negative impacts on animals resulting from our activities are identified and that everyone involved acknowledges the potential dilemmas wherever and whenever they arise. Wherever possible we promote or implement those practical steps that help maximise positive outcomes for animals and avoid or minimise any negative impacts.
Unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world where every activity undertaken only results in positive outcomes for all animals.
We can be proud of our significant achievements and the substantial contribution we make each day to directly improving the lives of millions of animals - but we will not, and must not, ignore those for whom the outcome of our actions is less desirable.
For a more detailed look at some of these issues take a look at the recent Difficult decisions (2010) (PDF 146KB) article from our Animal Life publication.