(Disabled) animals Articles/journals Sanctuaries

Two veterinarians refuse to treat a steer because he lives on a farm sanctuary

Pete is a Hereford steer, who was bottle-fed and now lives on Spring Farm Sanctuary (Minnesota, US). The farm sanctuary is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating farm animals and promoting compassionate living. All animals were originally destined for slaughter, but can live the rest of their natural life span at the sanctuary.

A couple of weeks ago, steer Pete unfortunately slipped on a patch of ice and splayed on the ground and was in a lot of pain. The sanctuary called their usual clinic for the vet to come over for this emergency, but was told that the vet would not come. First it was said it was too far, but after asking more info, there seemed to be another reason. The veterinarian’s office reportedly said: “We’re also not really in agreement with the advertisements that are posted at the sanctuary”. The “advertisements” are posters displaying facts about agriculture – for example that cows are separated from their calves on the day they are born. The clinic further said they only treat “animals that feed people” and that the sanctuary should try different clinics and veterinarians.

Spring Farm sanctuary called another clinic, but again nobody was willing to come. Reportedly again because Pete was not being raised to be slaughtered.

Pete, photo from website Spring Farm Sanctary [ID: brown/white patched steer looking into camera, in lush pasture]

The volunteers of the sanctuary put down sand and padding, and Pete got back on his feet and seemed to be okay. But it could easily have turned out otherwise, as his companion steer Scruffy died from a fall a year earlier. So Pete was lucky.
It also poses questions for the further treatment of the animals at the sanctuary.

Apparently under State law, veterinarians have the right to pick and choose their patients.
But the Veterinarian’s oath from the American Veterinary Medical Association reads:

Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.

So refusing to respond to an emergency case seems to be at odds with the Veterinarian’s oath. In any case, legal or not, it is unethical and a clear case of speciesism – and also ableism.

Have you encountered instances where a veterinarian refused to treat animals? For what reason?
Please let me know in the comments. 


Sping Farm Sanctuary: https://springfarmsanctuary.org/

Pete’s bio: https://springfarmsanctuary.org/pete/

Two Minnesota vets refuse to treat an animal from a no kill farm sanctuary, City Pages, March 27, 2019.

Veterinarian’s oath, American veterinary Medical Association, consulted March 27, 2019.

Geertrui Cazaux (Trudi). Vegan. Gardener. Wife. Disabled. Writer. Activist. Caretaker. Ex-academic. °1970. Belgium. Vegetarian since mid '90's and vegan since 2010. My main motive has always been the ethical perspective, although I am also inspired by the environmental and health aspects. Writing about veganism, animal rights and ableism on Graswortels.org, Brugesvegan.com, and CripHumanimal.org

3 comments on “Two veterinarians refuse to treat a steer because he lives on a farm sanctuary

  1. carolsai108

    Yes… shameful… I pity the poor “pet” companion animals who are seen by these so-called veterinarians. They have no concern whatsoever for animals. This is very sad, and I am sure is not a rare incident. When in training, the veterinarian students are “warned” against Animal Rights activists. There are so few vets whose thinking is in line with AR.

    Thank you, Trudi, for all of the good articles you bring us… and thank you for working on behalf of the animals.

    Liked by 1 person

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