Vet Gerrit Kampmann: “Ethical Dilemmas”

Text: Ageeth van der Lee | Photos: Fotolavie Ineke / Istock

Gerritt: “Like my colleagues, I became a vet because I want to make animals better. Sick animals belong to their respective owners, and in practice, you seem as a vet often busy helping people make the right animal decision. I graduated as a vet over Twenty years ago.After initially working with cattle and horses, I have now completely focused on training horses.In those twenty years, I’ve seen the profession change.Technically speaking, there is a lot more technical potential and owners are more emotionally involved with their horses.From an ethical point of view This combination sometimes creates dilemmas. What I often learn in refresher courses is “you shouldn’t think for the customer.” This is easier said than done if, as a veterinarian, you want to protect the horse and owner from unrealistic expectations. If an old horse is suffering from Joint pain due to osteoarthritis, when is the right time to say goodbye?I would like to avoid the moment when the animal is no longer able to get up, but owners still see their horse scratching and they put off the inevitable for a while. Who was born with a leg so skewed, before you realized that an animal would not have an existence worthy of a horse? What if a horse suddenly gets seriously injured, with heavy bleeding that does not spare him, but the owner is in such a state of complete shock that he is no longer able to think rationally and has not made a decision to let him go? “


“One case early in my career that haunted me for a long time and caused sleepless nights. During the weekend emergency service, an owner called me if I wanted to come over and look at his daughter’s horse. The horse was a bit lazy in the crate and didn’t eat its food. When On arrival I see a large testicle still standing in the box, its head slightly down and its abdomen folded upwards.I notice a very high heart rate of 100 per minute, absence of bowel sounds and red-brown mucous membranes, the testicle is accompanied by a high fever.On rectal examination , I suspect a change in the position of the colon, a condition that would be fatal to the testicle. All alarm bells are ringing in full force and I realize I have sad news to bring to father and daughter. However, they only see that the testicles are a bit lazy and find it hard to believe that their great friend Very sick.As a veterinarian, I can only point out in the conversation that the situation is really very serious.Personally I can think that sleep is the best thing for an animal, a lot of owners are not ready for this, especially if the decision has to be taken suddenly.It is understandable It is very humane for owners to use every straw in the hope that their horse can still be cured. However, the question is to what extent you should go along with that, in favor of the horse. I tried to explain to the father and daughter that surgery in my opinion would not save anymore. The father wanted more support for his daughter who is not cherished until the eunuch sleeps, so we decided by mutual consultation to take the horse to a clinic for additional information to be collected there. I was expecting the vet at the clinic to confirm my diagnosis, and I hoped that would help the owners make the decision to stop letting their testicles suffer. A few hours later I got a call from the vet at the clinic. He emphasized that the outlook was very poor and that the chances of success after surgery were nil.”


“After the conversation with the vet at the clinic, I assumed, with rather relief, that the testicle would be discarded. Two days later I got another call from the clinic saying that the castration, with a survival rate of five to ten percent, had been placed on the operating table at the owners’ request. Even if two veterinarians indicate that the horse is out of treatment, the final decision is up to the owner. The neuter was not feeling well after the operation and two days later the animal had to sleep. Should I have tried so hard to convince the owners to put the horse to sleep right away? That a clinic vet refuses to operate on an animal? These are ethical dilemmas that vets face regularly and lead to nightly meditations.”

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