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Essay Ideas 1 to 5

1. Wild animals at the vets?

A member of the public has reported a badger which appears to have a large lump growing on one side of its face. The lump seems to be growing although it is not causing the badger any obvious sign of distress. When the local badger group see the badger through a pair of binoculars, they can see that the badger is female and is currently feeding her badger cubs with her own milk. She will need to continue to feed them for several weeks.

  • What are the pros and cons of trying to capture the badger to treat it at the vets.
  • What might happen if the badger is away from the sett for a long time period?
  • What if the vet finds that the lump is untreatable?
  • What is the morality of allowing a wild animal to continue in a state of some ill health where we might have the means to treat it?
  • How might you (as a vet) overcome the demands of a member of the public that you treat the animal come what may?

2. Animal-based profits?

As a veterinary student you were trained to look after animals to the best of your ability. In training at university, the issue of the cost of treatment was mentioned but it did not form a major part of your education.

Now you are working as a vet, the fees you charge to customers are what pay your wages; and thereby provide the income and prosperity of your family. In terms of the law, you are allowed to refuse to treat an animal unless you can be fairly sure that your fees will be paid.

A member of the public comes into the practice with an injured wild animal they have found. When you refuse to treat an animal for free; the customer says they will not pay either. They seem a bit upset, and accuse you of doing no more than "profiting at the expense of animals".

  • What are the rights and wrongs of making an income or a profit from the animal welfare business?

3. Professional Obligations

You are working as a vet in a country practice which specialises in the welfare of farm animals. One farmer (one of your most lucrative clients) comes to see you with an injured sheepdog. The dog seems to have a broken lower jaw, several missing teeth, and extensive bite marks around the muzzle and on the rump. You very strongly suspect the dog is showing signs of having been in a fight - potentially with a badger.

  • What information might you seek from the farmer?
  • Should you demand that he admits to being a badger baiter?
  • At what point might you call the police?
  • Is there any point in trying to admit the dog for an overnight stay?
  • If you "shop" him to the police, you will lose his business (and possibly that other clients).
  • Can't you just tell him to leave with his dog immediately; and pretend he's never even been to see you?

4. The Head of the Family

An adult badger wants to explain to a group of children about what a badger does, what they eat, where they go at night, where they sleep during the day and what they really need us humans to do for them.

  • What should the badger say to the children?
  • What should the badgers say about the risks badgers are under?
  • What the should the badger ask the children to ask their parents to do more of?

5. A reformed character?

A man has been convicted of badger baiting. He was fined and went to jail, and served his full sentence. When he got out, he found that his wife had left him, and he got beaten up by the other members of the gang, because they got convicted too. Now he is genuinely "going straight" and has turned his back on his former life of crime. In fact, he currently works as a part-time wildlife warden, giving supervised talks in schools. A group of animal rights extremists publishes his name, address and telephone number and the details of his old badger baiting convictions on their web site, with a message "Come on people, you know what to do!".

  • Why might they be right or wrong to publish his details?
  • What do you think might motivate them to publish such information?
  • Is redemption enough to wipe-out the harm done by a previous serious crime?
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