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Reverence for Life Tenets Near Approval

by William Reinhard

February 25, 2021

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WesternU operates with a basic ethical philosophy of reverence for life, a credo first espoused by Dr. Albert Schweitzer a century ago. In every avenue of operation, the University attempts to incorporate this way of thinking into its daily actions and decisions.

In an attempt to make this philosophy more tangible, the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Reverence for Life Committee has created basic tenets by which the CVM can incorporate the philosophy into its daily operations as a teaching institution. The tenets are not designed to be specific; rather they provide general guidance for decision-making.

Committee members continue to seek input before putting the finishing touches on the document. The tenets are as follows:

Academic activities, curricular and non-curricular, within the College must be guided by the following basic tenets of Reverence for Life:

1) Because animals are sentient creatures, we will not intentionally kill, hurt or harm animals solely for the purpose of the educational process.
2) We will treat all owners, donors, animals and cadavers with respect during the procurement process and all academic activities. We will show reverence for their contribution and every effort will be made to ensure mutual understanding of animal use and final outcomes.
3) We will recognize the impact that our interactions have on the animals and act promptly for the welfare of the animal. We prioritize the health and wellbeing of the individual patient over educational opportunities for students.
4) We will remain diligent in our efforts to minimize animal pain, stress and discomfort by using and teaching minimal stress-handling techniques.
5) We will not purchase animals, alive or deceased, for the sole purpose of teaching or education.
6) We will neither advocate for, nor participate in, euthanasia decisions undertaken exclusively for the purposes of obtaining animal cadavers for teaching purposes.
7) We will not condone medical or surgical procedures solely for aesthetic or cosmetic reasons.
8) We will balance the quantity of animal donations with the educational needs of the College and maximize the teaching value of each death by fully utilizing the body for teaching purposes.
9) We will apply these tenets when considering the acceptance of animals when unique opportunities arise.
10) We will educate our students on the principles of Reverence for Life and will explicitly and implicitly model them by our example.

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