Two Worlds in One: What ‘Counts’ as Animal Advocacy for Veterinarians Working in UK Animal Research?

Renelle McGlacken, Alistair Anderson and Pru Hobson-West
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The concept of advocacy is of increasing importance to the veterinary profession internationally, yet there are concerns about what it means in practice. This paper explores what ‘animal advocacy’ involves for veterinarians working in an area where its performance may appear particularly challenging, that of animal research. Based on an analysis of interviews with veterinarians working in UK animal research facilities, we aim to demonstrate both what ‘counts’ as veterinary animal advocacy in this domain and illustrate some of the tensions that may arise in its performance. Focusing on the themes of ‘mitigating suffering’, ‘speaking for’, and ‘driving change’ as three central ways in which veterinarians working in animal research facilities act as animal advocates, we draw out some of the complexities of advocacy for veterinarians working in areas where animal care and harm coexist. Finally, we conclude by calling for further empirical exploration of animal advocacy in other veterinary domains and for more critical attention to the wider social systems which produce the need for such advocacy.

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