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Justine’s sustainability pledge: Promoting responsible use of parasiticides

12 Jan 2022 | Justine Shotton


We’re calling on all members of the veterinary profession to join #GreenTeamVet and sign up to our sustainability pledge. In this blog, President Justine Shotton tells us why this is important and why she chose to commit to promoting responsible use of parasiticides.

Justine’s sustainability pledge: Promoting responsible use of parasiticides Image

I hope you’re all aware by now that my presidential theme is sustainability, with a focus on environmental sustainability. This is something that I’ve always cared passionately about but which is also so important to all of us, now more than ever. 

It’s a subject that requires action from all of us, and through our individual and practice-level actions we really can make a tangible difference. I know sometimes the headlines can make us feel overwhelmed and like things are quite bleak, or that the solutions need to be made by governments or others. So, it’s important to focus on the positives of what we can do, and the differences we can make with the things that we can control.

We all need to start somewhere, which is why we’re calling on everyone to make one simple pledge, to help us work towards a greener veterinary profession.

Can one pledge make a difference?

One of the most challenging areas is deciding what we can do first and what will make the biggest difference. However small the action, pledging helps you to focus one thing to start working on, increasing the likelihood that you will achieve it. I hope that achieving your pledge will inspire you to do more, to talk about your impact and to inspire others. This catalytic ripple effect will then really amass to make a bigger and wider positive impact on our planet.    

We are a well-respected and trusted profession, and as leaders in our communities it’s important we also engage with our clients on the sustainability agenda. We can lead by example, eg showcasing what we have done in our workplaces to champion sustainability. We can also have conversations with clients, such as discussing how to mitigate the carbon ‘pawprint’ of their pets or talking about responsible medicine use with respect to antibiotics or parasiticides. Making your sustainability pledge is a symbol of your commitment, signalling to both colleagues and clients that this is something that matters to you.

My pledge

I’ve pledged to promote the BVA’s position on the responsible use of parasiticides for cats and dogs, and to work with vets and industry to achieve collaborative progress in this area. The use of parasiticides in small animal practice is a complex One Health challenge, as our position shows.

I chose this pledge as I think this is an area where veterinary professionals can make a real difference, through a more risk-based and mindful approach to parasiticide use in our patients. Parasiticides are harmful to a wide range of invertebrates, and with even small doses potentially impacting large numbers, this could be highly detrimental to wildlife and ecosystems and, in turn, public health.

I plan to use my position as President of BVA to help highlight the challenges and encourage the profession to take the lead on finding solutions. I am keen to avoid polarisation around this topic, and our position calls for more research and data on this topic to help better inform a holistic, evidence-based approach.

I will use every opportunity I can to spread the word, such as speaking at conferences or on webinars, writing articles and telling individuals about our position as much as I can. I will really listen to stakeholders and find common ground on ways we can all move forward, engaging with all sectors to navigate better ways of approaching parasiticide use. BVA is well placed to have meetings and conversations with key stakeholders, so I have already been able to talk to many of the groups our position affects. These have already highlighted many opportunities for progress, so I am looking forward to continuing these conversations.

I will also help BVA to develop resources, to provide more guidance for vets in practice. We have previously developed resources on responsible use of antimicrobials in practice, so I envisage taking a similar approach for parasiticides. We’d also be interested to hear what resources you would find most useful, so please get in touch with the policy team if you have ideas.

Next steps

Read through the Greener Veterinary Practice Checklist, to help inspire you to make changes in your workplace. Choose an action from the checklist which you can implement in your workplace – any of these will help you to be more sustainable. It doesn’t matter where you start, beginning the journey is the most important step, and will hopefully lead to many more changes in the future. You can also find relevant guidance and resources for inspiration on our #GreenTeamVet profession campaign page.

Once you decided on an action, make your pledge online, and don’t forget to tell everyone you’ve done it. We’ll be using #GreenTeamVet on social media.

If we all take action, together we really can make a difference. Thank you for taking the time to help make the future better for us all. 


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