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BVA challenges the Guardian on deeply ‘offensive’ and ‘damaging’ characterisation of vets

23 Nov 2023


Following the recent publication of an article by Adrian Chiles in the Guardian which attempts to undermine the integrity of both the veterinary profession and questions the motives of hard-working vet teams, BVA’s President Anna Judson has written to the Editor of the Guardian Media Group to express her serious concerns.

BVA challenges the Guardian on deeply ‘offensive’ and ‘damaging’ characterisation of vets Image

British Veterinary Association President Anna Judson said: "As a vet of more than 30 years and President of the British Veterinary Association representing more than 19,000 members, I am seriously concerned to read Adrian Chiles’s recent Guardian column, What have I learned after three years of dog ownership? Beware of vet bills (16 November 2023).

"In his article, Mr. Chiles attempts to undermine the integrity of the veterinary profession, reducing hard working, highly skilled people to profiteering ‘marketing zealots’ that put ‘upselling’ ahead of animal welfare. This characterisation of vets and their teams is deeply offensive, extremely damaging and could not be further from the truth.

"Fundamentally, vets care deeply about the welfare of animals, and it is this that is often the motivation to enter what is a highly pressured profession. Therefore, articles like Mr. Chiles’s, that perpetuate untruths about their motivations and the care they recommend to owners is highly damaging, both to the welfare of vets working on the front line, who are facing increasing abuse from clients on a daily basis and the long-term sustainability of the profession.

"The UK needs more vets. There has been an unprecedented boom in pet ownership since the pandemic and alongside companion animal care, vets play an integral role in the UK’s farming sectors, imports and exports, as well as public health. It is therefore vital that we can continue to encourage young people to enter the profession but articles like Mr. Chiles’s only serve to push them away, fearing unfair scrutiny.

"I understand that a trip to the vets can be costly but sadly there are no NHS subsidies for animals. However, from my experience vets are pragmatists and will always work with a client to find a treatment plan that is right for them and their animal.

"As a Guardian reader, I have always valued its balance and integrity. I’m therefore saddened to contact you over this article which delivers unfettered criticism of a profession and its people, already working under difficult circumstances and who are striving to do their best for their patients and clients. I urge you to remember the people behind these stories and the very real impacts articles like these can have."

We are pleased to report that in response to our letter and other letters from impassioned vets, Adrian Chiles has since issued a public apology to the profession.


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