There has been some recent social media publicity surrounding a naked calendar produced and available for purchase by the student union of the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). In particular, one of the images appears to have been singled out for comment. The image is one of a group of veterinary students in a sheep shed naked, with a number of sheep ‘tipped’ in front of them. The tradition of a naked calendar is well founded in both normal society and veterinary schools since the Women’s Institute calendar of 1999 famously recollected in a film. Since then, many calendars have featured a number of images of naked people using images to hide their modesty. The image in question has been singled out by a group called ‘The Vegan Vet Network’, presumably as it uses farm animals in the imagery, as opposed to a multitude of other images involving companion animals – ‘Firemen with cats’ appears to be one which has escaped criticism.
In the image in question, the vet students are demonstrating a standard handling mechanism in animal husbandry – that of tipping a sheep to allow examination of their feet and other areas which would not be examinable in a standing sheep. This is widely recognised as being safe and pain-free for the animals. As such, the BCVA feel that singling this image and these students out for attention is grossly unfair. Some of the vitriol spread in their direction from members of the same profession, and one with the highest incidence of mental health diagnoses and suicide within the profession, is both grossly unfair, unfounded and should be condemned. Further, we feel that the RVC have a role in supporting these students, rather than their statement released which appears to condemn their actions. Such an institute should be making their decision on evidence rather than a small, vocal social media thread.
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