Officers and senior staff of the leading veterinary and nursing bodies have published an open letter to colleagues decrying the use of “derogatory and offensive language” used in online vet forums, according to the BVA.
In the letter, leaders accept the need for challenge and criticism of their views and actions but warn against the use of personal attacks that could prevent people from putting themselves forward for leadership roles in the future.
The letter, co-signed by representatives from BVA, RCVS, AVS, BSAVA, BVZS, BVNA, SPVS, and VMG, suggests that such language “is wholly inappropriate and falls far short of the expectations of professionals.” It notes with concern that women, and people from minorities, “often face the worst of it”.
The letter was coordinated by BVA President Daniella Dos Santos, whose presidential theme is #VetDiversity. She said: “Online veterinary forums can be a fantastic place for us to share ideas or concerns and support one another but they can also have a darker side. I’ve become increasingly aware of people using forums and other social media to attack and criticise individuals who I know are working hard for our profession.
“I’ve personally been on the receiving end of it, being described as foul, lacking in integrity, incompetent, unsuitable to lead, rotten, idiot, shameful, corrupt or a token. But I know colleagues who have faced far worse and enough is enough.”
She added: “It’s high time we collectively speak up and I’m incredibly grateful to those who have co-signed this open letter to our colleagues. Every single vet or vet nurse who volunteers or works as an officer or committee member within the veterinary sphere and all of our lay colleagues work hard on behalf of our professions.
“Our key message is that the mantra to #BeKind, that is so prevalent in our veterinary community, extends to those in leadership positions too.”