image of golden retriever with tongue out, against black background

End-of-life decisions in non-production animals

Most animals in our care are not left to die without human intervention. What form should that intervention take and when should it be delivered?

This special Sydney Ideas event celebrates the 10th Annual Robert Dixon Memorial Animal Welfare Symposium and explores a series of critical questions regarding companion, performance and wild animals.

Increasingly, people see companion animals as 'part of the family.' Pet bereavement is more widely recognised.

The treatment of animals used in work, sport, recreation and display can draw strong, emotional responses from the public.

Considering we don't euthanase humans, how do we navigate through the ethics of conduct in this space and the potential conflicts of interest?

In the 2020 Robert Dixon Memorial Symposium, our panel will discuss factors that influence end-of-life decisions.

This event is presented in collaboration with the Centre for Veterinary Education, in memory of the late Dr Robert Dixon. For many years, Robert held the faculty position of Associate Dean for Animal Welfare while serving on the University's Animal Ethics Committee. 


The speakers

Larry graduated with a BVSc degree from the University of Sydney in 1984. He then worked in mixed private practice before travelling overseas and working in England.  On return to Australia he worked in an avian practice in Sydney before starting as a Veterinary Intern at Taronga Zoo Sydney in 1990.

In 1996 Larry gained membership to the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists by examination in Zoo Medicine. 

Larry specialises in the health and reproductive management of small populations including ex-situ breeding programs for endangered species. He has participated in and advised on both in situ and ex situ components of numerous conservation projects, both in Australia and overseas. He has extensive experience with preventative medicine programs, zoonotic disease management, chemical restraint, reproductive management and clinical medicine in a wide range of species. His experience extends across mammalian, avian, reptilian and amphibian taxa.

Martin is Director Veterinary Services and Animal Welfare at the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission. The Commission was established as a result of the MacSporran Inquiry recommendations, the inquiry commissioned by the Queensland government in response to the live-baiting scandal in greyhound racing exposed in 2015.

Lenz graduated BVSc (Hons) from Sydney University in 1994. He worked in mixed equine practice for two years before heading to the United Kingdom to work in equine practice between 1997 and 2000, prior to working for the Singapore Turf Club as a regulatory and clinical equine vet.

In 2007 he commenced a racing regulatory role in Brisbane. That year, equine influenza broke out, causing horse racing to come to a complete halt. Strict biosecurity protocols and an extensive vaccination campaign eventually allowed racing to recommence, prior to the virus being declared eradicated from the country.

Emma graduated from the University of Melbourne and has been a qualified and registered Veterinarian since 1993. Dr Emma spent many years in general practice until 2004 when she established My Best Friend in order to provide pets and their families with private, peaceful and dignified care in the last stages of their time together.

My Best Friend is Australia's first and foremost dedicated Veterinary Home Euthanasia Service. Located in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, it is a mobile service. Established in 2004, My Best Friend is a specialised service particularly for elderly and terminally ill companion animals. It provides compassionate and personalised ‘end of life’ veterinary care for dearly loved pets in the private and familiar surroundings of their own home.

Peter is a graduate of the University of Melbourne. After time in general practice he completed residency training in small animal medicine in 1999 and then joined the faculty of Purdue University in Indiana where he was trained in oncology. He is a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (Canine Medicine) and a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Oncology, Small Animal Internal Medicine).

Since moving to Sydney in 2012 he has developed collaborations with researchers at the Kolling Institute, Sydney School of Medicine and the Westmead Institute of Medical Research. Peter is currently the Director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital Sydney. Peter continues to provide continuing education, primarily in Oncology, both nationally and internationally. He is the Postgraduate Director of the Clinical Residency program.

Kat is a Lecturer in Animal Welfare and teaches undergraduate and postgraduate animal welfare, behaviour, ethics, and law. She is a member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (ANZCVS) Animal Welfare Chapter. 

Kat is also a small animal veterinarian in the Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre. Her PhD research focuses on the veterinarian’s role in end-of-life (EoL) management of older and chronically ill cats in New Zealand.

Bidda is an Honorary Associate with the Sydney School of Veterinary Science. Her research interests focus on improving the welfare of animals in Australian society, from companion animals, animals in sport, native and introduced wild animals, to humane killing and slaughter. Bidda is a regular panellist at the Robert Dixon Memorial Symposia and is co-developing an introductory OLE unit on understanding animal welfare. She has published over 35 reports, book chapters and peer-reviewed articles and has represented animal welfare interests on numerous national committees and as an invited speaker at multiple conferences, workshops and symposia.

Event image: Photo by Brandon Day on Unsplash

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