Student Essay Competition

1st Prize $750

2nd Prize $350

The Sentient Executive invites veterinary students to submit essays considering the welfare and ethical issues that affect animals used in food production, experimentation or entertainment. 


Essays must meet the following objectives:


Identify an area of animal use that concerns you on welfare and ethical grounds, and discuss the role of the veterinary profession in addressing these issues.


We encourage students to select their own topics within this guideline, because we believe this will foster the most impassioned and creative submissions. 


The winning essays must demonstrat critical analysis of the identified issues, ethical  consideration for the animals concerned, and a discussion of the role of the veterinary profession, including the application of animal welfare science to develop  potential solutions. Essays may also include a personal reflection on the topic.


All essays are to be submitted by Close of Business, 31 January 2016 - DEADLINE EXTENDED!!

1st Prize 2015 Sentient Student Essay Competition

Sentient The Veterinary Institute for Animal Ethics

What do we talk about when we talk about dogs?


By WanRan Luo


What do we talk about when we talk about dogs? Usually we speak, smiling, in terms of love, of touch, and of laughter. There is little question that mankind is drawn to dogs- we have made approximately three hundred and forty flavours of our familiar canine friend. Our biophilia is instinctive, covetous – and selfish.

For all that we love our dogs, the human-canine relationship is commonly defined only along the human’s terms. In its most elementary form, we see this in our inability to understand them. Anyone who has lived on the internet has seen videos of ‘funny dogs’. These generate millions of views and likes, but often the comedy is derived from the attitude of a highly uncomfortable dog. Not only does this reveal the disconnect between us and our dogs, it normalises their distress and makes it okay for us to laugh about it. Additionally, the constant stream of reports about people attacked by the family pet – “with no warning!”- demonstrates either the prevalence of psychopathy in dogs or our inability to recognise signs of stress. Unfortunately, even our attempts to initate play are less successful than we’d like.

Sentient The Veterinary Institute for Animal Ethics


Refining pain relief during lamb castration and tail-docking


By Holly Pickett


A number of painful procedures are generally performed on lambs without pain relief, including mulesing, tail-docking, castration, ear-marking and ear-tagging (EFSA, 2014; Melches et al., 2007; Molony et al., 2011; Rutherford, 2002). Techniques involved and use of analgesics are considerably affected by labour and economic constraints (Stewart et al., 2014), which have significant impacts on the welfare of the animals involved (Molony et al., 2002). Of particular concern are young animals (Guesgen, 2011; Bateson, 1991). Behaviour assessment and cortisol levels of lambs, kids and calves suggest that castration stress is greatest in lambs (Mellor, 1991). “Stress” results when an individual experiences acute, chronic or long-term disruption in homeostasis (Edwards et al., 2011), but historically the idea of animals feeling pain was grossly underestimated or dismissed (Anand & Craig, 1996). Change in this aspect of animal welfare requires scientific innovation, a change in cultural values and a willingness to address economical, technological and regulatory constraints (Weary et al., 2006). This is an innovation that should be grasped by Veterinarians. As respected professionals in the industry, animal welfare and welfare improvement, should be on the fore front of the agenda. 

Sentient The Veterinary Institute for Animal Ethics


The ethics of euthanising greyhounds and the role of veterinarians



By Caroline Hoetzer



Significant ethical and welfare issues for greyhounds arise as a product of the nature of the commercial racing industry. Since 2000, and most recently in 2014, investigations into the integrity of the greyhound industry have exposed ethical and welfare concerns regarding greyhounds that penetrate every level of the racing industry (ICAC, 2000; Lewis, 2008; Scott 2008; Select Committee on Greyhound Racing in NSW, 2014). Since the greyhound racing industry is not independently regulated, it is insulated from external scrutiny. 

The Effect of Dehorning Management and Genetic Selection on the Welfare of Food Producing Cattle

 It was like a horrific crime scene; blood was splattered on the walls and smeared on the trucks floor as the cattle attempted to regain their footing. In the heat of the day, these cattle had had large bleeding wounds carved into their skulls before being transported to our property. They were restrained and conscious during the procedure to feel the full spectrum of pain, fear and distress. You may be surprised to hear that is an accepted management practice to remove horns and surrounding skin without pain relief in many countries including Australia. Too often we take our basic human rights, such as freedom such inhumane treatment, for granted. As a veterinary student, I’m entering a profession with the responsibility of advocating and protecting the health and welfare of animals and therefore give them a voice. 

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Supported by Voiceless, the animal protection institute. Whilst Voiceless has provided financial assistance in connection with the project, it does not neccessarily endorse the views expressed nor does it guarantee the accuracy or completeness or legality of the material provided.