This article, the second in a series of three, uses the general principles of veterinary ethics that were discussed in the last issue of In Practice (January/February 2019, volume 41, pp 42-44) to decide whether tail docking should be authorised on a farm on which there is a high prevalence of tail biting. It does not suggest an outcome but tries neutrally to highlight how each pathway might be defended or challenged to improve reflection and discussion with the farmer and colleagues. If we know we have reasoned well, we can confidently implement our decision. The third in this series of articles, which will be published in a subsequent issue of In Practice, will present a step-by-step guide to resolving ethical dilemmas in veterinary practice.
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