28 Jan 2022

Offaly author jointly pens new guide on veterinary law and practice


Authors Finola Colgan and Lisa Geraghty

MANY people are familiar with James Heriot the wonderful author of the series of books “All Creatures Great and Small”, however it was his pseudonym for his real name Alf Wright, Veterinary Surgeon. Unquestionable his name achieved huge public awareness through his writing and generated great interest in the veterinary profession and to pursue it as a career. In the intervening years since Heriot existed, much has changed within the profession.

Although it is a more regulated profession higher expectations from animal owners and in keeping with medical and technical advances there are many new and sometimes unforgiving demands made on veterinary practitioners and veterinary practices.

Nonetheless the human touch in the care of animals supersedes any technical advances over the decades has not invariable changed. It is within this context of changing times of regulations, governance, duty of care and the need for personal self-care that forms the backdrop for the new book 'Veterinary Law and Practice in Ireland.'

The book is co-authored by Finola Colgan, a lecturer who lives on the Offaly/ Westmeath border, and Lisa Geraghty, a practising vet.

It is a unique Irish publication that examines current legislation and case law relevant to the veterinary profession and veterinary practice. Henry Abbott Senior Counsel Judge of the High Court (retired) highlighted in his Foreword that “This book will be an important reference work for any veterinary surgeon or a lawyer embarking on researching the detail of the many regulatory, ethical or commercial considerations relating to practice of veterinary medicine.”

Legal issues that are of most relevant to Veterinary Practice settings such as employment law, including the importance of creating well-constructed restrictive covenants and what is expected when functioning in the role of being an expert witness are all carefully considered. Contract law matters professional negligence and duty of care are examined by reflecting and taking into consideration the fact that a veterinary practitioner has a dual responsibility to their patient and its owner. These relationships can frequently raise ethical considerations, sometimes conflict along with governance matters are addressed by the authors.

Within the mix of regulatory and technical matters it was deemed important to include a chapter on the mental health and wellbeing needs within the profession and veterinary practices a topic recently highlighted in Agriland. As noted by Henry Abbott “That this increasingly complex (and sometimes combative) environment gives rise to stress is recognised by the chapter on self-care and well-being for vets and their staff. Of topical relevance to the recent media narrative of the phenomenon known as compassion fatigue of the medical profession during Covid is the analysis of the risk of the condition arising in a veterinary practice.” Compassionate fatigue is a universal challenge for the veterinary profession. The Veterinary Council of Ireland has produced SAFEVET SMART authored by Dr. Margaret O’Rourke.

Finola commented that the publication of the book came about through a combination of personal events, opportunities and meeting of minds . Finola is involved in their family Tullaghansleek Stud and has had many years of exposure to veterinary practitioners coming and going , Lisa a Veterinary Practitioner and Lecturer in TUS and a former law student met as student and lecturer some years back. The seed of the book had been lurking in Finola’s mind as she believe ed it was a missing publication on the legal and human resource bookshelf. It did not take much to persuade convince Lisa to get involved in the enterprise. Lisa has brought her expertise both clinical, practical, and given excellent insights on how the legislation that directly impact on the veterinary professions in their clinical roles.

“We believe that Veterinary Law and Practice in Ireland has a unique place on the bookshelf as it addresses the application of law in an Irish setting. Our objective was to bring a practical understating of the law and its special and particular relationship within the veterinary professions.” This has been duly recognised by Henry Abbott in his Foreword “But this is much more than a reference work: it is a very good read for the non-technical person. Not only would they get a good overview of the detailed provisions of the law, but also, the background against which these provisions should be considered. Great life is given to the discourse by the use of practical summaries for action, or practical examples of the effects of particular provisions on practice.

This publication is available to purchase directly from the publishing house (RRP €39). And locally through the Midland Bookshop Tullamore and Mullingar

Finola Colgan Carey is a law lecturer in the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest, and holds the following qualifications, BA, LL.B, LL.M, Higher Diploma in Education, Diploma in Project Management, Certificate in Train the Trainer and PG Diploma in Workplace Health Promotion.

Dr Lisa Geraghty MVB, MSc, BA(Hons) Law, AM is a veterinary practitioner who lectures in Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest and consults on employment law compliance workplace dispute resolution in veterinary practice.

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