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Ethically challenging situations are common in veterinary practice, and they may be a source of moral stress, which may in turn impact the welfare of veterinarians. Despite recognition of the importance of ethical reasoning, some veterinary students may struggle to apply theoretical ethical frameworks. Fraser developed a “practical” ethic consisting of four principles that can be applied to ethically challenging situations. We apply Fraser’s “practical” ethic to three cases that veterinarians may encounter: animal hoarding, animal neglect, and treatment of wildlife. We argue that Fraser’s “practical” ethic is consistent with a One Welfare framework, and may have increasing currency for veterinarians in the light of the World Animal Health Organisation’s Global Animal Welfare Strategy. Both Fraser’s “practical” ethic and a One Welfare framework require veterinarians to consider the impacts of animal ethics decisions on a broader scale than most other ethical frameworks have prepared them for. We discuss the strengths and limitations of Fraser’s “practical” ethic when applied in veterinary contexts and recommend additional support and training to enable veterinarians to effectively apply these frameworks in real-world settings.


Open access article