You heard right. A team of two veterinarians from Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island in Canada) offered a two week clinic in seal skull crushing.

With a snazzy slideshow and bloody cool pics of exploding seal calf skulls, these two veterinarians made international news when they invited Newfoundland seal harvesters to come on down and watch the show.

But no, the goal was not what the some of you might be thinking. These veterinarians were not aiming to waggle a finger at their crowd with an animal rights version of marine mammal cruelty. Instead, they were trying to teach the sealers how to aim right and kill the first time, every time. 

Ouch! Hot on the heals of a tragic post on euthanasia comes this story, one that pits veterinarians against one another over the contentious issue of seal hunting. 

While pragmatic veterinarians might argue that it’s not only our right but our duty to teach hunters how to kill their prey more cleanly and humanely, others among us contend that bludgeoning skulls is a sick business completely at odds with our pledge to end animal suffering by humane means. 

The latter camp, in which I include myself, would have the entire practice abolished, along with the trade in hunted and trapped pelts. Animals amenable to farming? Go for it if you must, but abide by standards of humane treatment that veterinarians the world over have agreed upon. Otherwise, don’t expect our concessions to your ways and the assistance that comes with it.

My view of seal hunting is plain. Bludgeoning skulls is an inexact art––and therefore a cruel practice. Veterinarians who help teach better bludgeoning techniques may improve the seal kill rate and may well relieve animal suffering significantly. But at what cost?

To me, teaching better seal clubbing is no different than having a [human] anesthesiologist attend to capital punishment cases. In our sister profession such violations of the medical oath are verbotten. Not so in veterinary medicine. Not when it can be argued that “relieving animal suffering” supersedes “above all do no harm.”