Across States and Overseas

Dear Colleagues,

Say hello to your first issue of AVMA@Work, a monthly e-letter bringing you news and updates about the goings-on at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois and in Washington, D.C. Dr. DeHaven and I hope AVMA@Work enlightens you as an individual member and strengthens the AVMA as a whole as we work toward our common goal of improving animal and human health, and advancing the veterinary medical profession.

When it comes to animal health, the AVMA has, since its founding, supported the welfare of animals through development and promotion of science-based policies and guidelines. Your clients have questions … and we’ve got answers. The AVMA’s new Animal Welfare Division has prepared a series of issue-specific backgrounders and quality resources that can help you answer some of those tough questions. Current topics include: tail docking, castration, dehorning and disbudding of cattle; dogs traveling in truck beds; and foie gras. Future backgrounders – on topics such as leg hold traps, use of guides and tethers to train elephants, and tethering and ear cropping in dogs – are in the works. The backgrounders can be found at www.avma.org. We recommend giving them a look.

As you are probably aware, animal welfare debates are often sparked by proposals for new local, state and federal laws. The Governmental Relations Division wants to remind you that you can make a difference when it comes to impacting the passage of laws and regulations that affect veterinary medicine. That is why we ask each of you to participate in the newly energized Congressional Action Network. We are looking to identify at least one veterinarian in each congressional district who can be our champion for veterinary issues by getting to know elected officials and by recruiting other local veterinarians to further our grass-roots efforts in affecting legislation. Call Christine Baker, our political action committee/grassroots manager, today at 202-289-3206 or e-mail her at cbaker@avma.org and let her know you’re willing to help.

Recommending a particular pet food to your clients? Then you need to know that the AVMA Executive Board recently approved a policy dealing with therapeutic pet foods that may affect your practice. Researched by AVMA’s Scientific Activities Division and recommended by the Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents, the policy urges both veterinarians and the pet food industry to exercise due diligence before they promote a food’s medicinal qualities. The policy, which can be found along with other AVMA policies at www.avma.org/issues, asks veterinarians ” … to critically assess all product labels, advertising, and promotional materials utilizing principals of evidence based medicine prior to utilization or recommendation of any wellness or therapeutic food.” It also encourages the pet food industry ” … to act responsibly in making claims of therapeutic efficacy supported by quality scientific evidence.”

In matters more worldly, Dr. Elizabeth Sabin, assistant director of the AVMA Education and Research Division, recently returned from Kabul, where she attended the first National Convention of the Afghanistan Veterinary Association (AVA), Sept. 4-5. Dr. Sabin represented the AVMA at the historic meeting – the first gathering of any Afghan professional association – whose theme was “Food security through animal health.” We are delighted that the Afghanistan Veterinary Association President, Dr. Said Gul Safi, invited the AVMA to attend the convention, which attracted about 500 AVA members. Dr. Sabin reports that the AVA and the livestock industry in Afghanistan face many challenges, not the least of which is defining the role of the government in animal health care. Topics covered at the convention included food safety, recognition and sample collection of important infectious diseases, and treatment of common diseases.

Dr. Sabin’s visit to Afghanistan is just one example of the important role the AVMA plays in matters of global health. Dr. DeHaven’s recent participation in an international conference held in Austria Sept. 8-13 at the Salzburg Global Seminar also shows how critical veterinarians are in fighting the spread of new and re-emergent zoonotic diseases. The conference’s theme was, “The New Century, New Challenges, New Dilemmas: The Global Nexus of Animal and Public Health.” As Dr. DeHaven shared upon his return from the conference, “We are seeing new diseases or the re-emergence of diseases at a much faster rate than at any time in history. It’s a very small world. Local disease threats quickly become global threats. This issue is something everyone in the profession needs to be aware of. This is as much about social movement as it is about the science. We need to get people thinking in different ways to really make a global difference.”

We all know how essential our veterinary technicians are to our practices and in helping us foster healthy relationships with pet owners. That is why we are proud to recognize the accomplishments of veterinary technicians and the critical roles they play on the veterinary health-care team. Look in the Oct. 1 and Oct. 15 issues of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association for a special “thank you” to our vet techs from myself and the entire AVMA family. While National Veterinary Technician Week will be celebrated October 14 through October 20, we know that their accomplishments deserve celebration every day of the year.

Dr. DeHaven and I hope you enjoy AVMA@Work. We welcome your comments and suggestions, and we look forward to bringing you this exciting new service as part of your membership each month. We strongly encourage you to go to www.avma.org/atwork to sign up for future issues. You will receive one more issue of AVMA@Work next month. After that, only those who register for AVMA@Work will receive it.

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