Times of Progress

This has been a very busy month indeed. At every meeting I attend, I give a summary of the progress we have made on the many AVMA initiatives related to our five Strategic Goals, which focus on strengthening veterinary economics, catalyzing the transformation of veterinary education, promoting animal welfare, advancing scientific research and discovery, and enhancing governance and member participation.

At our last AVMA Executive Board meeting in April, we approved the development, promotion and launch of the Animal Health Network in support of the goal of advancing scientific research and discovery. The Animal Health Network is the new name for the Institute for Companion Animal and Equine Research, which the Executive Board approved in concept back in 2007. The Executive Board reaffirmed its commitment to the effort last year, when it voted to encourage the American Veterinary Medical Foundation to develop an action and business plan for the initiative. The AVMF, with support of the AVMA Council on Research, has expended its own resources to help start the Cat Health Network, the species-specific pilot component of the Animal Health Network, and now resources must be invested into the overarching parent entity. This network has great potential to develop new knowledge and improve animal health care for many species.

Under our goal of catalyzing the transformation of veterinary education, we have met with the deans of our veterinary schools twice already – in January and March – to discuss common issues facing the profession. After identifying 17 areas of potential collaboration, we are currently concentrating on three critically important issues:

  • Gathering accurate workforce data on the current and future demand for veterinary medical services on which to base our strategy.
  • Immediately putting into action plans to help students manage their educational debt, and
  • Starting to plan how veterinary schools might better prepare graduates for a more productive first year of employment. This includes incorporating more preventive care experience through use of the Partnership for Preventive Pet Healthcare Guidelines in their community practices.

Our goal is to achieve our vision that “Veterinary medicine is a personally and financially rewarding profession.”

Animal welfare continues to be a key issue for veterinary medicine and the AVMA, especially as it relates to food-animal welfare. AVMA leadership recently met with the leadership of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians to discuss issues of importance to food-animal agriculture and production. This has been a timely topic of late due to the AVMA’s support of H.R. 3798, the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments bill for layer hens. It has led to further discussions on how we can better serve our AVMA members who are food-animal veterinarians, who work so hard to assure an abundant, affordable and humanely produced food supply for this country through food sources from this country, not elsewhere. How can we best serve these members and the animals they care for, and assure food security?

The Task Force on AVMA Governance and Member Participation and the Task Force on Foreign Veterinary School Accreditation both had very productive meetings last month, and we will keep you posted as their work continues. Other issues of interest include not-for-profit, full-service veterinary clinics, working to stop the practice of horse soring, the judicious use of antimicrobials and infringement on our veterinary practice acts by non-veterinarians. What is keeping you busy? We certainly welcome your comments.

In closing, be sure we have your updated email address and watch the AVMA blogs log for regular updates, especially during our website renewal project. The new website is scheduled to launch during the AVMA’s Annual Convention in August in San Diego. That will be exciting! Thank you for being AVMA members!

2 thoughts on “Times of Progress

  1. Dr. Barnes,
    I appreciate your response; however, your comments did prompt me to reread the paragraph in my May monthly column to see if I could understand what prompted your particular passionate response. Even as I read that paragraph again, I still believe my intent was clear to confirm the AVMA’s support for the importance of improving our food production systems while improving animal welfare in the process. I assure you, neither I nor the AVMA leadership is naïve to the concerns you suggest.

    In fact, we are quite concerned about the decisions being made by major corporations in the food chain industries which are being driven more by heavy pressure agendas from animal rights groups than from the general consumer, and without the input and knowledge needed from producers and veterinarians. We have the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food supply in the world. That is no accident and it is taken much for granted by many who are distanced from animal agriculture or who have a strong specific agenda against animal agriculture. In addition, that food supply is produced with much concern for the animals’ health and welfare compared to many other systems around the world. Healthy animals (in every aspect) make healthy food products and veterinarians are deeply involved in making sure those animals are healthy. Many people in America take this safe, abundant, affordable and more humanely produced food supply for granted.

    We also have a responsibility to feed our own 311 million citizens and to produce enough food to feed the world with its current and rapidly growing population from 7 to 9 billion people. Animal protein is a part of winning the fight against hunger around the world. That is hard for many well fed Americans to understand even though even in this country supposedly one in six people may be hungry. Our concern over recent corporate decisions on sources of their meat supplies and the important but underappreciated roles of veterinarians in food safety and security has prompted the AVMA leadership to include this subject in one of our upcoming strategic discussions.

  2. If the vets constantly give in to the radical animal rights groups there will be no more profession. The goal of the animal rights groups HSUS, PeTA, ASPCA and the ALF is to end all use of animals as food, companions and for any purpose. IF you think that you can compromise with these radicals you are sadly mistaken. By not supporting the farmers, pet breeders and exotic animal breeders you are going to protect your profession right into extinction. Think not? Then know that the profession in the UK and Australia has gone down hill fast. Next every procedure you perform will be called abuse. You must get behind the farmers and explain the use of gestation crates instead of ignoring it or pretending they are not necessary. You are also at risk with your own clients by telling them all shelter dogs are worth saving when we know that 47% will be returned to the shelter for biting or behaviors that make them impossible to live with. Letting communities ban pet shops when 12 million people each year are looking for a pet means you are driving the living conditions of all breeders into the underground black market just as they did in the prohibition days. Its time to stand up for the people that pay you your living wage and allow you to practice your business.

    HSUS, PeTA, ASPCA and the ALF are all one in the same run by the same people. Now you have allowed the most radical to be hired for the regulatory arm of the USDA. What does she do but attack the best rabbit breeder in the state and what does her vet do? Hide under the table. Who will want to join this cowardly organization that does not stand up against this radical idea that there should be no more pets, or meat animals or zoos, or rodeos, or circuses, or any domestic animal at all. If you don’t know about this movement then you are really ignorant and if you think you can work with them or that you are protected from their assaults then know that they have already started on vets for abuse. Do you have stacked cages for your patients, do you give shots, do you ever do anything without anesthetic, do you participate in research on animals? If so you are already a target.

    The concept of saving lives by being vegan, or preventing animals from being born because they might suffer, negates the biological role of humans and animals in this world. In fact being vegan kills more animals than raising animals for food. Clears more rain forrest and uses more fossil fuels moving and raising the soy plant for tofu and substitute milk than any natural animal food product. Studies show that harvesting vegetables or wheat kills thousands more animals than does the killing of animals direct for food. In fact the eco system is sustained and grows in the pasture whereas in the plant tilling is killed off every year. The problem with vegan philosophy is that it is being promoted as a moral imperative rather than a choice. But if being born makes you subject to suffering then we might as well start with the human species and in fact the leader of the animal rights movement recently advocated that all human beings have themselves spayed or neutered and then our children could party down guilt free until the last human being dies out. The title of P. Singer’s article in the New York Times is “Should this be the last generation?” This philosophy is a danger to the world and to all human beings and animals. It is but another cult in the guise of a philosophy.

    The AVMA had better start publicly supporting their base instead of running like cowards away from this cult otherwise there will be no more profession as there will be no more animals to take care of for you to make your living.