America’s Favorite Veterinarian contest canceled due to cyberbullying of contestants

This morning, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation decided, reluctantly, to halt its America’s Favorite Veterinarian Contest following a vicious cyber-bullying attack which disrupted and contaminated the final election process.

Activists opposed to cat declawing “hijacked” the contest, resorting to cyber-bullying the majority of the contest finalists, those who believe that declawing cats remains a last-resort, but viable, alternative to separating pets from their owners when the animal’s behavior cannot be controlled any other way.  One contestant, for example, was called “a whore, a butcher, a mutilator, a hack, an animal hater, a disgrace to the profession.”  Other contestants were subjected to the circulation of fraudulent negative advertisements, negative reviews, and threatening phone calls.

Dr. Gary Richter, who was the activists’ candidate of choice, did not initiate or encourage the attacks on his colleagues, and contacted the groups that initiated the attacks to request that they immediately cease and desist. Read the press release for more information.

We know that people can become passionate about almost any subject that is near and dear to them, but we ask everyone reading this message to always remember that there is a person on the other end of that message; that they are as entitled to their opinions as you are, and their beliefs may be as strong as yours; and that they should be treated with respect despite disagreement. It is only through civil, constructive dialog – and respectful disagreement – that we make progress on important issues.

The AVMA has online reputation management resources to help veterinarians monitor and protect their online presence, including best practices, monitoring, and responding to attacks.

26 thoughts on “America’s Favorite Veterinarian contest canceled due to cyberbullying of contestants

  1. Funny when the truth is called bullying and the crippling of cats is defended.. The only bullying I saw (and I took a screenshot) was Dr Tina Roggenbeck posting a hit list of her competitors with their names crossed out.
    I have yet to see even one “journalist” post any newsworthy article about this.
    Truthfully its the ones bullying cats that are spreading disinformation with their friends scribblings and not one true article about the physical and psychological damage these vets do every time the amputate healthy toes for profit.

  2. I’m afraid that events such as this will no longer be possible. The very tiny minority of fanatics on just about any animal issue have harassed so many people and attempted to destroy so many businesses that work with animals, that the only answer, it seems, is to just stop giving them an audience. Stop giving them a stage. They already have more than enough opportunities to make their agendas clear. Cancel this contest, don’t do it again, that’s the only way to protect your members’ businesses and personal lives from these incredibly stupid and angry bullies.

    If you want inspiration, look to the Famous Horse Drawn Carriages of Central Park – the coalition of animal rights groups have been harassing the drivers for 20 years, without getting anywhere. So, they upped their game, bought a mayor, made an international splash with their misguided campaign, only to have it backfire. Only 68 small businesses should have been an easy target, ready, aim, shoot and go on to the rest of animal enterprise. But it didn’t turn out that way. I wish the AVMA luck, I appreciate the move to honor the nominees in this contest – they all obviously have been giving superior, loving and compassionate service to their clients. It doesn’t matter which one “wins” now, does it. They are all super! Honor them. And take away the soapbox and the band wagon for the bullies and the zealots.

    • I was struck recently by a quotation at the end of an AVMA Smart Brief, and it is applicable here:

      “Being tolerant does not mean that I share another one’s belief. But is does mean that I acknowledge another one’s right to believe and obey, his own conscience.” Viktor Frankl, neurologist and psychiatriest

  3. Very bad to read this. Why would they cyberbully these people so bad the contest doesnt even continue. I do understand people dont like it when they see cats being declawed. Ofcourse these things will be made illegal in the future. Owners of cats should understand that a cat cant make this choice for himself. Other than that, the contestants shouldnt be victim of the bullying, these protestors should protest against the lawmakers.

    • People lie, politicians lie, corporations lie. But no one here questions the motives of the AVMA. They are beyond reproach? If they make a statement, that anti-claw “terrorists” halted the contest, everybody buys it? C’mon! While I saw 1 person on social media use the the “w” word in the context of selling out not sexually, I found most people opposed to declawing are being very civil and simply supporting their candidate. The only one on the list that does not declaw. Considering how rude many social media comments are, I found this issue to show quite a lot of restraint, because the vast majority of anti-declaw activists have the ban as a goal and not to insult vets. As for freedom of choice ? It’s the same argument the NRA makes when it comes to gun laws. I grew up in Australia and now in Canada and am glad both countries restrict my and everyone’s choice to carry a weapon. Pity that Canada & US still hasn’t followed the E.U., Australia, Japan and many more countries in outlawing this horrible practice. Declawed cats get abandoned at the same rate as others. Their behaviours change, they bite more, often stop using the litter box (because it hurts) and end up on the street unable to defend themselves. Please watch to learn the full extent of what “declawing” really is.

      • Very well said Mike. And I agree that there was an incredible amount of restraint when folks against declawing were accused of cyber bullying, being a terrorist, Nazi, and other names when all they did was show their support by voting.

  4. Who enjoys declawing cats? raise your hand if you do. No one!

    Unfortunately, in many places in the country, cats are treated as second class pets. One false move and they are kicked out to be eaten by coyotes, roaming dogs, bobcats, etc.

    Many people simply will not keep a cat in their home if it is destroying their furniture. Many people will not take the time and put in the effort to train cats (as if that is always possible) to use a scratching post instead.

    So, what happens. That cat is thrown out and in my area, that means fairly certain death.

    what is worse, a declawed cat that is treated appropriately with proper analgesics in a good home or a dead cat with all of its claws?

    • This is so true! There are certain people who think that vets who declaw cats are unethical, but imagine the position veterinarians are put in! We can educate people all we want, advocate for behavioral intervention, suggest soft-paws, etc, but at the end of the day, there are some people who will either declaw their cat or get rid of it.
      I can think of a few times when I saw no other alternative to declawing. One time, an elderly immuno-compromised woman will frail skin wanted her older cat declawed because the cat’s claws were ripping her skin open and exposing her to infection which might have killed her. The only alternative was surrendering the old cat to a shelter, where it most likely would have been put down. What is a vet supposed to do in this situation? Are the objectors to declawing really in support of a cat being euthanized over being declawed?

      • oh who cares about an o;d ladies cat? or even more important who cares about an old lady? certainly not those animal right crazies.. thanks for showing that there are many sides to every story and that these decisions have to be made case by case.

      • Why does it have to be declawing vs. shelter/euthanasia? Surgery rarely is going to solve a behavioral issue. And we have to accept that in some cases it’s best to rehome a cat for all involved. If a person is so quick to declaw they will probably be even quicker to abandon it for complications post declawing or behavioral issues like indiscriminate peeing due to pain. (Greg you didn’t account for the long term pain a cat can have from nerve damage, phantom pain, and arthritis.)
        Billie, the medical industry does not recommend declawing a cat for human health reasons (and neither does the AAHA – see their recently updated declawing standards). Of note a declawed cat may be more likely to bite which is far more serious than a scratch.
        Aside, I have to wonder why the elderly woman’s cat’s claws were “ripping her skin open.” Some cats don’t like to be handled. My suggestion? Don’t do it unless absolutely necessary. Respect your cat and personality type. I’ve read people say they got their cat declawed because it makes it easier to dress them up in clothes. Go freedom!

        • Lyn,

          I agree with much of what you say. In a perfect world, there would be plenty of homes, with loving people who understand feline behavior, for each and every cat in need. There would also be additional homes willing to take cats who are prone to destroy furniture, blinds, etc.

          Unfortunately, in my area, this is not the case. Not even close. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a shelter or rescue organization to even take a perfectly healthy, fully vetted, emotionally healthy cat for adoption because they are beyond full capacity.

          So, in my area, if a cat is tearing up furniture, injuring children, injuring elderly family members, regardless of cause, they will likely either be put outside to fend for themselves, be dropped off in the woods, declawed, or shot by the owners.

          What would you have me do in those cases?

          • Liz, Mike, James,

            Help me out. What would you have me do in the cases that I have described, when there are no reasonable alternatives?

            It is great to say that declawing is torture and barbaric, but unless you have a plan that I haven’t seen or heard of yet, you haven’t given any alternatives that people in my area will take.

  5. I am glad I now practice in Australia where declawing cats, docking dogs tails and cropping dogs ears are all illegal. It is about time that the USA joins the rest of the civilised world. It is also time for the activists to be civil in their comments and appreciate what the veterinary profession does for all the species we share this planet with. If change is wanted a constructive diaglog is needed not the abusive comments posted in this discussion.

    • Thank you for all you wrote. How would people like to be “declawed” and such to me these are people who should not ever allowed the honor of having an animal as a part of their family if they are not treated the way they do not wish to be treated. Thank You again. Peace be yours Trevina Fairegate

    • Civil…that’s what it’s called to say non vegans don’t have a right to live? That, too, was put forth by Australia resident.

  6. I am glad I now practice in Australia where declawing cats, docking dogs tails and ear cropping are illegal procedures.
    It is about time the USA joins the rest of the civilised world. It is also time for the activists to appreciate what the veterinary profession does for the other species we share this plant with and control their language and abuse. Destructive activities and abusive language are not constructive. If there is to be change a civilised dialogue is needed.

    • I am glad you are not in the USA We are all about choice here. Not about government control. We are all about doctors having choices to make when treating their clients pets and securing it with them. The USA is civilized because we give people a choice.. meanwhile this has to do with cyber bullying and I would not doubt for a minute that some of it came from AU. Don’t you have enough to deal with with your own fanatics? What happen if a vet does a procedure .. jail time? now that makes no sense at all.

  7. I find it disgraceful that a woman’s sexuality always comes under attack, no matter what the issue is. What does being a “whore” have to do with declawing? Calling a vet who declaws a “butcher” or “mutilator” is harsh, but at least it is on point with the topic of declawing. But to shame a woman in this way is a pathetic ad hominem attack and those who did so should be ashamed.

  8. I did not partake in these attacks on the vet who believes in declawing but I do support their agenda & ideals. Declawing is inhumane and leaves most animals horribly deformed and in severe pain. There is a reason why so many Vets and governments have come out against declawing. Its torture.

    • An article about activists high jacking something for their cause and here you go hijacking this article with the same nonsense. There’s a time and a place to discuss your favorite issues and this isn’t it.

      • Hijacking? Bob, respectfully – elections are decided by platform all the time in case you haven’t noticed. Or at least they should be. And I’d argue that indeed it’s a good time to discuss it and not nonsense.

  9. I am the person who nominated Dr. Monica Rudiger for this contest. I find this horrid that people have to become vicious to get their point across. Why couldn’t they just speak with their vote? I am so angry. As a volunteer at Nine Lives I don’t personally believe in declawing and we will not adopt out to anyone who says they will declaw their cat but we do rescue declawed cats. We try to educate people about declawing and The Paw Project. Even though our Dr was no longer in the Top 10 we still voted every day for her. I thank you for you contest and I’m so sorry it ended this way.

    • Hi Margo, there’s been a lot of talk about viciousness but my understanding heated comments came from both sides after anti-declawing supporters started voting and showing strength in large numbers. The fact is that the contest WAS being decided by the popular vote, in a landslide, but a platform the AVMA is adamantly opposed to. The number of votes skyrocketed very very fast after endorsement by popular FB personalities The Paw Project, City the Kitty, Jackson Galaxy (and many others) that the AVMA was in disbelief. The votes were confirmed as being legit, but the contest was shut down anyway. If the voting hadn’t gone like this, IMO the contest wouldn’t have been shut down.

  10. Wow, how sad that something that should have been a fun and nice contest was destroyed by people who appear to have abandoned common decency. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion but you don’t have to give it to me. So I will just end by saying that there are many wondeful veterinarians out there and I am thankful to mine for treating my dog well, being kind and informative to me, not over charging for things, and being knowledgeable about time tested and new treatments so I can feel assurred and confident in his abilities.

    • Well said. The decision to honor all the finalists is a good one. In fact, if there is any contest like this in the future (I think the time is past for these events, due to cyber attacks and domestic terror risks), there needs to be some changes. How about an essay contest for animal owners, similar to the nationwide “Best Teacher” events? That would weed out a lot of nut cases and animal fanatics, and provide a meaningful event that would be a smaller target for the nasty and hateful segment of animal rights.