From Rabies to Welfare

Dear Colleagues,

Fall is here, and that signals the return of AVMA councils and committees to headquarters to conduct the first of our semi-annual meetings. We look forward to seeing many of you at these important gatherings, for the members of the council, committee and task force entities are the ones who do the real work around here – proposing policies and initiatives that advance and support the mission of the Association. If you haven’t thought about volunteering, you should. We need your help, value your insights and treasure your contributions.

As you may or may not know, 100 children around the world die from rabies – every day. These numbers are totally unacceptable – because rabies is a preventable disease. Despite the good intentions and actions of people around the globe, however, we have yet to eradicate rabies, which kills more than 55,000 people each year. That is why, as World Rabies Day approaches, we are asking you to recommit yourself to educating your clients about rabies to help fight the disease here at home and around the world.

The AVMA is doing its part by joining several partners in observing World Rabies Day Sept. 28. Along with organizations such as the Alliance for Rabies Control, the World Veterinary Association and the World Organisation for Animal Health, just to name a few, we are reaching out to inform veterinarians and the public that rabies is still taking its toll on both animals and people. Both of us strongly urge you to go to the World Rabies Day or AVMA Web sites to see what you can do to help.

The disposal of unused veterinary pharmaceuticals is becoming an important issue, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to get a better idea as to how veterinarians are getting rid of theirs. According to the EPA, “For many years, a common practice at many health care facilities has been to dispose of unused pharmaceuticals by flushing them down the toilet or pouring them down the drain.”

The EPA is proposing to survey medical professionals around the country, including veterinarians, as part of a far-reaching study on how drugs are disposed of in numerous medical settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, hospices and veterinary facilities. The AVMA Scientific Activities Division became aware of the survey through one of their daily scans of the Federal Register, and we are working with the EPA to learn more about the survey and the possible implications for veterinary medicine down the road. We’ll keep you posted on any developments. In the meantime, you can go to the EPA Web site to get more information on the survey and the reasons behind it.

Animal welfare issues are driving a wedge in our society – and even in our profession. Such is the case with Proposition 2, a question on the November ballot in California dealing with how farm animals are housed. The AVMA recently issued a statement about Proposition 2 stating that the legislation, if approved by voters, may hurt the very animals that people are trying to help. We haven’t taken an official stance on Proposition 2, but we have concerns that it may indeed have negative impacts on animals, consumers and the industry if it’s passed. We ask you, our members, to educate yourself about Proposition 2 and to remember that animal welfare issues are far more complex than what the public can understand from a 30-second sound bite.

Even beyond Proposition 2, we ask you to explore the rest of the story before you make a decision on any animal welfare issue, because when you take a position, you need to understand all of the relevant factors in order to minimize the unintended consequences. Our challenge here at the AVMA is to continue to hear all those pertinent opinions before we take a position.

The nation has been holding its collective breath recently, as we have found ourselves smack in the middle of the eye of a very active hurricane season. The AVMA has been playing a central role in helping people communicate and organize during the storms as they look out for the interests of pets and animals, and we are monitoring weather patterns as tropical depressions continue to threaten to develop into full-fledged hurricanes. We recently created a Web page in response to Hurricane Gustav, we have increased our communication with states along hurricane paths, and we are heavily involved in national coordination efforts by sharing information with numerous organizations and governmental agencies.

All of this is especially pertinent this month, as September marks National Preparedness Month. This is a great time for you as veterinarians to remind your clients that disasters come in many forms – fire, flooding, tornados, hurricanes – and about the importance of having and practicing a disaster plan for their family and their pets. It’s also critical for you to develop and implement a disaster plan of your own, both for home and your practice. We can help. If you go to our Disaster Preparedness Web page, you’ll find tons of information and great resources designed to protect the whole family, including the family pets.

You Tube’s great for all things Internet-video, but what makes AVMAtv so cool is its accessibility and reliability as a wonderful source of credible veterinary information in video format. Launched on Sept. 3, AVMAtv is yet another example of how the AVMA is reaching out to veterinarians, aspiring veterinarians and the public to promote veterinary medicine, veterinary health and issues related to animal welfare.

You’ll find all kinds of topics on AVMAtv, from One Health to pet wellness and the challenges facing the veterinary workforce. Video is a great vehicle to inform people these days, and the potential to build our video library and reach people from coast to coast, and even around the globe, is huge. You can help in that endeavor. We’re looking for video clips that we can post on AVMAtv. We’ll consider all types of topics, from general pet health segments, veterinary school promotional clips, stories about “medical marvels,” and even things you’ve filmed in your practice capturing interesting cases or success stories. If you have ideas or questions, contact Dr. Kimberly May, assistant director of professional and public affairs in the Communications Division, at

Speaking of outreach, if you haven’t already, take a look at The Advocate, one of our newest initiatives designed to educate veterinarians and our supporters and enlist their help in advancing important issues on the federal level. The Advocate was developed by our Governmental Relations Division to keep our members and supporters up-to-date on what AVMA is doing on behalf of the veterinary profession in Washington, D.C., and to relay crucial and timely information when we need them to advocate on our behalf.

The name of the e-newsletter proves that we are not the only advocates when it comes to the veterinary profession. Everyone who receives the newsletter is an advocate for animal and human health. The Advocate provides lots of information and numerous links to additional resources. People who aren’t normally excited about politics or advocacy can easily see how these issues directly affect their lives. After all, legislation isn’t always just legal gobbledygook. It affects how you do your job, the money you make, the money you’re allowed to keep and the rules and regulations that say what you can and can’t do.

If you would like to receive The AVMA Advocate newsletter and join the Congressional Advocacy Network, e-mail


Cook signature DeHaven signature
James O. Cook, DVM
W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA
Executive Vice President

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