Shaping Animal Welfare Education

Whether it’s farm animals, pets, animals used in research or captive marine mammals, we’re all aware of increasing public interest in animal welfare. The role of the veterinarian in protecting animal health is well-recognized; unfortunately, the role of the veterinarian as a primary protector of animal welfare isn’t always as visible. To become more visible, veterinarians have to take an active role in the wider scientific and social discussions occurring about these issues.

Active participation requires a strong knowledge base, and animal welfare education is a critical tool in the veterinarian’s toolbox. That’s why the AVMA is leading a collaborative effort to develop a model curriculum for the study of animal welfare in veterinary medical education. We’re looking to you to help us. We’re seeking nominations and expressions of interest for membership in the AVMA Animal Welfare Curriculum Planning Group, which will create the plan to guide this process. We’re looking for six to 10 subject experts with proven track records in the delivery of animal welfare-related education.

If you’re interested in playing a key role in this exciting process, let us know. We’ll be accepting nominations through July 15.

One thought on “Shaping Animal Welfare Education

  1. There is a great deal of discussion about the benefits of added diversity within our profession, as well as about the changed meaning of animal welfare in today’s America. What there is not a lot of talk about, indeed what is ignored in both of these discussions, is the diversity of American society and its needs relative to animal welfare within our country, by state, region, community. When it comes to animal welfare there seems to be an inexorable march to impose an urban, academic, northeastern and cosmopolitan paradigm of animal welfare on the lives of people who exist in very, very different cultural circumstances. We pursue that course to our detriment.

    We in the AVMA, definitionally a “big tent” organization, need to look well beyond a diversity defined by our member’s skin color, gender and ethnicity and towards the diversity of our wider publics, clients, myriad American subcultures and the encompassed diversity of appropriate animal welfare within those subcultures.

    We should not move further towards seeing ourselves as an “animal first” organization. We are a society first organization. The veterinarian’s oath says exactly that, indeed “for the benefit of society” is in the first sentence of that oath. That societal responsibility must balance all constituents and their human needs, first. The urban, animal liberationist, “companion-animal-biased” model of animal welfare is not, and should not be, the sole prism through which we judge our duty to animals and to society. While many narrowly focused members may wish it to be otherwise, our responsibility is so much more. The veterinarians oath should be our guide.

    Arnold L. Goldman