We get it from both sides here at the AVMA. When it comes to animal welfare-related issues, there are some who think we don’t do enough, and there are probably just as many who say we shouldn’t be sticking our noses in their business.
Lest anyone be confused, no one is more concerned about the welfare of all animals than veterinarians. It is part of the Veterinarian’s Oath. It’s a big reason why people are interested in a career in veterinary medicine in the first place. Heck, it’s safe to say that – for many – a commitment to the care and well-being of animals is in their DNA.
The unwanted horse and the issue of horse slaughter are topics that generate a lot of interest. People on both sides of the slaughter issue present passionate arguments to support their case. Putting aside some of the emotion and taking an up-close look at the topic, Dr. Nat Messer, a specialist in equine practice and a member of the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Committee, lays out the issue in clearly understandable language in an essay he contributes to the latest issue of AVMA Welfare Focus, one of the AVMA’s many newsletters.
Welfare Focus is just one of many AVMA resources that deal with animal welfare. I strongly urge everyone who reads this blog with an interest in animal welfare to take advantage of this library of insight and experience. We rely on science to form our animal-welfare policies, positions and statements. But we also recognize, particularly as society has started to take a greater interest in animal welfare, that societal values and public opinion also matter. Animal welfare isn’t always black-and-white, cut-and-dry, one-size-fits-all. And that’s one reason why I find the subject so fascinating.
As a member of the AVMA Communications Division, I take a lot of calls from the media and members of the public with an interest in animal welfare. They come at me from all angles. “What’s your stance on sow housing and gestation crates?” “What’s the big deal about declawing cats?” “How can the AVMA not oppose horse slaughter?”
All of these questions are good ones, especially since they all eventually lead to more discussion about animals and their welfare. These conversations are healthy for society, the veterinary profession and the animals.
Whatever your motivation – whatever side you’re on – we invite your questions about animal welfare. It’s an important topic, and I think we can all agree on that.