Legislative Awareness: A Battle Worth Fighting

I enjoy reading the AVMA@Work blog posts, and take a special interest in the posts made by my Future Leaders colleagues. On March 11, Dr. Libby Todd wrote about legislative awareness as it pertained to Alabama. It amazed me that although over 1,000 miles apart, the need for legislative awareness and action in Connecticut is very similar to that in Alabama.

In October 2011, Public Act 11-187 went into effect in Connecticut. The law, championed by the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association, regulates the importation of animals into the state. The law requires groups that import animals into the state to register with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. The law also requires any animal imported into the state to be examined by a Connecticut licensed veterinarian within 48 hours of arriving in the state and prior to transfer to a new owner. Another stipulation is that, until transferred, the animal be examined every 90 days by a veterinarian and within 15 days of transfer to a new owner.

Public Act 11-187 offers many benefits. It helps protect the existing animal population within Connecticut by detecting infectious diseases before an animal has a chance to comingle with other animals within the state. It protects public health by helping to screen for zoonotic diseases. It protects the individual imported animal and the owners that adopt them by ensuring the animal has a thorough examination before entering its new home.

Although in place for only five months, this law has been under attack during the current legislative session in Connecticut. As our colleagues in Alabama did, members of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association board of directors took action. Members testified before the Connecticut General Assembly Environment Committee. Follow-up meetings were made with state legislators. Board members emailed and called legislators.

In using the word “battle”, Libby chose the correct word to describe what the state veterinary associations do to serve the best interests of our membership. In fighting this battle, I have learned much about the legislative process. It is one of the most important tasks of organized veterinary medicine. I consider it a privilege to fight for veterinary medicine and am glad there are many veterinarians across the country doing the same.

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