The AVMA House of Delegates (HOD) Winter Session was held on Saturday, January 10, in conjunction with the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference. The House took action on three proposed bylaws amendments and seven proposed resolutions.
Proposed Bylaws Amendment 1-2015 Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities was approved by a vote of 78% in favor. The new bylaw revises the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA; the accrediting body for veterinary technology programs) so that the CVTEA would no longer require AVMA Board of Directors approval for changes to the Accreditation Policies and Procedures. These revisions emulate best accreditation practices.
The next actions considered two competing proposed bylaws amendments. By “competing” I don’t mean they were introduced at the same time and were in opposition to each other; I mean that they addressed the same issue. If both were to pass the HOD, then whichever one was passed last would be the one in effect. If only one passed and the other failed, then obviously the one that passed would be in effect. Proposed Bylaws Amendment 2-2014 AVMA Mission Statement and Objectives was referred to the Board of Directors at the HOD Annual Session in July 2014. (For more information on the history of this proposed amendment, please read the background material provided in the statement about proposed Bylaws Amendment 2-2015.) Proposed Bylaws Amendment 2-2015 AVMA Mission similarly addresses ongoing efforts to revise the AVMA’s Mission Statement. According to the statement, the new mission addresses the results and findings of the ongoing Strategy Management Process and was developed by a core team composed of Board, HOD members and AVMA staff. BLA 2-2015 also reflected input from approximately 21,000 AVMA and SAVMA members.
A proposed amendment to BLA 2-2014 was made on the HOD floor, and added “animal agriculture” to the end of the Mission statement. This amendment was approved with 75.9% in favor. The HOD then voted on the amended BLA 2-2014; it did not pass because a 2/3 majority or greater vote in favor was required to pass it, and only 65.3% voted in favor.
The HOD then addressed BLA 2-2015. A proposed amendment was made on the HOD floor to change the wording of the AVMA Mission to be the following (amended text is underlined): “Consistent with the object of the Association, in addition to the purposes as set forth in the Association’s Articles of Incorporation, the mission of the Association is to lead the profession by advocating for its members and advancing the science and practice of veterinary medicine to improve animal and human health and disseminate knowledge of animal hygiene, biological science, and animal agriculture.” Those in support of the amendment felt that these were important, and often overlooked, areas that should be mentioned. Those opposing the amendment felt that if you called out some areas, the obvious omission of other areas would be problematic. The amendment failed, with a vote of 92.5% in opposition.
A second proposed amendment was made, changing the word “lead” to “represent.” Those in favor of the amendment felt it was a more accurate representation, but those in opposition felt that it was important to keep “lead” in the statement. This proposed amendment failed, with 86.6% voting in opposition.
Proposed BLA 2-2015 in its original, unamended form was then presented again to the HOD for a vote. It was passed with a vote of 86.9% in favor.
Resolution 8-2014 Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics had been carried over several times for revisions. An amendment was proposed by the reference committee to remove one sentence from Section VI, item c, subitem ii. The sentence read, “It is acceptable for the consulting veterinarian to communicate directly with clients when performed in collaboration with the attending veterinarians.” Supporters of the amendment were concerned that the statement could be used to bypass the Veterinarian-Client Patient Relationship (VCPR), particularly in the case of online consultation. The proposed amendment was passed with a 94.6% majority vote, and the amended Resolution 8-2014 was passed with 97.8% in favor.
Resolution 1-2015 Transportation of Research Animals, if passed, would establish AVMA policy supporting the humane transportation of animals for the purposes of biomedical research, testing and education. An amendment was proposed by the reference committee to add all “all” in front of “animals,” and remove one sentence, so the policy would read, as below (added text underlined, deleted text struckthrough):
Transportation of research animals refers to any movement of all animals intended for use in biomedical research, testing, and/or education from one facility (dedicated breeding or research) to another. Animal species typically used in research include, but are not limited to: fish, rats, mice, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, dogs, cats, swine, and nonhuman primates. This includes purpose-bred animals, legally obtained random-source animals, hoof stock, and genetically altered (e.g., transgenic and knock-out) animals. The AVMA supports the transportation of animals for research, testing and education when that transportation is conducted in accord with guidelines that assure animals are handled properly and transport is conducted humanely. Those handling research animals during transport must be well trained and competent in performing related tasks and making related decisions.
The amendment was passed with a unanimous vote, and the amended Resolution 1-2015 was then passed with 99.7% voting in favor.
Resolution 2-2015 Expand Weighted Voting in the HOD, if passed, would allow AVMA members to select any entity currently seated in the House of Delegates to represent them. Those in support of the resolution emphasized that they felt it was a concept and hoped it would pass, then giving them opportunity to better develop it and bring it back to the HOD. They felt that it could increase the democratic representation of members, and that the net gain or loss to organizations would be neutral. Those opposing felt that it could be a deterrent to state VMA membership, would force members to choose between loyalties. They felt that the real goal should be to better engage the disenfranchised members, not force them to pick an allegiance to one group/organization. The resolution was not passed, with a vote of 70.7% in opposition.
A proposed amendment was made by the reference committee to Resolution 3-2015 Revised Policy on Veterinary Participation in Spay-Neuter Clinics to add “..and comply with local and state laws” to the end of the policy. The amendment was passed with 97.6% voting in favor, and the amended resolution was passed with 95% voting in favor.
Resolution 4-2015 Revised Policy on Antimicrobial Use Guidelines would establish AVMA policy on antimicrobial use guidelines for companion animal practitioners. The reference committee proposed an amendment to add the following sentences as the second and third sentences of the policy: “Guidelines such as these should not be construed as directing an exclusive course of treatment or procedure. Variations in practice may be warranted based on factors unique to the patient, client or veterinary practice, in accordance with best clinical judgment.” They also proposed a name change to Antimicrobial Use Guidelines for Companion Animal Practice. The amendment was passed with 99.7% in favor, and the resolution passed with 95% in favor.
Resolution 5-2015 Policy on Antimicrobial Use Guidelines for Treatment of Urinary Tract Disease in Dogs and Cats, if passed, would establish AVMA policy endorsing the International Society for Companion Animal Infectious Diseases’ 2014 Antimicrobial Use Guidelines for Treatment of Urinary Tract Disease in Dogs and Cats. The reference committee proposed the same amending sentences to this resolution, and that was taken on general consent (passed unless objection) since it was the same amendment as previously passed. There was much discussion on this resolution, with those in favor expressing their view that the document was valuable and important, and AVMA should pass it and be at the forefront of judicious antimicrobial use in the profession. They also felt it was in line with the new Mission approved in BLA 2-2015. Those in opposition felt that it was too prescriptive and it was not AVMA’s place to have as a policy; they recommended that species-specific groups, such as the American Animal Hospital Association, were better suited for policies such as this. It was also mentioned that the document would incur additional expense for pet owners because it mandates culture and susceptibility testing, the charges for which would necessarily be passed on to the client. Another member asked if passing these organ system-specific guidelines would then require development and passage of many others to address other organ systems. In the end, the resolution was not passed, with 56.3% in opposition.
Resolution 6-2015 Policy on Antimicrobial Use Guidelines for Treatment of Superficial Pyoderma in Dogs and Cats, if passed, would establish AVMA policy endorsing the International Society for Companion Animal Infectious Diseases’ 2014 Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Antimicrobial Therapy of Canine Superficial Bacterial Folliculitis. The reference committee proposed an amendment to add the same sentences as added to Resolutions 4-2015 and 5-2015, and also to change “superficial pyoderma” to “canine superficial bacterial folliculitis.” The amendment was passed, with 83% voting in favor. The discussion of this amended proposed resolution was very similar to that for Resolution 5-2015, with a few new nuances: given the public health implications of MRSA, MSSA and others, one member expressed that this resolution should be approved because of its importance to One Health. Other members reiterated that they felt it was too prescriptive for AVMA; perhaps it should be “guidance” instead of “guidelines” to be less binding; and that they thought it was a good document but shouldn’t be AVMA policy. HOD members did indicate that they felt the documents were useful, valuable and important, and that if not passed as policy, efforts should be made to increase professional awareness of the documents. After the discussion, the resolution did not pass, with 62.5% voting in opposition.
The HOD then held elections for two council positions. Dr. Nathan Bott was elected to the Council on Veterinary Service, and Dr. Adam Langer was elected to the Judicial Council. Congratulations to both of you!
The documents will be updated on our website within the next few weeks. For more in-depth coverage of the HOD meeting and the Veterinary Leadership Conference, look for upcoming articles in JAVMA News.