This morning, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation decided, reluctantly, to halt its America’s Favorite Veterinarian Contest following a vicious cyber-bullying attack which disrupted and contaminated the final election process.
Activists opposed to cat declawing “hijacked” the contest, resorting to cyber-bullying the majority of the contest finalists, those who believe that declawing cats remains a last-resort, but viable, alternative to separating pets from their owners when the animal’s behavior cannot be controlled any other way. One contestant, for example, was called “a whore, a butcher, a mutilator, a hack, an animal hater, a disgrace to the profession.” Other contestants were subjected to the circulation of fraudulent negative advertisements, negative reviews, and threatening phone calls.
Dr. Gary Richter, who was the activists’ candidate of choice, did not initiate or encourage the attacks on his colleagues, and contacted the groups that initiated the attacks to request that they immediately cease and desist. Read the press release for more information.
We know that people can become passionate about almost any subject that is near and dear to them, but we ask everyone reading this message to always remember that there is a person on the other end of that message; that they are as entitled to their opinions as you are, and their beliefs may be as strong as yours; and that they should be treated with respect despite disagreement. It is only through civil, constructive dialog – and respectful disagreement – that we make progress on important issues.
The AVMA has online reputation management resources to help veterinarians monitor and protect their online presence, including best practices, monitoring, and responding to attacks.