AVMA Welfare Focus Newsletter - Directors Corner - November 2011

Gail C. Golab, PhD, DVM, MANZCVS
Director, Animal Welfare Division

Last quarter's feature article on the challenges encountered at the human-wildlife interface was fortuitous in light of the October 18 release of dozens of wild animals by the owner of an unregulated wildlife reserve in Ohio before that owner committed suicide. Forty-eight of those animals were killed by the sheriff's department amid concerns for public safety. The incident in Ohio, while tragic, is only one example of the risks posed every day by private ownership of wild animals across the United States. To help reduce those risks, the AVMA has established policy and has been working for years with legislators, regulators, private owners and advocacy groups to address concerns about the inappropriate acquisition and keeping of wild animals. Following the Ohio incident, the AVMA contacted the governors of Idaho, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Nevada, West Virginia, and Wisconsin (all of which have been identified as having lax regulations on the ownership of wild animals) urging stricter control and offering the expert assistance of its members in crafting effective regulations in the hopes of averting another tragedy. Fortunately, work to strengthen state controls on private ownership has already begun in Ohio. In addition, I'm pleased to tell you the Animal Welfare Committee is collaborating with the Committee on Environmental Issues and the Council on Veterinary Service to develop online resources for AVMA members on laws regarding treatment of captive wildlife, which can often put veterinarians in legal and ethical dilemmas-we'll let you know just as soon as those become available.

Speaking of online resources, a section of the AVMA website has been created by the Animal Welfare Division, with the assistance of the Committee on the Human-Animal Bond and the ASPCA, to improve practitioners' access to resources so that they can develop protocols and response plans for handling cases of suspected animal abuse. A work-in-progress, for its inauguration the AVMA has compiled basic information on abuse reporting requirements by state and provided it in an easy to access format. Over the next year, we'll be continuing to expand the information available. Top-of-mind is making it useful for AVMA members so please contact Dr. Emily Patterson-Kane with your ideas and suggestions.

With respect to ongoing projects...as mentioned in the last issue, the comment period on the draft of the 8th edition of the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia closed September 1. During the next several weeks, Panel on Euthanasia members reviewed and attempted to address your comments with revisions to the report and, on September 27, the AVMA Executive Board approved the content for the 8th edition. Copy editing of the document is underway and you can expect to see the final report published in the JAVMA in early 2012. One thing that changed in the 8th edition of the report was the reclassification of thoracic compression from being "acceptable with conditions" to "unacceptable." To provide more information about the technique and better explain why this change was made, we've prepared a backgrounder and posted it in the animal welfare section of the AVMA website. Backgrounders are an ongoing project of the Division and you'll find another recent release on the practice of soring.

As previously alluded, our Animal Welfare Committee continues to work hard on developing, refining, and recommending AVMA policy. In that regard, the Committee asked me to remind you that it wants your input. Policies currently being considered by the Committee are posted on the AVMA website for member comment in advance of its recommendations being forwarded to the Executive Board. Please visit this section of the website periodically to ensure your thoughts are considered and to see what happened with those policies on which you commented.

While work on policy and guidelines is an important function of the committees and task forces supported by the Animal Welfare Division, their members get plenty of other opportunities to promote animal welfare and positive human-animal relationships. One of those recent opportunities came in the form of a video on dog adoption starring the immediate past Chair of the Animal Welfare Committee, Dr. Julie Dinnage, and produced by our Communications Division. Videos and other social media allow the AVMA to quickly and effectively convey information to each other and to the public, so be sure to visit our social media sites (e.g., Facebook, AVMA-at-Work, Twitter) often to see what we've been up to and to weigh in on topics of importance to you.

Since this is our last issue for 2011, please accept my good wishes for a healthy and enjoyable holiday season. As always, if you have questions about what the AVMA is doing or suggestions about what it should be doing, please don't hesitate to contact us.


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