In mid-October, AVMA began receiving scattered reports that pollster Zogby International was contacting AVMA members and asking them to participate in an opinion poll on animal welfare issues. Several members contacted AVMA to express concern after the questions they were asked regarding certain husbandry practices and medical procedures seemed designed to elicit specific responses rather than to seek objective measures of veterinary attitudes.
The AVMA contacted Zogby International for information and, although Zogby would not divulge the identity of its client, their representative did identify the 2004 AVMA Membership Directory & Resource Manual as the source of names and phone numbers the company was using. The Zogby representative indicated that the client had provided the directory, and had told the company it was free to use it to contact AVMA members.
To protect the privacy of its members, AVMA policy prohibits the sale or sharing of member phone numbers or e-mail addresses outside the Association. To ensure the privacy of AVMA members who choose to be listed in the AVMA Directory, all directory recipients agree to a short, clearly written agreement shrink-wrapped in the print and electronic versions.
The agreement states that the AVMA Directory may be used "for individual, personal and confidential reference purposes only." The agreement also states that the directory and its contents "are proprietary products of the AVMA. The contents of this Membership Directory may not in whole or in part be reproduced, copied, disseminated, entered into a computer database, used as part of or in connection with a mailing list, or otherwise utilized, in any form or manner, or by any means, except for the user's individual, personal or confidential reference."
A letter sent on Oct. 21 informed Zogby International that its use of the directory violated the agreement between AVMA and the directory's original owner. The company was asked to return the directory to the AVMA and to destroy all remaining print or electronic copies of the directory's contents that it may have in its possession. At press time, Zogby International had not yet responded to the AVMA's letter.