The AVMA more than doubled the amount of staff time dedicated to animal welfare issues when it recently filled the first two positions in the AVMA Animal Welfare Division.
Dr. Lyle P. Vogel was named director of the division. He previously served as director of the AVMA Scientific Activities Division. Dr. Gail C. Golab was tapped as associate director. She most recently was assistant director for professional and public affairs in the AVMA Communications Division. Both staff members assumed their new roles May 1.
Dr. Elizabeth Curry-Galvin has stepped in as interim director of the Scientific Activities Division. She was previously an assistant director of the division.
The AVMA Executive Board established the Animal Welfare Division, which will monitor the science of animal well-being and assist the Association in proactively addressing developing issues of animal welfare.
"I am extremely pleased that Drs. Vogel and Golab have accepted the challenge to build this newly formed Animal Welfare Division from the ground up," said AVMA Executive Vice President Dr. Bruce W. Little. "Both are seasoned veterans of the AVMA institutional philosophy and should get a running start at implementing the necessary procedures and protocols to maximize the effectiveness of this very important division."
Dr. Vogel said one of his first tasks would be to fill the remaining three of the five positions approved by the board.
With Dr. Golab already involved as an associate director, Dr. Vogel said he plans to hire an administrative assistant and then evaluate how to make the most of the remaining two approved positions.
"The main challenge is to attract the most qualified people to those positions," Dr. Vogel said.
Developing an AVMA division is not new to Dr. Vogel. In 1996, he was appointed director of the Scientific Activities Division, which at the time was newly reorganized. Dr. Vogel designed position descriptions for that division and hired staff members for those roles.
"Getting a new division up and going is a difficult task requiring a lot of managerial skills to make things work well," said Dr. Bonnie V. Beaver, AVMA immediate past president, who focused on establishing an animal welfare division during her presidency. "Dr. Vogel brings knowledge of the AVMA and has proved his abilities to be an effective division director."
Dr. Vogel joined the AVMA staff in 1993 after serving in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps for 26 years as a food safety and public health specialist. He provides staff support to the Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine, Food Safety Advisory Committee, and Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee, and served on the Animal Welfare Governance Task Force. He has participated in several meetings of the World Health Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
Dr. Golab's role as associate director will complement Dr. Vogel's position, Dr. Beaver said. "Dr. Golab is well-recognized for her expertise in animal welfare and has recognition for this expertise among her peers in other related professions."
Dr. Golab has more than 20 years of experience dealing with animal welfare issues. She joined the AVMA in 1995 as a scientific editor in the Publications Division. After moving to the Education and Research Division as an assistant director in 1998, she joined the Communications Division in 2001. She is staff consultant to the Animal Welfare Committee, Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, and Committee on the Human/Animal Bond. She served on the Animal Welfare Governance Task Force and was staff consultant to the Task Force on the Housing of Pregnant Sows. In addition, she serves on a number of animal welfare-related national scientific advisory committees.
In her previous role, Dr. Golab split her time between animal welfare issues and a variety of other duties. She said her new position would allow her to concentrate more completely on animal welfare, and help provide the kind of support needed by the Association's volunteers and membership.
As associate director, Dr. Golab sees at least four important roles for the division, with which Dr. Vogel concurs: gathering information to help the AVMA make quality policy recommendations; educating veterinarians, policy makers, the public, and other stakeholders about the scientific and cultural aspects of animal welfare; assisting AVMA leadership in identifying and cultivating appropriate liaisons; and advancing knowledge in the field.
Animal welfare is an emotional issue for the veterinary profession. "The considerable diversity in our members' views of what constitutes good animal welfare presents both challenges and opportunities," Dr. Golab said. "Attempting to get everyone on the same page is going to be extremely difficult; however, diversity also has a way of bringing all the necessary information to the table."
"In the end, animal welfare decisions are really societal decisions," she said. "In my view, a major part of the Association's job is to make sure that veterinarians are positioned so that they can have a great deal of influence on those decisions."