Executive Board member Dr. James O. Cook announced his candidacy for 2007-2008 AVMA president-elect at the Candidates' Introductory Breakfast July 14 in Hawaii. The Kentucky VMA nominated Dr. Cook to the office.
Dr. Cook has represented Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia on the board since 2001. He will spend the final year of his term, which expires next July, as board chair.
In his speech, Dr. Cook identified animal welfare, economics, and education as among the key challenges facing the AVMA. The December 2007 retirement of Dr. Bruce W. Little after a decade as the Association's executive vice president is, however, one of the greatest challenges, according to Dr. Cook.
Whoever is chosen to replace Dr. Little will be responsible for providing strategic leadership for the Association and helping to establish and carry out long-range goals, plans, and policies designed to maximize the effectiveness of the AVMA, staff, and members, he said.
A search committee has already been established to ensure a smooth transition, Dr. Cook added.
Given society's growing focus on animal welfare, the AVMA will need to expand the number of staff dedicated to such a controversial issue. "We are putting our best foot forward by having Drs. Lyle Vogel and Gail Golab head up the new Animal Welfare Division," Dr. Cook observed.
"Not only will we need more staff in the Animal Welfare Division, we will need more people in all divisions to bring the ratio of staff to AVMA members more in line with other national organizations," he said.
Dr. Cook believes the AVMA should discover and implement ways of gathering and distributing information to members. "Our newly expanded Communications Division has already shown much progress in this area," he said. "We need to continually establish communication crisis plans with staff and equipment to respond in a timely manner."
In addition, the Lebanon, Ky., practitioner would like to see the AVMA study the corporate structure of veterinary medicine. Venture capitalists are interested in purchasing veterinary practices, Dr. Cook explained, and it has been projected that 40 percent of future veterinary businesses will be handled by a handful of corporations.
"The membership needs of AVMA members working in these corporations could change dramatically," Dr. Cook noted.
Other signs of the times are the growing numbers of women practicing veterinary medicine and animal rights classes being offered by U.S. law schools, Dr. Cook said. "Because of the rapidly changing issues in the profession and the increasing needs of each AVMA member, we all need to find better ways to serve," he said.
Shortly after earning a DVM degree from Auburn University in 1976, Dr. Cook started a mixed practice in Lebanon, Ky., that he owns today. He was Kentucky Veterinarian of the Year in 1988 and president of the Kentucky VMA in 1993. Dr. Cook was Kentucky's delegate in the AVMA House of Delegates in 1996 until his election to the AVMA Executive Board in 2001. While on the board, Dr. Cook has served in a variety of roles, including vice chair of the board and chair of the Legal Status of Animals and Legal Remedies task forces.