On Jan. 14, the Humane Society of the United States and Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights announced the formation of a new veterinary advocacy organization, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, as part of a "corporate combination agreement" between the two groups.
Although the boards of directors of each organization had approved the initiative, the agreement was not yet official at press time in mid-January but was expected to take effect Feb. 1.
AVMA Executive Vice President Ron DeHaven responded to the news, saying, "The more than 76,000 AVMA members belong to many diverse associations. AVMA members and leaders are veterinarians who have dedicated their lives to improving the health and welfare of animals.
"The HSUS has often expressed frustration with several AVMA animal welfare positions or areas of welfare in which the AVMA does not yet have a policy. We understand that the HSUS wants a simple solution. We wish there were a simple solution as well. These areas are extremely complex and when you opt for a quick fix in one area it can create a crisis in another."
Part of the AVMA's response to the new association is to continue to formulate sound, caring animal welfare policies that take veterinarians' responsibility to public and animal health into consideration.
Dr. DeHaven explained that the new organization's singular focus is animal welfare whereas the AVMA deals with a multitude of issues including the humane treatment of animals as well as public health and food safety. The AVMA's evaluation of animal welfare issues includes looking at the entire system of animal care, not just one or two pieces of it.
"While we value our independence in decision making, we also recognize that stakeholder input and involvement are critical to the identification and implementation of effective solutions to animal welfare problems," Dr. DeHaven said. "In that regard, the AVMA regularly communicates with a broad range of stakeholders, including individuals and organizations associated with the animal protection community, the animal industries, and governmental agencies."
Members of the new association would not be precluded from membership in the AVMA, Dr. DeHaven added. In fact, a number of AVMA members are also members of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, which, while not a constituent allied veterinary organization, regularly presents resolutions before the AVMA House of Delegates.
More about the AVMA's response can be read at the AVMA Web site (www.avma.org), where a Frequently Asked Questions document has been posted.