Fort Dodge Animal Health, Hill's Pet Nutrition, and Merial have together pledged a total of $4.5 million in support of AVMA programs and services over the next four years.
The unprecedented commitments are part of the Association's new Platinum Partner Program, or P3, to be unveiled July 19 during the 145th AVMA Annual Convention in New Orleans. The partnership is intended to provide members with new and improved initiatives and opportunities to enhance membership benefits.
"We are delighted that our P3 associates recognize the value of partnering with the AVMA," said Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA executive vice president and chief executive officer. "Because of their support, we are able to provide top-notch continuing education, enhance our overall convention experience, and promote the goals of the Association. We truly appreciate their ongoing investment in the future of our profession."
Each P3 participant has made a $380,000 annual commitment to the AVMA for four years for a total of $1.5 million. In return, each company receives a broad range of benefits from the Association.
Participants will have opportunities to interact with AVMA members, leaders, and staff; be recognized as "elite partners" with the AVMA through promotional efforts in the JAVMA, on the AVMA Web site, and at the Association's annual convention; and receive space in the JAVMA for advertising and for spotlight advertorials highlighting the companies' contributions to veterinary medicine.
"We are extremely excited about the launch of the AVMA Platinum Partner Program," explained David Little, director of the AVMA Convention and Meeting Planning Division. "We wanted to build a platform to recognize companies within the veterinary industry willing to partner with the AVMA, across a broad spectrum of opportunities, to benefit our members. We believe P3 achieves that goal, for both the AVMA and our P3 partners."
Craig Wallace, vice president of U.S. sales for Fort Dodge Animal Health, said P3 is an opportunity for the Overland Park, Kan.-based division of Wyeth to demonstrate its support for the AVMA as well as the veterinary profession.
"We feel very strongly it's important to 'live in the industry,'" Wallace explained, "meaning, as an organization, we must continue to be involved in the veterinary community as a way to give back. And we feel participating at a high sponsorship level in the AVMA helps us accomplish that objective."
One of the benefits of being a P3 member will be increased visibility within the veterinary profession for Fort Dodge, according to Wallace. The company wants to highlight key products and its support for National Pet Wellness Month and other educational campaigns.
Dr. Mary Beth Leininger, director of professional affairs for Hill's Pet Nutrition, described the company's P3 commitment as a continued demonstration of its support for the veterinary community. "We're contributing at the P3 level because we believe underwriting programs and CE at the AVMA convention will help our practitioner partners provide the best care to their patients," Dr. Leininger said.
"Of course I have a particular love for our Association," added the former AVMA president.
Hill's, located in Topeka, Kan., wants to use the new partnership with AVMA to educate practitioners about the impact of nutrition on health and disease management. One example is the daylong symposium on Sunday at the convention that will focus on the new field of nutrigenomics—the study of how active nutrients can influence gene expression.
In addition, Hill's is launching a new national conference booth in the convention exhibit hall with a special learning focus. The focus will be on the problem of obesity in America's pets and ways veterinarians can help resolve it, Dr. Leininger said.
Dr. Howell Little, director of field veterinary services for Merial, described the company's stepped-up support of AVMA programs and services as a long-term investment in veterinary medicine. "It's a very worthy and good investment that we know pays dividends in the future," Dr. Little said.
Based in Duluth, Ga., Merial takes pride in its relationship with veterinarians because the company sells its products exclusively to veterinarians and depends on them to educate clients about their benefits, Dr. Little explained. "We know that if veterinarians are successful, then Merial as a company will be successful," he added.
"Merial hopes to channel our investment to programs and services that help recognize and reinforce the value of veterinarians to society," Dr. Little continued. "We want to help promote the veterinarian and his or her paraprofessional team as THE animal health care experts."
–R. SCOTT NOLEN