September 01, 2008


 House of Delegates acts on resolutions

Animal ID, drug compounding, equal pay, 'one health' among issues addressed

Posted Aug. 15, 2008

In addition to resolutions on veal calf housing (page 689) and increased AVMA involvement with veterinary students (page 685), the House of Delegates took action July 19 in New Orleans on 11 other resolutions. 

Animal identification

Two resolutions dealing with animal identification received strong approval. 

An ovation by the delegates followed their approval of Resolution 17, "Linking of Companion Animal Microchip Databases." It calls for the AVMA to actively promote the implementation of linking companion animal microchip databases. Dr. Larry Dee, delegate from the Florida VMA, which submitted it, said, "This does not change AVMA policy; it puts the issue on the action list. Personally, I think this is something we need to move forward on."

The statement included with the resolution noted that establishing linkages between the databases—or a national database or search engine—would dramatically simplify the ability to return lost companion animals. It states that for years, AVMA policy has supported the establishment of a single source for companion animal microchip database information recovery, but to no avail, and that the Association must take proactive measures to implement its policy.

Resolution 8, "Livestock Identification," received a 100 percent vote of approval. It resolves that the HOD support identification of livestock to enable trace back and trace forward of animals for disease control and eradication programs. Dr. Michael Whitehair of the House Advisory Committee, which submitted it, said, "As we look at the scope of veterinary medicine, we recognize as we play in the international arena it's important for us to have a policy ... especially in the area of food safety."

The statement with the resolution says that approval of this resolution will reaffirm AVMA support of livestock identification programs. The Association has two existing policies. The AVMA Policy on Livestock Identification recommends that a high priority be placed on using alternatives to hot-iron branding, such as radio frequency identification electronic technology. The AVMA policy titled National Animal Identification System supports an effective NAIS that comprises key elements it defines. 

Drug compounding

The HOD approved Resolution 7, "Drug Compounding of Unapproved Mimics," which encourages the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine to strictly enforce its rules prohibiting drug compounding that produces unapproved mimics of commercially available FDA-approved drugs. The purpose is to ensure the health and welfare of animals and the public. 

This resolution is not targeted at traditional, patient-specific compounding. The House Advisory Committee and American Association of Equine Practitioners, sponsors of the resolution, acknowledge in their accompanying statement that use of compounded products has a place in veterinary medicine when an FDA-approved product is not available to meet the medical needs of an animal. Their concern is that the "proliferation" of companies manufacturing and selling illegally compounded pharmaceuticals for animals compromises patient safety and hampers the future development of new drugs. 

One-health initiative

The HOD strongly approved Resolution 9, "One Health Initiative," submitted by HAC. It mandates the AVMA to engage in enhanced collaboration and communication with the health sciences professions and their respective associations working locally, nationally, and globally among multiple disciplines to attain optimal health for people, animals, and the environment. The resolution specifically mentions human medicine and the American Medical Association, public health and the American Public Health Association, environmental health, and other key stakeholders. 

Previously the AVMA Executive Board established the One Health Initiative, and the AMA House of Delegates in June 2007 approved a resolution supporting a one-health initiative and dialogue with the AVMA. 

Model certificate of inspection

Approval of Resolution 6, "Model Certificate of Veterinary Inspection," means that the AVMA will develop a model certificate for the domestic travel of companion animals. The HAC submitted the resolution because there is no uniform certificate among states, and the existing Department of Agriculture form for international travel does not work well for domestic travel. The model certificate could also be used for purposes such as boarding, shows, exhibitions, and training classes. 

FARAD funding

The HOD unanimously approved Resolution 3, "Funding for Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank," encouraging the delegates, alternate delegates, and principal and constituent allied veterinary organizations represented in the HOD to engage in grassroots support for FARAD funding.


Dr. Larry Dee
Dr. Larry Dee successfully pleads for approval of the Florida VMA resolution to have the AVMA
actively promote the implementation of linking companion animal microchip databases.

FARAD is the primary source of scientifically based recommendations for withdrawal intervals after extralabel drug use and source of residue mitigation information when food animals are exposed to environmental contaminants. Funding has been an ongoing challenge, and the AVMA has been actively advocating for permanent multiyear funding of $2.5 million per year. The HAC submitted the resolution to strengthen support for permanent funding by encouraging HOD members to advocate for it with their congressional representatives. 

Economic study

Resolution 13, "Encourage the NCVEI To Study and Address Economic Issues Impacting Veterinarians in Public Practice and Academia," was approved after being amended on a motion by Dr. Sal Cirone, District of Columbia VMA delegate, to state that the Executive Board encourages, rather than commissions, a study by the National Commission on Veterinary Economic issues. 

The DCVMA and five other associations proposed that the NCVEI (1) study economic factors impacting veterinarians in federal and state public practice and academia, including salaries and benefits, recruitment, retention, and professional opportunities, (2) evaluate how these factors compare with allied health professions, and how they affect allied professions, and (3) make recommendations on how to close any gaps that exist and prevent them from growing. The estimated cost is $150,000 and is contingent on AVMA Executive Board consideration.

The other sponsors were the National Association of Federal Veterinarians, American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians, and Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware VMAs. 

FSIS staffing

As requested by HAC in Resolution 2, "Veterinary Staffing of USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service"—which the HOD approved—the AVMA will encourage the FSIS to add more veterinary positions and hire more veterinarians to adequately enforce the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. 

Enforcing the humane handling/slaughter provisions and the food safety aspects of federal inspections compete for veterinarians' attention and time. Moreover, a recent NAFV survey reported a 19 percent decrease in FSIS veterinarians since 1997.

Equal pay

Seven organizations submitted Resolution 11, "Make It a Legislative Priority for Veterinarians To Receive Equitable Pay in Public Practice Compared to Other Health Professions," and it received a strong vote of approval. Sponsors were the DCVMA, NAFV, AAFHV, and Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Delaware VMAs. 

This resolution calls for the AVMA to place top priority on proposing and advocating for passage of legislation that would provide equal pay for veterinarians and physicians performing equal work in the federal government, with regard to base salary and special pay; to support state VMAs pursuing equity in pay for public practice veterinarians; and to work with other organizations to accomplish these goals.

Resolution 12, submitted by the same organizations, was disapproved. It proposed that the AVMA adopt an official position that it leads the initiative to promote equal pay for veterinarians and physicians doing equal work, as part of the One Health Initiative mandate. 

Canine influenza research

The HOD disapproved Resolution 10, "Promotion of Research on Canine Influenza," in which the Iowa VMA called for the AVMA to actively promote evidence-based research on canine influenza virus and its potential effects on animal and human health. 

Much of the statement accompanying the IVMA resolution focused on canine influenza virus, which originated from equine isolates, as an example of the lack of funding for health research dedicated to companion animals and horses. Members of Reference Committee 3 agreed on the need for research in those species but not on singling out canine influenza as an AVMA initiative. Featured prominently in the statement about the resolution was the Institute for Companion Animal and Equine Research, a developing AVMA initiative that was a primary motivating factor for the resolution. In the reference committee, Iowa delegate Dr. Janet S. Wilson expressed support for ICAER and was pleased with a progress report given by Council on Research members in attendance.

On the HOD floor, Dr. John R. Clifford, deputy administrator of Veterinary Services in the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, spoke against the resolution for another reason. Dr. Clifford, who represents APHIS on the advisory panel to the HOD, said personnel at the APHIS Center for Veterinary Biologics have concerns about lack of evidence that canine influenza virus is causing disease in dogs.

"What we need is more research and discussion about whether the virus is causing a disease complex in the animals. We do not want an approved vaccine that does not have proven benefits," Dr. Clifford said.

The AVMA does have a policy approved in 2006 that states there is an urgent need for an effective canine influenza virus vaccine.

See the news update above on canine influenza outbreaks.