June 15, 2009

 

 Delegates to consider revised AVMA ear crop, tail dock policy

Resolutions also deal with antimicrobials, HOD advisory panel, random-source animals

 posted June 1, 2009
Dog with cropped ears
AVMA delegates will revisit the Association's
policy opposing cosmetic ear crops and tail
docks on dogs.
 

Resolutions about a potential addition to the AVMA House of Delegates advisory panel, use of random-source animals, judicious use of antimicrobials, and cosmetic surgeries on dogs will be considered at the HOD regular annual session in Seattle, July 9-10.

The resolutions were submitted by the May 8 deadline. At press time, the Executive Board was scheduled to make its recommendations to the HOD on the resolutions at its June 4-6 meeting.

Resolution 1, submitted by the House Advisory Committee
Add American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Representation to AVMA House Advisory Panel
    "RESOLVED, that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) add the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians representation to the House Advisory Panel."

The advisory panel is currently made up of representatives of eight member organizations: the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians; Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Department of Homeland Security; National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials; National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Food Safety and Inspection services.

Advisory panel members do not vote on HOD actions, but instead, offer expert advice on a broad range of veterinary-related issues as needed.

Even though the size of the AAZV membership is too small to meet the membership requirements for being a constituent allied organization in the HOD, the HAC believes the group is an important informational resource.

Zoo veterinarians protect the health of many nondomestic species as well as contribute to public health by helping prevent zoonotic diseases from spreading. They also see to the welfare of the animals in zoo collections, the HAC explained.

"Adding the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians as an advisory panel member would give a voice to this valuable sector of our profession," the HAC wrote in the resolution background. "The House of Delegates would benefit from such an addition to the advisory panel when a resolution is under debate and zoo expertise is required."

Resolution 2, submitted by the House Advisory Committee
Revise Policy on Use of Random-Source Dogs and Cats for Research, Testing, and Education
    "RESOLVED, that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) revise its policy on the Use of Random-Source Dogs and Cats for Research, Testing, and Education to indicate opposition to the use of live animals procured from animal shelters or the use of live animals procured from dealers who deliver such animals from animal shelters, as noted below (deleted text is indicated by strikethrough, added text is indicated by underline)—"

Use of Random-Source Dogs and Cats for Research, Testing, and Education
(EB 1983; revised 6/91, 4/00, 11/07)

While the use of animals The carefully controlled use of random-source dogs and cats contributes greatly to improving the health and welfare of both animals and human beings Therefore, the AVMA believes there is ample justification for prudent and humane use of random-source dogs and cats in research, testing, and education, provided that:

  • The institution conducting such research, testing, or education has met all legal requirements and guidelines pertaining to the acquisition, care, and use of dogs and cats for these purposes;
  • The investigators have thoughtfully examined the need for such dogs and cats, appropriately justified the use of the species, and carefully determined the minimum number required to meet the needs of the protocol;
  • Adequate safeguards are used to ensure that only appropriately screened dogs and cats are obtained legally; and
  • Preventive measures are taken to optimize the health of dogs and cats used in research, testing, and education

that no live dogs or cats shall be procured from an animal shelter, or a dealer who provides live animals from an animal shelter, for the purpose of such research, testing, and education (with the exception of dogs/cats which may be used by students in veterinary programs for harmless procedures).

Random-source animals can include dogs and cats obtained from shelters, breeders, individuals who offer their own pets, pet stores, and class B dealers, according to the resolution background. Resolution 2 focuses only on live animals, and specifically, live animals originating from animal shelters.

The HAC explained in its statement about the proposal that the AVMA should not support a policy whereby animals that are abandoned, neglected, or lost are given over to a research or testing facility instead of a loving home or, where necessary, are euthanized.

The present AVMA policy on random-source use runs counter to the public's concept of an animal shelter and may impede the surrender of pets to such a facility, the HAC added.

In the resolution background, the term "pound seizure" is described as being commonly used to denote pets originating from an animal shelter as the source for research or testing. It is illegal in 17 states and Washington, D.C.

"Representing itself as the authority on animal welfare issues, the AVMA should adopt a policy which is more sensitive to the issues surrounding the source of live dogs and cats used for research, testing, and education," the HAC background states.

Examples of the "harmless procedures" mentioned in the resolution are physical examinations, spaying/neutering, bandaging, ultrasonography, and radiology, the background states.

Resolution 3, submitted by the New Jersey VMA, Association of Avian Veterinarians, and Washington State VMA
Judicious Therapeutic Use of Antimicrobials Policy
    "RESOLVED, that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) revise the Judicious Therapeutic Use of Antimicrobials Policy as indicated below (deletions are struckthrough):"

The following is the only sentence in the policy with a proposed change.

Judicious use of antimicrobials, when under the direction of a veterinarian, should meet all requirements of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

As organizational policy, the AVMA should have the clearly stated, unequivocal concept that veterinarians are the gatekeepers and decision makers regarding judicious use of antimicrobials, the resolution sponsors explained in the background.

"There should be no exclusion in policy that suggests or implies that judicious use is only appropriate when under the direction of a veterinarian," the groups stated.

Veterinarians' education, knowledge, experience, and licensure render them as the only individuals entrusted with ensuring judicious use of antimicrobials, they continued. "To state that the judicious use only applies when such use is under the direction of a veterinarian suggests tacit approval of non-judicious use," they wrote.

If the HOD accepts the revised policy, the new policy would be expected to supersede and be applied to all AVMA policies in which similar wording and/or intent is present, the groups wrote.

Resolution 4, submitted by the Utah VMA
Revise Policy on Ear Cropping and Tail Docking of Dogs
    "RESOLVED, that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) revise the AVMA policy on Ear Cropping and Tail Docking of Dogs as indicated below (deletions are stuckthrough and additions are underlined):"

Ear Cropping and Tail Docking of Dogs
The AVMA opposes ear cropping and tail docking of dogs when done solely for cosmetic purposes. Although cosmetic ear cropping and tail docking of dogs has little or no therapeutic basis, it is a procedure that is condoned by the American Kennel Club and by many members of society. It is imperative that the procedures be performed by trained, licensed, and caring veterinarians using current standard of care. The AVMA encourages the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from in breed standards. Members of the AVMA will conform to all state mandates concerning the procedures.

Resolution 4 gives the HOD a chance to weigh in on the recently revised AVMA policy. In November 2008, the Executive Board amended the policy to state that the AVMA opposes these procedures when done solely for cosmetic purposes. In addition, the amended policy encourages the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards.

The Utah VMA proposes amending the policy to, among other things, retract AVMA opposition to the procedures.

The Utah VMA writes in the resolution background that the Executive Board action was made without input from the HOD. The board was within its purview to do so, but the revised policy took a "much more hard line slant" than earlier iterations on the matter, which included warnings about the risks of cosmetic ear crops and tail docks, the Utah VMA wrote.

Society has mixed feelings about the procedures, which are minor surgeries, relatively safe, and cause little discomfort to the animals, the Utah VMA continued. Moreover, public demand for ear crops and tail docks is high, and many AVMA members continue performing the procedures.

"The issue for the AVMA is not to decide what surgery pet owners want or do not want for their pets, but rather to be sure all surgical procedures performed by licensed veterinarians are with proper protocol and proper postoperative care," the association wrote.

Veterinarians are not compelled to perform the procedures, the Utah VMA added, and the resolution indicates only that these procedures should be performed by licensed professionals who are willing and able to do them.

The four resolutions and their accompanying statements are posted on the AVMA Web site (www.avma.org) in the About the AVMA section under House of Delegates 2009 Annual Session Agenda Items.