Posted Sept. 30, 2015
Less than a month before the winner of this year’s America’s Favorite Veterinarian Contest was to be revealed, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation canceled the contest because of “vicious” cyberbullying the AVMF says disrupted and contaminated the final process of election by the public.
The AVMF declared all 20 finalists “America’s Favorite Veterinarians,” and they were to receive certificates of recognition.
The AVMF explained in an Aug. 26 statement that most of the contest finalists had been targeted by opponents of onychectomy (declawing) in cats. One contestant was called, among other things, “a butcher, a mutilator, a hack, an animal hater, a disgrace to the profession.” Others were subjected to the circulation of fraudulent negative advertisements, negative reviews, and threatening phone calls.
“Apparently many of the so-called animal activists have no problem practicing cruelty to human beings,” observed Dr. John Brooks, chair of the AVMF board. “We have always respected the rights of others to have differing opinions, but to do so in a way that is personally destructive and disruptive is inexcusable.”
Dr. Brooks asked the activists to stop harassing the finalists, adding, “We deeply regret that our contestants had to endure this abuse and intend to take proactive steps in the future to prevent this type of interference from impacting our activities.”
America’s Favorite Veterinarian Contest was launched in 2013 to mark the AVMF’s 50th anniversary. The latest batch of finalists was selected from 500 nominees. The judging committee comprised animal health industry and association leaders as well as bloggers. Nominees were evaluated on their community involvement, ethical behavior, passion for the profession, and connections to pets and their owners.