On Friday, April 17, the image of a veterinarian posing with a cat she claimed to have shot with a bow and arrow quickly went viral and led to an outpouring of anger and disgust from around the world.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) was equally appalled and disturbed by this image, and immediately took action to assess the situation while responding to individual complaints via social media and telephone. A special e-mail address, JudicialCouncil@avma.org, has been established to gather complaints regarding this situation and forward to the AVMA Judicial Council, which investigates all matters concerning allegations of unethical conduct of veterinarians. The AVMA Judicial Council can take action up to, and including, dismissal from the AVMA in accordance with the AVMA’s Rules of Disciplinary Procedures.
Dr. Ron DeHaven, the chief executive officer of the AVMA, issued the following statement:
“The AVMA was shocked and appalled when we saw this image. We immediately contacted veterinary officials in Texas to assess the situation. We understand that the veterinary clinic for whom this veterinarian was working took quick action and terminated her employment. The Texas Veterinary Medical Licensing Board has opened an investigation, and local authorities are investigating to see whether any violations of law occurred. We are confident that the legal system and licensing board will take appropriate action, and we will continue to monitor the situation.
“We are disturbed that this situation undermines the public trust and credibility that veterinarians have earned and so richly deserve. Every veterinarian takes an oath which states in part that they will “use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering.” The behavior depicted in the photograph and its caption is contrary to that oath and all that the veterinary profession strives to be; we are committed to ensuring that every animal is treated with respect and dignity. We see the veterinarian as helping to understand and convey the animal’s voice. The AVMA’s focus is on protecting the welfare of cats and all animals in all situations. We hope the alleged isolated actions of one veterinarian will not tarnish the proud reputation earned by thousands who have dedicated their careers to promote the welfare of animals everywhere.”
Comments on this situation previously received by the AVMA have been gathered and will be forwarded to the Judicial Council for review. Additional public concerns should be sent to JudicialCouncil@avma.org.
For more information about the AVMA, visit www.avma.org.