Resourceful by nature and necessity, bovine practitioners pooled their talents and prevailed over the tragic sequence of events that threatened to derail their Sept. 13–15 annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.
With air travel temporarily halted beginning Sept. 11 and the Canadian border closed, it was primarily the attendees who had arrived early for the AABP preconference seminars who constituted the 800 attendees, including 500 veterinarians.
Preregistration of almost 2,300 had promised to make this the best-attended AABP conference ever. As it was, roughly half the anticipated attendees and exhibitors made it to Vancouver.
Program chairman and incoming president, Dr. N. Kent Ames, assembled AABP leaders, speakers, and program coordinators who were present Sept. 11. They decided to carry on with the conference, for those present and as a show of resolve against terrorism.
Regrouping, they improvised for missing speakers and program gaps. Veterinarians volunteered to substitute as moderators and coordinators, and for missing speakers. Some absent speakers gave "virtual" talks via speaker phone or the Internet.
Dr. Ames said, "All I would say was, 'I need someone to cover this' and somebody would step up. To be able to put on 24 out of 26 clinical forums with only 11 presenters there, to put on two days of the beef split-session programs with no speakers and no moderators present, and to put on a day and a half of reproductive programs with one speaker and moderator—it was just an inspiration to watch."
Over 300 CE hours were available, much of it dairy oriented. This year's program included the 2nd International Symposium on Mastitis and Milk Quality, arranged by the National Mastitis Council in conjunction with the AABP. According to Anne Saeman, NMC executive director, 88 oral presentations were planned and all but 15 were presented, even though only a third of the international speakers made it to Vancouver. The symposium papers are available in printed form or CD-ROM from the NMC.
Bovine reproduction was to have been another conference focus. The Society for Theriogenology/American College of Theriogenologists conference, scheduled this year in conjunction with the AABP, had to be canceled. Theriogenology leaders were to meet this fall to determine what to do about elements of the canceled program, such as the preconference symposium on canine reproduction.
"A lot of the success of this meeting was because of the people who came," Dr. Ames said. "They were so gracious and accommodating; we would change rooms, topics, speakers. Never once did anyone complain."
AABP executive vice president, Dr. James Jarrett, added, "It was said over and over at the conference that our problems were miniscule compared with what the people in New York and Washington were going through." Conferees observed moments of silence, said communal prayers, and held candlelight vigils.
The AABP board of directors did not have a quorum to conduct business. The board will convene in early December during the Academy of Veterinary Consultants meeting in Denver. Most committee meetings will be scheduled as conference calls.
AABP leaders do not yet know the financial implications of the meeting but assert that their organization is fiscally strong and has a contingency fund to cover such an eventuality. Preregistrants who could not get to Vancouver will be given refunds on request.
Dr. Ames said that biosecurity is not a new issue, especially given the foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in Great Britain and Europe earlier this year. In fact, as program chairman, he had put together a special panel session on FMD, which had to be canceled.
The Sept. 11 attacks will largely define the direction of his presidential year, he said. "We've talked about biosecurity issues for foreign animal diseases, with FMD and anthrax coming up repeatedly. We will stay on heightened alert, and we want to keep our membership aware of what they can do." In economic terms, he acknowledged there are going to be effects on the entire country, including food animal veterinarians. "But as long as the market stabilizes, I don't think it's going to be a major issue," he said. "A saving grace is that veterinary medicine, in our segment of the profession, is not a luxury item."
Recruitment of food animal veterinarians
During his presidency, Dr. Ames hopes to further pursue student recruitment into the bovine sector of the profession.
"Being a university professor, I look at what our profession can do to promote food animal medicine and get more students involved. The AABP has many programs already in operation—internships, scholarships—to bring people into our segment. If you look at our membership, what we've been doing has paid off in [attracting] more recent graduates."
Membership has grown over the past year from 5,657 to 6,438 and includes 1,190 student members. This year the AABP presented Amstutz Scholarships to 15 third-year students, and Research Assistantships to three recent graduates: Drs. Tiwari Ashwani, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada; Daryl Nydam, Ithaca, N.Y.; and Marilyn Buhman, Clay Center, Neb.
Attention needs to be directed at issues that keep resurfacing, Dr. Ames noted, such as illegal drug compounding and aminoglycoside use in cattle. The association's position states: "The American Association of Bovine Practitioners, being cognizant of food safety issues and concerns, encourages its members to refrain from the intramuscular, subcutaneous, or intravenous extralabel use of the aminoglycoside class of antibiotics in bovines."
There are also some lingering issues related to antimicrobial use.
"We look forward to the time when the Veterinary Antimicrobial Decision Support System being developed by Dr. Mike Apley will be up and running. I think the program will have a major impact on the attitudes of our members and their decision-making process," Dr. Ames said.
The decision support system will be a Web-based database accessible by veterinarians and veterinary students who subscribe. Dr. Apley hopes to have some applications out for a test run next summer.
AABP, AVMA leaders pledge unity
Dr. Harmon A.|
Dr. Harmon Rogers, AVMA Executive Board member, drove more than 400 miles from Pullman, Wash., to the AABP conference to fill in for AVMA president, Dr. James Brandt, who was unable to fly out of his home state of Florida.
Dr. Patricia Scharko
He told attendees the AVMA was receiving messages of condolence and support from veterinary organizations around the world after Sept. 11, and about the AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams' work in New York City. He advised them that the Department of Agriculture is calling for increased vigilance in reporting suspect cases of foreign animal disease, particularly in livestock and poultry.
Dr. Rogers reassured AABP members their association is fundamental to AVMA efforts. Before the conference, some AABP leaders and members expressed concern that food animal veterinarians were overlooked in an audiovisual presentation at the opening ceremony of the AVMA Annual Convention showcasing the role of veterinarians in society.
Dr. Mark F. Spire
"By some estimates, only about 10 percent to 15 percent of veterinarians today are actively and primarily engaged in bovine practice," Dr. Rogers said. "That percentage is far below the contributions that you make to society."
The AVMA and AABP will continue to move side by side toward many common goals, he said. "Keep up your good work in your individual practices, wherever they may be. Keep up your good work in the AABP. And keep up your good work and communication with the AVMA—your colleagues in advancing animal and human health."
After the conference, Dr. Ames said AABP leaders had "a very healthy exchange" with Dr. Rogers and (by phone) Dr. Roger Mahr, AVMA liaison to the AABP.
Dr. Mark Wustenberg
"We just wanted to make sure that having no reference to production animal medicine in the opening ceremony was an oversight and not a true representation of what the AVMA feels," Dr. Ames said. "I actually look forward to working with Roger Mahr and his people in the AVMA and with other production animal groups such as the AASV, AASRP, and Academy of Veterinary Consultants so we can see what our segment of the profession can do for the AVMA and what the AVMA can do for us."
Officers, new directors
Dr. N. Kent Ames of Michigan State University ascended to the presidency, and Dr. Patricia B. Scharko of the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center, Lexington, Ky., to the office of president-elect. Dr. Rod Sydenham, Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada, is immediate past president.
Prior to the conference, AABP members elected as vice president Dr. Mark F. Spire, professor and beef management specialist at the Food Animal Health and Management Center, Kansas State University.
In the office of treasurer, Dr. Mark Wustenberg, Bay City, Ore., will succeed Dr. Roger L. Saltman, Cazenovia, N.Y., who served six years. The change will occur Jan. 1, 2002.
The newly elected district director is Dr. Jim Fairless of Mount Forest, Ontario, representing District 12, which constitutes New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec.
In 2002 the AABP will meet in Madison, Wis., from Sept. 26–28. Subsequent meetings are in Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 18–20, 2003; Fort Worth, Texas, Sept. 23–25, 2004; and Salt Lake City, Sept. 24–26, 2005.
AABP Amstutz Scholarship winners|
The AABP Amstutz Scholarship winners for 2001 were awarded to the following third-year veterinary students: Rachelle M. Bennecke, Michigan State University; Benjamin K. Blankenship, Jennifer H. Coble, and Justin L. Hill, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine; Dana R. Boehm, Texas A&M University; Matthew J. Boyle, University of Minnesota; Charles C. Broaddus, Auburn University; Wesley D. Gunter, University of Missouri-Columbia; Randy J. Hays, Colorado State University; Alquin F. Heinnickel, Elizabeth Stammen, and David P. White, The Ohio State University; Jessica M. Pagenkopf, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Abraham E. Trone, University of Illinois; and Greg N. Wideman, University of Guelph.