Three resolutions given nod

Delegates vote for additional HOD session, animal-use statement, ongoing accreditation training
Published on September 01, 2006
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Of the eight resolutions considered by the AVMA House of Delegates in 2006, three won the body's approval July 15.

Generating the most debate was Resolution 6, which called for the HOD to hold an official business session at the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference each year, beginning in January 2008. The HOD reference committee recommended approval of holding this additional business session each year, but the Executive Board and House Advisory Committee had made no recommendation.

The resolution was submitted by the Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Oregon, Kentucky, Ohio, and Illinois State VMAs. The sponsors estimated the financial impact at $20,000, although the actual costs are not known. The resolution states:

Resolved, that beginning in January 2008, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) House of Delegates holds an official business session at the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference.

One school of thought among delegates was that it would be better to call for a special session of the HOD to be held during the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference as needed in January of any year, rather than commit to a second official HOD meeting each year. Proponents suggested that this would retain the focus of the VLC on leadership development.

Ultimately, however, the delegates decided in favor of the resolution.

Bylaws amendments will be needed to provide for an additional session. It is also expected that fall meetings of councils, committees, and the Executive Board will have to be shifted to about a month earlier so that the meeting cycle begins in August, in advance of the required deadlines leading up to the HOD session.

Dr. John de Jong, House Advisory Committee chairman, had said earlier this summer that if Resolution 6 were approved, the HAC would develop a streamlined agenda for the January sessions.

Also approved was Resolution 8, first submitted for HOD consideration July 14. It states the following:

Resolved, that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) affirms the responsible use of animals for human purposes, such as companionship, food, fiber, education, exhibition, and research conducted for the benefit of humans and animals, is consistent with the principles of the Veterinarian's Oath. These principles include:

  • The protection of animal health,

  • The relief of animal suffering,

  • The conservation of animal resources,

  • The promotion of public health, and

  • The advancement of medical knowledge.

Fifteen allied organizations submitted Resolution 8. By a two-thirds majority vote, the HOD accepted delivery of the resolution after the deadline. The HAC called a meeting to deliberate on the resolution and recommended that the HOD approve it, as did the reference committee. The resolution was not submitted in time for the Executive Board to discuss it.

Washington delegate, Dr. Thomas Meyer, expressed concern that the principles described in Resolution 8 are already covered in the Veterinarian's Oath and AVMA mission statement, and that it was developed in response to Resolution 4, which states:

Resolved, that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) hereby declares animal welfare to be a higher priority than economic considerations.

However, American Animal Hospital Association delegate, Dr. Merry Crimi, said that the AAHA and other sponsors wrote Resolution 8 to reaffirm "the palette" of principles.

The animal rights organization Farm Sanctuary generated the AVMA-member petition that resulted in Resolution 4. Farm Sanctuary contends that the AVMA has aligned itself with industrial agribusiness and that the resolution challenges the Association to reevaluate its priorities.

The statement about the resolution notes that in some instances, the economic priorities of animal industries may be in conflict with the welfare of animals, that the AVMA is considered a leader on matters relating to animal welfare, and that veterinarians have an ethical obligation to promote animal welfare. The final point calls for veterinarians to place a higher priority on animal welfare when required to choose between animal welfare and economic considerations.

The board, HAC, and reference committee all recommended disapproval. The HOD voted, however, to refer Resolution 4 to the Animal Welfare Committee. Florida delegate, Dr. Larry Dee, recommended the referral, noting that the resolution does not define "animal welfare" or "economic considerations."

The HOD approved Resolution 5 without discussion. The board, HAC, and reference committee recommended approval. The resolution states:

Resolved, that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) urges the USDA-APHIS to implement ongoing training programs for accredited veterinarians in the United States.

In their statement about the resolution, the Indiana and Wisconsin VMAs note that the 60,000-plus accredited veterinarians are a valuable tool for ensuring public health and safety, and it is important to modernize the accreditation training and to provide for periodic reaccreditation of veterinarians.

In June, Dr. H. Ron DeHaven, administrator of the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, contacted AVMA staff to offer a supporting context for the HOD as it considered Resolution 5. Dr. DeHaven noted that the proposed new structure for the National Veterinary Accreditation Program, published for comment in the June 1, 2006, Federal Register, would provide accredited veterinarians with better tools to meet U.S. disease prevention, preparedness, and response challenges. This process includes an emphasis on lifetime education for accredited veterinarians.

Resolutions 1, 2, and 3, which related to financial policies of the AVMA, were disapproved. They were submitted collectively by the California, Oregon, and Wisconsin VMAs.

The board, HAC, and reference committee had recommended disapproval of resolutions 2 and 3, which called for establishment of AVMA policies on maintaining a certain level of cash reserves and limiting unbudgeted spending, respectively. During his treasurer's report to the HOD July 14, Dr. Bret D. Marsh had told delegates that AVMA fiscal policies are in place and are being observed, and he described the relevant ones. During the July 15 deliberations on the resolutions, California delegate, Dr. George Bishop, said there is no problem now, but that resolutions 2 and 3 had been intended as guidelines for the Executive Board in the future.

Resolution 1 called for the AVMA to determine whether charitable giving is part of the Association's mission and if so, to define charitable giving and a charitable giving policy. One delegate noted that the resolution should have defined, not asked, what to do. The reference committee had recommended referral to the HOD for overview and clarification. The board made no recommendation, and HAC recommended approval.

Concurring with the board, HAC, and reference committee, the HOD disapproved Resolution 7, submitted by petition of AVMA members. It called for opposing "the practice of mechanical force feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras because of the adverse effects on the birds' health and welfare associated with this practice."

The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights helped generate the AVMA-member petitions that resulted in Resolution 7.

Vermont delegate, Dr. Thomas Munschauer, agreed with concerns identified in a passage in the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee report suggesting the process involves inducing a disease as a goal (rather than as an adverse consequence) of production of a foodstuff. However, delegates applauded Dr. James Harris, Association of Avian Veterinarians delegate, for his comments recounting the historical basis for various agricultural production practices, and declined to support the resolution.