Executive Board meets pressing needs

Process for updating euthanasia report, disaster coordinator position approved
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The 2005-2006 AVMA Executive Board held its final meeting July 13 in Honolulu, prior to the 2006 session of the House of Delegates and the AVMA Annual Convention. Dr. Robert E. "Bud" Hertzog, District VII, of Lee's Summit, Mo., chaired the meeting.

Drs. Cook and Hertzog

Initiating discussion on a recommendation she submitted, AVMA immediate past president Dr. Bonnie V. Beaver asked the board to approve a procedure for updating sections of the Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia as new science becomes available in physiology, pharmacology, and species variations. Industry and organizations turn to the AVMA when knowledge develops about euthanasia methods, she said, and it would be helpful to have a process in place for the time between the convening of panels. Usually several years elapse between panels.

Board members agreed on the need to be timely in responding to inquiries about new procedures and agents of euthanasia, but some expressed concern over the recommendation's provision to charge members of the Animal Welfare Committee with evaluating euthanasia methods between the convening of expert panels. In response, Dr. Beaver said that the AWC, as recently revised, comprises representatives from wide disciplines of expertise and with working knowledge, and the committee is charged with making science-based decisions.

Another concern was that changing the name of the document from the Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia to AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia might erode its authority. An AVMA member in attendance at the board meeting, Dr. Charles L. Stoltenow, said that in the world where he works—as an extension veterinarian at North Dakota State University and member of its institutional animal care and use committee—the panel report is the gold standard, and it is critical to maintain that credibility.

After deliberating, the board approved the recommendation. It provides that at least once every 10 years, the AVMA will convene a panel of scientists to review all literature that scientifically evaluates methods and potential methods of euthanasia, with the goal of publishing the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia. During interim years, any request for procedures or agents to be considered for approval by the AVMA that deal with causing, facilitating, or complementing existing procedures of euthanasia will be directed to the Animal Welfare Committee. The AWC will evaluate available science on the procedure or agent to determine whether it should be included in the existing guidelines. If so, the AWC will draft appropriate wording and determine where it should be inserted. The AWC will then recommend the revisions to the Executive Board for inclusion, and if passed, the revised document will become the official version.

A case in point relative to providing guidance on euthanasia procedures was a proposed policy recommended by the Animal Welfare Committee on disposal of unwanted chicks, poults, and pipped eggs. Dr. Beaver said the question is whether this should be approved as a freestanding policy or as part of the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.

AVMA alaka’i assemble in Honolulu

The board voted to approve adoption of the policy for inclusion in the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia as follows:

Disposal of Unwanted Chicks, Poults, and Pipped Eggs

Unwanted chicks, poults, and pipped eggs should be killed by an acceptable humane method, such as use of a commercially designed macerator that results in instantaneous death. Smothering unwanted chicks or poults in bags or containers is not acceptable. Pips, unwanted chicks, or poults should be killed prior to disposal. A pipped egg, or pip, is one where the chick or poult has not been successful in escaping the egg shell during the hatching process.

National disaster coordinator

The board approved a new position within the AVMA Scientific Activities Division titled national coordinator, disaster preparedness and response. The recommendation came from Dr. Beaver and Dr. Roger K. Mahr, who was AVMA president-elect at the time and is now president.

In the background to their recommendation, Drs. Beaver and Mahr stated that "one of the clear expectations" from the AVMA National Animal Disaster Summit this past May (see report, page 943) was that "the AVMA, viewed as an impartial group, lead the coordination of efforts to organize disaster response efforts."

At the board meeting, Dr. Beaver said the federal government, humane groups, and the American Kennel Club were among those that came to the AVMA requesting such a coordinator.

The new AVMA staff person will implement recommendations for national coordination of major animal disasters and facilitate the evolving scope of the "one medicine" concept. AVMA Executive Vice President Bruce W. Little said this national disaster position will be strategic, compared with the AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams, which are more operational in nature.

Dr. John Brooks, District II board member, said, "This is a step that clearly shows the AVMA's commitment to an area the public is demanding."

Applicants must possess a DVM/VMD or equivalent degree. A position advertisement appears on page 1041 of this issue.

Enhancing certification examinations

The board approved a recommendation from the American Board of Veterinary Specialties to contract with Thomson Prometric to conduct a one-day job analysis workshop in February 2007 immediately prior to or after the ABVS annual meeting, at a cost of $11,000 for related costs.

Drs. Hertzog and Fobian (left) and Drs. Rhodes and Cohn (right)

Conducting a job analysis is considered the first step for specialty organizations to take toward enhancing their certification examinations. The systematic study provides information that will enable those planning examinations or other assessment tools to determine the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for successful job performance.

AVMA Harassment and Discrimination-Free Workplace Policy

A revised AVMA Harassment and Discrimination-Free Workplace Policy was approved by the board. It replaces the harassment policy dated November 2001. The existing policy was sound and appropriate from a legal perspective, but it was reviewed in keeping with the five-year review cycle of Association policies.

The revised document reflects additional language to ensure that AVMA volunteers and staff members have a clearly defined complaint procedure under this policy.  

July 19 meeting

On July 19, the final day of the convention, the 2006-2007 AVMA board conducted its first meeting of the new Association year. The first order of business was seating two new board members. Dr. Clark K. Fobian (MO '77), Sedalia, Mo., succeeded Dr. Hertzog in District VII; since the close of the 2006 session of the House of Delegates, July 15 in Honolulu, that district comprises Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Dr. Theodore J. Cohn (TUS '75), Littleton, Colo., succeeded Dr. R. Tracy Rhodes in District IX, which now comprises Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Utah.

Dr. James O. Cook (AUB '76), District V, was elected chair, succeeding Dr. Hertzog. Dr. Cook has owned a mixed practice in Lebanon, Ky., since 1977. Dr. Larry Corry (GA '66) of Buford, Ga., District IV, was elected vice chair. He owns two small animal hospitals and is a stockholder and board member for three emergency clinics.

The board approved a verbal motion to appoint Dr. Beaver to testify before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection about the American Horse Slaughter Protection Act, H.R. 503. Appearing before the subcommittee July 25, Dr. Beaver said the bill does not provide the financial support required to ensure that horses given up by their owners would be adequately cared for (see JAVMA, Sept. 1, 2006).

Executive Vice President Little was authorized to attend the XX Panamerican Association of Veterinary Sciences Congress this November in Santiago, Chile. The Panamerican Association of Veterinary Sciences has eight member countries from North, Central, and South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Uruguay, and the United States. The AVMA joined PANVET in the early 1970s, discontinued membership in 1984 because of concerns with organizational and financial matters, and rejoined the group in 2004 in recognition of AVMA's focus on globalization.

As reported in JAVMA Sept. 1, 2006, the board approved funding for recruitment expenses related to the search for a successor to Dr. Little, who recently announced his intention to retire Dec. 31, 2007.