Collaborating on animal welfare

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Animal welfare was the focus of several AVMA Executive Board actions in June.

Approval was given to conduct an animal welfare symposium in 2009 as a cooperative effort between the AVMA and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. Of the total $170,000 cost, $60,000 will come from the AVMA Strategic Goal Fund. The AAVMC will provide $60,000 in matching funds, and it is anticipated that $50,000 will be offset by income from registration fees.

The symposium program will encompass a basic but comprehensive review of animal welfare, with speakers representing a broad spectrum of expertise and perspectives. A substantive part of the program will be geared toward veterinary students and faculty. The AVMA/AAVMC Joint Committee and the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee recommended the symposium.

Participation in a new nonprofit organization called the CATalyst Council and establishment of an AVMA liaison relationship were approved. The AVMA Communications Division made the recommendation. The $1,000 cost covers liaison travel.

The purpose of the CATalyst Council is to engage in humanitarian and public education activities to improve the health and welfare of domestic cats. It was formed following the CATalyst Summit held by the American Association of Feline Practitioners in February to determine why owned cats in the United States receive half the veterinary care dogs do.

The AVMA is one of four organizations invited to name a director to its board, along with the AAFP, American Animal Hospital Association, and Society of Animal Welfare Administrators.

The board approved an AVMA partnership with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to produce Web-based educational materials for AVMA members on identifying and addressing animal neglect, abuse, and cruelty, and understanding the relationships between animal abuse and domestic violence. The partnership was recommended by the AVMA Committee on the Human-Animal Bond.

As recommended by the Animal Welfare Committee, the AVMA policy "Disabled Livestock" was revised to clarify that animals in extreme distress or with irreversible conditions should be euthanized immediately and not allowed to proceed to slaughter. To view the policy, click here.

The convening of an AVMA Panel on Euthanasia beginning in 2009 and a corresponding plan were approved by the board, as recommended by the Animal Welfare Committee. The panel will be supported by working groups whose members have demonstrated expertise regarding particular euthanasia techniques or the application of techniques to various animal types, species, and/or uses. The $46,000 cost will come from the AVMA Strategic Goal Fund.

According to an AVMA policy adopted in 2006, the Association will convene a panel of scientists at least once every 10 years. The most recent panel was convened in 1998, and the 2000 report was published in 2001. An interim revision was made in 2006. An increasing number of inquiries to the AVMA suggest the need for updated guidelines, and a general review of related scientific literature indicates the existence of new information that should be evaluated.