AVMA director is first American veterinarian credentialed in animal welfare

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Dr. Golab
Dr. Gail C. Golab

The AVMA's Dr. Gail C. Golab enjoys the distinction of being the only American member of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists certified in animal welfare.

There is no American equivalent to the certification, so having the director of the AVMA Animal Welfare Division as a member of the ACVS Animal Welfare Chapter is seen as a plus for the Association.

"We've long recognized and valued Dr. Golab's expertise and national recognition in animal welfare," said Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, AVMA CEO and executive vice president. "This new certification from Australia adds international recognition and reflects positively on her as well as the overall level of expertise of the AVMA staff."

Dr. Golab is the only American veterinarian to be credentialed in animal welfare, according to the AVMA. She achieved membership in the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists' Animal Welfare Chapter July 3. The ACVSc and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons are the only organizations that offer animal welfare certifications for veterinarians.

Candidates for ACVSc certification must demonstrate a high degree of competence in animal welfare and have spent at least four years in full-time veterinary activity. Dr. Golab dedicated two years to preparing for the examinations, which consisted of written and oral portions and covered a wide range of theory and practical applications relating to the humane treatment of animals.

"There was no species or topic specificity associated with the examinations," noted Dr. Golab, who traveled to Queensland, Australia, in June to complete the final part of the test.

Dr. Golab had to take the examination as though she were an Australian veterinarian, meaning she had to address not only universal animal welfare questions but also acquire background on Australia's regulatory framework and its huge animal export industry.

"These issues are already complicated," Dr. Golab said, "but they get even more complicated when you consider how countries vary in their philosophies toward animal welfare and the unique challenges they face. One of the best things about this experience is how it broadened my perspective."

Dr. Golab joined the AVMA staff in 1995 as an assistant editor in the Publications Division. She later worked in the Education and Research and Communications divisions. At the AVMA, Dr. Golab quickly became involved in issues relevant to human-animal interactions. She is staff consultant to the Animal Welfare Committee and Committee on the Human-Animal Bond. She served on the Animal Welfare Governance Task Force and was staff consultant to the Task Force on the Housing of Pregnant Sows and Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. She was appointed director of the Animal Welfare Division in 2007.

Dr. Golab credited her years of working on complex animal welfare issues as great preparation for the certification examination. "Credibility is key when it comes to working effectively with stakeholders on animal welfare issues. Certification is one approach that can help establish credibility," she said.

Dr. David Bayvel, chair of the World Organization for Animal Health's Animal Welfare Working Group, called the awarding of ACVSc membership to Dr. Golab a fitting recognition of her international standing in the animal welfare community.

"It is also most pleasing to see the leadership position being taken by the AVMA on this complex international public policy issue," Dr. Bayvel added.