Dr. Gregg K. Takashima learned about the American Animal Hospital Association because of its accreditation program for veterinary practices, but he joined because of its overall commitment to quality in small animal medicine.
The new AAHA president, owner of Parkway Veterinary Hospital in Lake Oswego, Ore., said the association's leaders want to push the veterinary profession forward on all fronts to improve animal care at the local and global levels.
"This is a profession that I've grown to think is one of the best professions there is, and I want to take care of it. To do that, you need to take part and have a voice—and a constructive voice."
—DR. GREGG K. TAKASHIMA, AAHA PRESIDENT
Dr. Takashima always knew he liked working with animals, large and small, but he started out in oceanography rather than veterinary medicine.
After earning a bachelor's degree in biology from Oregon State University, he entered a graduate program in marine ecology at San Diego State University. He conducted research at SeaWorld and Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Soon, though, he found that he missed working with people.
For a while, he worked for a veterinarian for free, cleaning kennels. He became a veterinary technician and then a supervisor. Eventually he attended the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, graduating in 1983.
Dr. Takashima spent time as an associate veterinarian in Brainard, Minn., and as a relief veterinarian in the Portland area before opening his practice near Portland in 1986. The solo practice grew into an eight-veterinarian operation.
Since joining AAHA, Dr. Takashima has served on committees relevant to the practice team as well as hospital accreditation. He has served on the board since 2005, becoming an officer in 2008.
Dr. Takashima also has been active in other organizations. He has been president of the Portland VMA, board president of the Dove Lewis Memorial Emergency and Critical Care Animal Hospital, chair of the Portland Community College Advisory Board, and board chair of the Delta Society for the improvement of human health through service and therapy animals. He currently serves as a board member for the American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians.
"This is a profession that I've grown to think is one of the best professions there is, and I want to take care of it," he said. "To do that, you need to take part and have a voice—and a constructive voice."
Dr. Takashima is the current U.S. delegate to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. Just as AAHA seeks to improve small animal medicine in North America, he said, WSAVA seeks to improve small animal medicine around the globe. The two associations have partnered on projects such as adapting AAHA guidelines for other regions, Dr. Takashima said.
"Through collaboration, we can effect positive change more than we could by ourselves," he said.
As AAHA president, Dr. Takashima plans to promote the importance of the practice team and the value of veterinary professionals as caretakers of the human-animal bond. Within the association, he will be seeking more input and participation by members.
Dr. Takashima also hopes to increase the involvement of veterinary students and recent graduates in AAHA. The association has created a special Web site for students with sections for career planning, financial planning, life balance, and other resources. This year, the annual meeting featured a daylong session for recent graduates, "Career Launch Pad: Empowering Performance & Satisfaction."
Regarding animal welfare, Dr. Takashima said, AAHA recently recommissioned its Animal Ethics and Welfare Committee to revisit all of its existing position statements. The next step is to scan current issues in animal welfare to determine which are relevant to small animal veterinarians in North America.
For the future, Dr. Takashima said, the profession should re-examine the model of small animal practice. He said the practices that will survive—especially in this economy—are those that can respond to changes in demographics, technology, lifestyles, and how society views animals.
Dr. Michael R. Moyer
Dr. Mark Russak
Dr. G. Timothy Lee
Dr. John D. Tait
Joining Dr. Takashima as AAHA officers are Drs. Michael R. Moyer, Bensalem, Pa., president-elect; Mark Russak, Starkville, Miss., vice president; G. Timothy Lee, Anderson, Ind., secretary-treasurer; and John D. Tait, Guelph, Ontario, immediate past president.
Dr. Larry R. Corry, AVMA president and AAHA member, offered comments at the recent AAHA meeting. He began by remarking on the economic challenges facing small animal practice.
"I would suggest that you consider this a golden opportunity to reassess your practice situation," he said. "This is going to take a team approach. Just as every member of your hospital is part of a team, I want you to look at the AVMA as being part of your team."
Dr. Corry said the AVMA advocates for legislation benefiting veterinarians and small businesses, conducts research on subjects such as pet demographics and consumer attitudes, and participates in the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues to provide financial benchmarking tools for practices.