Board acts to remove hurdles to AVMA membership

Proposed bylaws change to go to House of Delegates
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Dr. Thomas F. Meyer chairs the AVMA Executive Board meeting held this past August at Association headquarters.

The AVMA Executive Board met Aug. 27-28 to take up an agenda dealing with such issues as AVMA membership requirements, livestock traceability and animal identification, and selection of AVMA Council on Education members.

Dr. Thomas F. Meyer of Vancouver, Wash., chaired the meeting, much of which was spent in strategic discussions about the year ahead. Following are meeting highlights.

AVMA membership requirements

The Executive Board has initiated an AVMA Bylaws amendment that it believes will help remove barriers to AVMA membership.

In June, the board directed the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division to review pathways for becoming an Association member. At its August meeting, the board heard the findings of that review, including the fact that the current bylaws requirement that applicants be endorsed by two AVMA members is more than a century old. Data show a decreasing number of applicants using this route, while an increasing number use their membership in a constituent or allied organization to join the AVMA.

Staff noted that member endorsements are no longer required by the American Medical Association, American Dental Association, or American Association of Equine Practitioners.

As a result of the various findings, the Executive Board has sent the AVMA House of Delegates a recommendation for a bylaws amendment deleting the following membership requirement options: endorsement by two AVMA members; membership in a recognized veterinary organization or specialty college; or endorsement of the organizations represented in the Student AVMA.

The board has also proposed eliminating from the bylaws the associate member category and member reinstatement policy and ending legal residence as a requirement for the voting and affiliate membership categories.

The HOD is expected to consider the proposed AVMA Bylaws changes at its winter session this January in Chicago.

The Great Bull Run

An American version of the annual Spanish tradition of the running of the bulls presents animal welfare concerns and human safety risks, the AVMA says about the event promoted as “the adrenaline rush of a lifetime.”

Organizers describe The Great Bull Run as an opportunity for “up to 1,000 adrenaline junkies” to be pursued by two dozen bulls down a quarter-mile course. “By participating in the run, you accept the risk that you might be trampled, gored, rammed or tossed in the air by a bull,” organizers warn.

The first U.S. running of the bulls was held this summer in Virginia. Additional runs are scheduled in cities throughout the year and in 2014.

AVMA Immediate Past President Douglas G. Aspros follows the discussion regarding a proposal of AVMA support for the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.

The AVMA Animal Welfare Committee Management Subcommittee recommended that the Executive Board take a position of nonsupport for the event. The subcommittee explained that, in addition to the unnecessary human risks, the U.S. running of the bulls is inconsistent with AVMA policies regarding the use of animals for human purposes and the protection and assurance of animals’ good welfare. As examples, the subcommittee cited the AVMA Animal Welfare Principles and the policies “Animals Used in Entertainment, Shows and For Exhibition” and “Livestock Handling Tools.”

Education council membership selection

In compliance with a recent AVMA Bylaws amendment, the Executive Board has approved formation of a new selection committee as part of a revised process for appointing AVMA Council on Education members.

Council member appointment will now be shared among the new AVMA COE Selection Committee (appointing eight members), the COE (appointing three public members), the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (appointing eight members), and the Canadian VMA (appointing one member).

The AVMA COE Selection Committee will include one member elected by the House Advisory Committee, two former COE members (private practitioners preferred) elected by the Executive Board, and two Executive Board members elected by the board to serve three-year, staggered terms.

The selection committee will be responsible for appointing COE members as current members complete their terms and rotate off the council. These positions include one at-large member, six members in private clinical practice, and one nonprivate, nonacademic member.

The AVMA HOD approved the bylaws amendment this past July in response to concerns that the previous member appointment process could be perceived as the AVMA exerting inappropriate influence on the council’s accreditation of veterinary colleges (see JAVMA, Sept. 1, 2013).

New livestock traceability and ID policy

The AVMA has a new policy on livestock identification and animal traceability. The AVMA Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee recommended the Association adopt a single, consolidated policy that supersedes the two previous positions on the issue. The new policy reads as follows:

Livestock Identification and Animal Traceability

The AVMA believes that permanent, unique identification of animals and premises is essential for tracing origin and destination of all livestock, and in particular food producing animals, in order to protect the nation’s livestock industry and public health, and to enable the trace back and trace forward of animals for the purpose of animal disease control and eradication. The AVMA recommends that a high priority be placed on the development of alternatives to hot-iron branding such as the use of electronic individual animal identification and the development of an electronic system to facilitate rapid trace back of livestock in the event of a highly contagious disease outbreak.


Executive Board members amended a recommendation from the AVMA/National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America Executive Board Liaison Committee to say the AVMA will explore ways of supporting NAVTA by opening discussions with the association.

A global public good

The AVMA and Federation of Veterinarians of Europe have issued a joint statement describing the veterinary profession as a global public good.

Dr. Michael L. Whitehair, District IX representative on the Executive Board, during a lighter moment of the board meeting

Both the AVMA Executive Board and FVE board of directors approved the statement in August. Two years ago, the organizations issued the first of three joint statements on veterinary education, animal welfare, and the use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine. Those statements are still relevant today and posted on the websites of the FVE and AVMA.

The latest joint statement, titled “The Essential Role of Veterinarians in Protecting Animal, Human, Public, and Environmental Health—A Global Public Good,” highlights the work of veterinarians caring for animals and in nontraditional career fields. “The myriad other roles veterinarians play in protecting and advancing human, public, and environmental health are less recognized by the public, yet are essential to the continued well-being of people and animals at the local, national, regional, and international levels,” the statement reads, in part.

“Given the breadth and depth of veterinary medicine,” the statement concludes, “the AVMA and FVE believe the profession is an essential component of one health. Veterinarians are integral to missions at the human-animal-environment interface. Further, the veterinary profession is a global public good as defined by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).”

The FVE and AVMA have pledged to promote all aspects of veterinary medicine through public outreach campaigns and political advocacy. In so doing, both organizations are committed to working together to ensure that necessary resources are available to advance the veterinary profession on a global level.

Resolutions 14 and 15

The Executive Board postponed until its November meeting its recommendation on a resolution to admit the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture to the House of Delegates as a constituent allied veterinary organization.

The board had already recommended delegates approve Resolution 14. But at the HOD regular annual session this past July, questions about the AAVA prompted delegates to refer the proposal back to the board to investigate whether the academy truly represents veterinary acupuncturists (see JAVMA, Sept. 1, 2013).

The board directed staff to obtain more information from interested parties for review at its November meeting.

And, in accordance with Resolution 15, the AVMA has sent delegates and alternate delegates questions and results of the AVMA Member Needs Assessment Survey related to governance and member participation used by the Task Force on Governance and Member Participation. The confidential report was mailed to each relevant HOD member this past August.

AVMA board makes appointments

The AVMA Executive Board, meeting Aug. 27-28, elected the following individuals to the entities indicated, representing the designated areas. The duration of each term varies.

Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities
Veterinary technicians—James Sessum, Bryan, Texas; laboratory animal medicine—Dr. Cynthia Lockworth, Houston

Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates
Non-native English-speaking clinical practitioner holding an ECFVG certificate—Dr. Sarah Hadzic, Wonder Lake, Ill.; public health or food safety—Dr. Dmitry Volokhov, Germantown, Md.

American Kennel Club
AVMA liaison—Dr. Joseph Kinnarney, Reidsville, N.C.

Council for Agriculture Science and Technology
AVMA/Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee liaison—Dr. Daniel Gingerich, Lebanon, Ohio