Animal Care inspectors to call veterinarians more often

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Veterinarians who work with animal exhibitors, sellers, researchers, and transporters may soon get some more attention from Department of Agriculture inspectors.

Bernadette Juarez, deputy administrator of the Animal Care program for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said in an Aug. 6 letter to attending veterinarians, and in a related Aug. 8 video announcement, that Animal Care inspectors will call attending veterinarians during or after site visits when the veterinarians are absent. The inspectors, who enforce regulations under the Animal Welfare Act, may ask about a client's veterinary care program and have specific questions about, for example, treatment of an animal that is ill or injured, Juarez said in the letter.

"Maintaining programs of adequate veterinary care and employing an attending veterinarian are cornerstones of the AWA regulations," she said. "In fact, facilities must ensure their veterinarians have appropriate authority to oversee the animals' care, and we trust and rely on your opinion."

Veterinarians' answers will help the inspectors ensure animals are receiving adequate care that follows the veterinarians' guidance.

"We know many of you are on the road on a daily basis visiting clients, and we promise to be respectful of your time," Juarez said. "You may also prefer to leave more detailed written records of veterinary care with your facilities so our inspectors can answer most questions by reviewing your paperwork.

"We encourage you to have a conversation with your clients to determine what approach works best."

In the video message Juarez said that, when attending veterinarians are absent from inspections, agency leaders have asked that the inspectors call those veterinarians and have conversations about animal care.

"We want the attending veterinarians to know that the information they provide on behalf of their clients will help us confirm that the animal is receiving adequate care," she said.

Related JAVMA content:

APHIS pulls welfare information from website (April 1, 2017)