Gail C. Golab, PhD, DVM, MANZCVS
Director, Animal Welfare Division
As you are no doubt aware by now, a key subgoal for the "Promote Animal Welfare" goal in the AVMA 2012-2015 Strategic Plan is to "promote veterinarians as authorities and advocates for animal welfare." We've taken that to heart and the theme for our animal welfare-related activity this spring has been 'advocacy and collaboration.'
February found us building on our update to the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia and collaborating with the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to update their Laboratory Animal Regulatory Workbook to achieve consistency with the new Guidelines. The workbook assists those who are learning about laboratory animal science and helps technicians prepare for the AALAS technician examinations. AVMA policy is only as effective as its implementation, and we know that getting appropriate information into the hands of animal caretakers is key to improving animal welfare.
Animal caretakers are not the only ones who need information about animal welfare science. In mid-March Division staff traveled to Yale University to discuss "Euthanasia and Veterinary Professional Ethics" as part of a bimonthly program hosted by Yale's Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. The audience was diverse, hailed from multiple institutions, and included philosophy faculty, biomedical researchers, physicians, and attorneys. This was followed a few days later by an opportunity to work with our Governmental Relations Division and the Academy of Veterinary Consultants in hosting a Lunch-N-Learn for members of Congress and their staff in Washington, DC. The topic of that session was "Animal Welfare and Veterinary Responsibility—Pain Management and Feedlot Production Practices." Not only were we able to share the latest in pain management research, but the ensuing discussion provided an opportunity to advocate for support of the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD). Plans are also in the works to co-sponsor, with the Federation of Animal Science Societies (FASS), a series of webinars on the science of animal welfare as it applies to animal agriculture.
Perhaps the most visible of our recent collaborations is the stepping up of our efforts to stop the ongoing practice of 'soring' gaited horses. Working with the American Association of Equine Practitioners, we've created a factsheet, backgrounder and video; highlighted the issue in JAVMA; reached out to AVMA members, the press and public; and communicated extensively with the USDA on strategies to finally put an end to this unacceptable practice. A dedicated page on the AVMA website provides direct access to related resources.
The volunteer entities served by the Division have been busy as well. The Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) met the last weekend of March and during their meeting began the evaluation of 14 animal welfare policies up for their every-five-year review in 2013. AVMA members are encouraged to provide their thoughts on those policies by visiting the member input area on the animal welfare pages of the AVMA website. Joining us in San Diego for the 2012 Convention? You'll have the opportunity to partake of three full days of animal welfare-specific programming planned by the AWC, including a full day on welfare issues in shelter medicine. And, the Executive Board, during its mid-April meeting, approved a plan from the Panel on Euthanasia to offer a three-day symposium on "Euthanasia, Depopulation, and Humane Slaughter—look for more information about this event, planned for the fall of 2013, in the future issues of Welfare Focus.
As always, if you have questions about what the AVMA is doing, or suggestions about what it should be doing, please don't hesitate to animalwelfareavma [dot] org (contact us). And, remember to visit the AVMA's social media sites (e.g., Facebook, AVMA-at-Work, Twitter) to see what we've been up to and to join the conversation on topics of importance to you.
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