Advocacy, education, diversity top AVMA agenda


Seattle -- Dr. Larry Corry, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, wants to re-establish veterinarians as leaders in animal welfare.


-- Dr. Larry Corry, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, wants to re-establish veterinarians as leaders in animal welfare.

Thomas McPheron/AVMA

AVMA President Dr. Larry Corry talks to AVMA Executive Director Ron DeHaven at July's AVMA Convention in Seattle.

"We must be the go-to group when issues come up about animals so we can provide science-based expertise," Corry told the AVMA House of Delegates in July.

From staving off PETA protests to taking on the Humane Society of the United States over equine slaughter, animal welfare remains an area of advocacy that is highly visible, emotionally charged and just as political.But it's only one area of a packed association agenda vying to address a multitude of issues like the economic viability of its practitioners, upholding educational standards for veterinary schools and helping to solve shortages of veterinarians in underserved areas.

"You might think that in tough times some of those things might get ignored," Corry says. "I can assure you that going forward, you'll see advances every day."

Chief among the organization's advocacy work, Corry explains, is the newly relaunched AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network (CAN). He touted the fact that AVMA representatives testified five times before Congress in 2008 and twice already in 2009.

AVMA expanded its presence at law schools, too, Corry says, in order to give the veterinary industry's perspective on crucial animal-law issues.

"Some of [these lawyers] one day will be judges who may be deciding our future," he says. "So we're making inroads informing law students on issues like [pet] guardianship and non-economic damages."

AVMA's animal-welfare outreach goes beyond law schools, however. The organization is surveying veterinarians, veterinary students and the public to assess attitudes about animal welfare so "we can craft the messages we need to convey our policies and guidelines," he says.

AVMA also is focused on "the economic viability and sustainability" of the profession. The association is working with the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues to craft new ways to measure financial success for veterinarians and lobbying Congress with the American Association of Federal Veterinarians to address salary inequities among veterinarians in federal jobs and in the Armed Forces.

To combat a shortage of veterinarians, especially food-animal doctors, the AVMA helped secure $2.95 million of funding in 2008 in the National Veterinary Medical Services Act to "alleviate the loan/debt burden" of veterinarians and allow more doctors to practice in underserved geographic and professional areas, Corry says.

In addition, animal scientists, human doctors and veterinarians launched the One Health Commission in July, Corry reports. The group "pledges to work toward integration of all health sciences to make this a healthier world," he adds.

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