AVMA nails down strategy, passes welfare initiatives


SCHAUMBURG, ILL.—The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) ranks animal welfare as a top strategic interest for the next three years.

SCHAUMBURG, ILL.-The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) ranks animal welfare as a top strategic interest for the next three years.

That's according to an Executive Board summary of its November meeting, which also determined economic viability, veterinary service, manpower and education issues are of equal importance to the association.

But whether its position statements or pain directives, animal welfare is clearly at work within AVMA's affairs. In addition to creating a Division of Animal Welfare as well as the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (see related story, p. 1), board members approved a number of welfare initiatives, including a position statement that takes the middle ground on the controversy surrounding managed feral cat colonies.

"The solutions to the free-roaming and feral cat problem are multi-factored and was often misinterpreted with our previous statement," says Dr. Gail Golab, the group's assistant director of professional and public affairs. "We do not oppose or endorse managed cat colonies."

Welfare agenda

Executive board members updated the group's Dog and Cat Population Control statement to reflect non-surgical sterilization procedures, and they opposed the removal or reduction of dogs' teeth as a treatment for aggression.

"The welfare of the patient may be adversely affected because the animal is subjected to dental procedures that are painful, invasive and do not address the problem," the position states.

By contrast, board member did not approve a recommendation to establish an AVMA Panel on Assessment and Alleviation of Pain and Distress in Animals.

"I thought it was a mistake not to approve that," says Dr. Bill Folger, an Animal Welfare Committee member. "But the pain and distress task force would have been bigger than any other group. It would have been multi-species, thereby requiring a minimum of 15 to 20 people and taken at least three years to figure out. It was complicated and endless."

Council on Research directives

Where pain control drugs are concerned, Executive Board approved sending a letter to the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine stating AVMA believes the government should prohibit placebo, control studies for the assessment and approval of medicines where there are already FDA-approved products available. They also want FDA "to require that only positive controls be used in these prospective randomized parallel or crossover dose studies."

The Council on Research, which proposed the FDA initiative, also asked AVMA to sponsor a $5,000 symposium at the University of Georgia and a seminar being developed by the National Coalition for Food Agricultural Research. The symposium was approved; the seminar was not.

The following is a synopsis of other AVMA Executive Board actions:

Action re: Judicial Council:

  • Reaffirmation of the position statement Product Advertising.

  • Updated position statement Prevention and Resolution of Grievances.

  • Reaffirmation of the position statement Patenting of Veterinary Medical and Surgical Procedures.

  • Updated position statement Veterinary Degrees.

Action re: Council on Veterinary Service

  • Position statement Veterinary Facility Occupational Risks for Pregnant Workers.

  • Reaffirmation of the position statement AVMA Position on Veterinary Dentistry.

  • The dissemination of (non-AVMA-produced) information related to defending the need for a veterinary-client-patient relationship to all interested regulatory agencies and AVMA entities.(Failed)

  • Rescinding the position statement Packaging of Diagnostic Specimens.

Action re: Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine

  • Disestablishment of the liaison with the U.S. delegation to the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Codex Task Force on Animal Feeding.

  • The revised model Animal Euthanasia Authorization Policy.

  • The reaffirmation of the policy Continuing Education in Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine.

  • Rescinding the policy on pet foods.

Action re: Council on Biologic & Therapeutic Agents

  • Support for and encouragement of the USDA APHIS Center for Veterinary Biologics to assume jurisdiction for the regulation of animal biologics that impact food safety.

  • Inclusion of AVMA's name in a jointly developed (Animal Health Institute/American Veterinary Distributors/AVMA) educational brochure on veterinary compounding.

Action re: Governance Performance Review Committee

  • Sunset of the Screening Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance at the end of 2004-2005 association year.

  • Sunset of the Committee on Veterinary Medical Informatics at the end of 2004-2005 association year.

Action re: Council on Public Relations

  • Funding $40,000 for a 4,300-unit increase in distribution for the AVMA video and CD-ROM "Companion Dedicated to Service: A Career in Veterinary Medicine in 2005."

  • A revision to Bylaws Article V, Section I, which changes the name of the Council on Public Relations to the Council on Communications.

  • Participation in the National Public Broadcasting Service, "Learning About ... Pets" series.

Action re: Legislative Advisory Committee

  • A $65,000 annual stipend for the AVMA Congressional and Executive Branch Fellowships beginning in August 2005.

  • Directing the Governmental Relations Division to be proactive in its education efforts to congressional offices, regulatory agencies and veterinarians addressing compounding from bulk drugs in order to preserve the safety and efficacy protections of the animal drug approval process and those privileges granted to the veterinary profession by the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act (AMDUCA).

Action re: Committee on Environmental Issues

  • An updated position statement on animal agriculture waste management.(Failed)

  • A revised position statement on free-roaming and abandoned feral cats. (Failed)

Action re: Animal Agricultural Liaison Committee

  • AVMA support for the USDA proposal to create a performance standard for accredited veterinarians performing caudal fold tuberculosis testing.

  • Co-sponsorship of the 2005 National Institute for Animal Agriculture annual meeting.

Action re: Steering Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance

  • Revisions to the policy Basic Guidelines of Judicious Therapeutic Use of Antimicrobials in Pork Production.

  • Revisions to the policy National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System.

  • Revisions to the policy AVMA Strategy Regarding Antimicrobial-Resistant bacteria.

  • Rescinding the policy Database on Judicious Antimicrobial Use.

  • Rescinding the policy statement regarding endorsement of the concept of species- specific judicious use of antimicrobials.

Action re: Committee on Disaster and Emergency Issues

  • Rescinding the current position statement National Wildlife Contingency Plan.

  • In concept, the AVMA Emergency Management Program Strategic Plan.

  • Rescinding the AVMA Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan.

Action re: AVMA/Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

  • Establishing an AVMA/AAVMC Task Force on Veterinary Infrastructure in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Action re: Task Force on State Legislative and Regulatory Issues

  • Creating two additional positions in the Communications Division department responsible for public affairs. (Failed)

  • Funding for Web-based application services in the amount of $8,400 that will enable AVMA to more effectively identify and track state legislative and regulatory proposals of importance to the veterinary medical profession and to support grassroots efforts.

  • Sunset of the Task Force on State Legislative and Regulatory Initiatives.

Action re: Recommendations from the President's address to the HOD

  • Establishment of a Division of Animal Welfare and authorization for the creation of five new staff positions, at least two of which will be filled by veterinarians. The charge of this Division shall be to monitor the science of animal welfare and assist AVMA in proactively addressing developing issues of animal welfare and rights groups.

  • A policy on diversity as follows: The AVMA is committed to diversity in all aspects of the profession so that we can best serve the animals and public. This commitment to diversity pertains to professional areas or service and to cultural, ethnic, gender and racial representations.

Action re: Recommendations from officers/executive board members

  • Additional funds ($600,000) to remodel and refurbish the AVMA Washington, D.C. office building.

Directing staff to draft policy for consideration by the Executive Board that addresses the removal of an individual from an AVMA entity due to conflicts of interest, ineffectiveness or other reasons for the good of AVMA as a whole or for the good of the specific entity.

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