Resolutions question disaster spending


Schaumburg, Ill. - American Veterinary Medical Association delegates will face three resolutions calling on association leaders to curb non-budgeted association spending following criticism of disaster relief donations.

SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — American Veterinary Medical Association delegates will face three resolutions calling on association leaders to curb non-budgeted association spending following criticism of disaster relief donations.

Resolution 1 submitted by the California, Oregon and Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Associations, resolves the AVMA to determine if charitable giving is part of the organization's mission. Two other similar resolutions ask that the association establish a reserve policy in regard to liquid assets and develop a limit on non-budgeted spending.

"This goes back to 2005 when contributions were made to tsunami relief," explains Glenn Kolb, executive director, Oregon Veterinary Medical Association. "Is this policy part of AVMA's mission? If so, it's not listed as part of the mission. This is a practical business matter to address."

In regard to the association's reserve policy, the VMAs submitting these resolutions want AVMA to explain its rationale.

"This will be a healthy discussion to inform the members," Kolb adds.

In regard to donations, OVMA asks: "If the association is going to donate, what is the limit? How will this money be used? Is there a cap on the amount that can be donated?

"We are just asking the question about non-budgeted spending," Kolb says. "There is no animosity, we just want it to lead to a healthy discussion."

Animal welfare

For the third year, AVMA leaders will debate a resolution calling on AVMA to place a higher priority on animal welfare issues.

In a petition by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR), Resolution 4 questions AVMA's leadership on animal welfare matters and underscores a need to place animal welfare above economic consideration. The resolution states: "Veterinarians have an ethical obligation to promote animal welfare."

"We are blatantly asking AVMA, 'What is more important, animal welfare or money?'" says Gene Bauston, president of Farm Sanctuary. "I think AVMA needs to do some self-evaluations to determine what its goals are. So far, the AVMA's adopted resolutions reflect the interest of money from agricultural industries as opposed to the welfare of animals."

Resolution 7 asks AVMA to oppose the practice of mechanical force-feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras because of the adverse effects on the birds' health and welfare. This is the third consecutive year the issue of foie gras will be presented to delegates.

"The practice of force-feeding these animals is an unacceptable form of animal cruelty," Bauston contends. Some veterinarians are opposed to the notion.

In 2005, Dr. Robert Gordon led the defeat of an anti-foie gras initiative recounting a visit to one of the nation's three foie gras production facilities.

"My impression has not changed. I'm glad to see other leaders of the profession have done the same on-sight research I did. Our role is to provide for animal welfare, and I guess my real concern is that by making a statement pro or con, members of the public, media and animal rights organizations will be looking to paint us in a negative light. I don't think we need to be forced into that corner."

On decision-making

Resolution 6, initiated by the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association (WVMA), asks that the AVMA's January Leadership Conference be considered an official business session, axing the term "informational assembly." The change is believed to help expedite decision making.

"Once a year is not enough to decide on these issues," says Leslie Grendahl, executive director WVMA. "We believe there is no reason to waste the time of AVMA members, and meeting to just discuss issues with no outcome is a waste of veterinarians' time and money."

The change would create a streamlined House of Delegate (HOD) agenda. Six additional states already have expressed their agreement with Wisconsin.

"I think this will pass," Grendahl says. "The delegates want to do meaningful work. Once it is presented that many VMAs believe time is being wasted, it will stop."

Administrative issues

The other resolutions slated for 2006 have been described as administrative.

"The resolutions further document that the AVMA leadership must clearly define the roles of our various entities," Gordon says. "Many people feel the role of the House of Delegates should be one of policy-making and not be involved suggesting or dictating administrative policy."

Resolution 5, submitted by the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA), urges AVMA to suggest USDA-APHIS to implement ongoing training programs for accredited veterinarians in the United States.

Considering veterinarians are the first line of defense in an animal disease outbreak or emergency, veterinarians' knowledge will be a necessity to maintain the public's health and safety, IVMA officials report.

Dr. John Schnarr, Indiana delegate, says the intent of this resolution is not focused on reaccreditation or mandatory continuing education, it is simply designed for periodic recertification of knowledge of the threats out there.

"We want the AVMA to encourage the USDA to move forward with training accredited DVMs in a timely manner in order to stay current on the diseases out there," Schnarr says. "In the past few years in Indiana, we have had Monkey Pox and Hemorrhagic Rabbit Fever, things we never thought would happen."

Enabling the resolution, is part one of a two-part process, Schnarr says.

"Moving forward to keep veterinarians informed is a necessity for public safety," he adds.

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