As a veterinarian, I am the first to admit that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the organization purported to represent the interests of all veterinarians in the U.S., is not always a leader when it comes to animal rights and welfare issues. From my viewpoint, the group’s reluctance to take the lead on issues of humane treatment of animals casts a large shadow on all veterinarians.
There are many types of veterinarians out there–including those associated with slaughterhouses, public health (inspecting our food), laboratory animals, small animals, and research–and the AVMA has tried to be all things to all veterinarians. It has often found itself in the middle of fierce conflicts where, rather than rocking the boat by taking the moral high ground, it has often avoided addressing the issues. Where the interests of animals have conflicted with those of industry, the animals have usually lost. Some that come to mind include the following:
In virtually every publicized opportunity to improve the lot of animals, the AVMA is either very late to the party or chooses not to attend at all.
Yet I see recent trends suggesting that veterinarians are paying more attention to these issues and are pressuring the AVMA to step up to the plate and take the lead on animal welfare issues. Take a look at the following examples:
Most veterinarians are compassionate people who are naturally concerned with the welfare of all animals. The public and animal organizations look to us for guidance and expect us to manifest this concern not only by caring for sick and injured animals but also by acting as leaders in being better stewards of the animals with whom we share the planet.
I am encouraged by recent changes in the AVMA and challenge it to continue to listen to the calls for real change when it comes to animal welfare and rights.
Make your time with your friends and family—including your animal companions—even more meaningful.