AVMA News; Professional Issues; Global Issues; Veterinary Community

HOD approves two resolutions, defeats two others

AVMA delegates passed two resolutions favoring veterinarian involvement in decisions regarding antimicrobials and defeated two more controversial proposals.

The AVMA House of Delegates acted on the four resolutions during its regular annual session July 29-30 In Atlanta.

The Texas VMA requested a review of the AVMA Council on Education's function of accrediting foreign schools, prompting a robust debate by the House of Delegates. The resolution called on the Executive Board to assign a task force to do a benefit-risk analysis of the council's accreditation of foreign veterinary schools and prepare a report for presentation at the HOD's 2011 regular annual session.

The resolution was defeated by a vote of 61 percent to 39 percent.

The delegates unanimously passed two resolutions, one of which implements a policy favoring veterinary involvement in animal uses of antimicrobials, regardless of whether the drugs were obtained through prescriptions or as over-the-counter purchases. The second new policy states the AVMA should be at the forefront of discussions that could Impact drug availability through regulations.

About 70 percent of delegates voted against a resolution that would have favored requiring the veterinarian-client-patient relationship to be associated with all antimicrobial uses.

AVMA announces new officials, candidacies

Dr. Larry M. Kornegay of Houston assumed the AVMA presidency Aug 3. Five days earlier, the AVMA House of Delegates elected Dr. René A. Carlson of Chetek, Wis., as president-elect and Dr. Jan K. Strother of Hartselle, Ala., as vice president.

Two former AVMA Executive Board members—Drs. Douglas G. Aspros of White Plains, N.Y., and Gary S. Brown of Princeton, W.Va.—have declared their candidacies for 2011 AVMA president-elect.


Dr. Larry M. Kornegay

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 71, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.71.10.1114

Addressing the AVMA House of Delegates July 30 In Atlanta during Its regular annual session, Dr. Kornegay, a companion animal practitioner, said veterinarians have never enjoyed greater respect or wielded more Influence than they do now—yet fractures within the profession have never been more evident.


Dr. René A. Carlson

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 71, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.71.10.1114


Dr. Jan K. Strother

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 71, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.71.10.1114

Dr. Kornegay cited animal welfare, AVMA accreditation of foreign veterinary colleges, and antimicrobial use in animal agriculture as issues that have sparked controversy among veterinarians.

Although veterinarians will disagree on many issues, they must always strive for professional unity through mutual respect, Dr. Kornegay said.

The AVMA board, meeting Aug. 3 In Atlanta, elected a new chair and vice chair and installed a new member.

Dr. John R. Brooks of Kingsville, Md., succeeded Dr. John R. Scamahorn of Greencastle, Ind., as chair of the board. The board's new vice chair is Dr. Theodore J. Cohn of Lone Tree, Colo.

The board also welcomed Dr. John H. de Jong of Weston, Mass., as a new member. Dr. de Jong, a small animal practitioner, succeeds Dr. Aspros as District I representative. District I comprises Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The votes are in for AVMA councils, HAC

In Atlanta, the House of Delegates filled vacancies on AVMA councils and the House Advisory Committee. The results are as follows

Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents

Dr. Ernest R. Rogers, Maplewood, N.J., representing immunology; and

Dr. Michael J. Hodgman, Zumbrota, Minn., representing members-at-large

Council on Education

Dr. Ronald E. Gill, West Salem, Ill., representing private mixed clinical practice; and

Dr. John R. Pascoe, Davis, Calif., representing postgraduate education

Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Brant Schumaker, Davis, Calif., representing members-at-large; and

Dr. Adam J. Langer, Atlanta, representing public health agencies or the armed forces

Council on Research

Drs. Peter Muir, Madison, Wis., and Thomas J. Rosol, Columbus, Ohio, both representing veterinary medica research, predominantly engaged In active research at the time of the election

Council on Veterinary Service

Dr. Karen L. Rosenthal, Philadelphia, representing members-at-large; and

Dr. Nancy E. Turner, Dallas, representing recent graduates

Judicial Council

Dr. H. Michael Chaddock, Washington, D.C., representing members-at-large

House Advisory Committee

Dr. Karen M. Bradley, alternate delegate from Vermont, representing members-at-large;

Dr. David A. Prigel, delegate from Missouri, representing private practice, mixed; and

Dr. Barbara A. Schmidt, delegate from Kentucky, representing private practice, predominantly equine

AVMA convention strikes balance between education and entertainment

Veterinary professionals gathered in Atlanta for the 147th AVMA Annual Convention July 31-Aug. 3.

In the Georgia World Congress Center, located in the heart of downtown Atlanta and a short walk from many of the city's attractions, the exhibit hall housed 262 booths offering an array of veterinary products and services. Many sponsors supported the AVMA convention, notably P3 Partners Hill's Pet Nutrition and Merial.

The AVMA's educational program comprised 1,119 presentations covering a range of veterinary topics for a total of 984 continuing education hours.

Dr. Larry M. Kornegay of Houston officially assumed the AVMA presidency at the convention's end. In his July 30 address to the AVMA House of Delegates, the small animal practitioner called on veterinarians to overcome their disagreements and strive for professional unity through mutual respect.

The Hill's Opening Session July 31 began with presentations of the AVMA Award—the Association's highest honor—to Dr. Leon H. Russell Jr. and the Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Practitioner of the Year to Dr. Kenneth C. Gorczyca.

On July 31, dozens of volunteers helped spruce up Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta and Our Pal's Place in Marietta as part of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's third annual Our Oath in Action shelter rehabilitation project.

AVMA members heard about the latest AVMA initiatives and posed questions to the Association's leaders and staff during AVMA Live—a town hall-type forum held twice during convention. The AVMA Advocacy series focused on the need for veterinarians to engage in the legislative process at the federal and state levels, while at the fifth annual Veterinary Diversity Symposium, strategies for making the veterinary profession more inclusive were discussed.

Haiti's head veterinarian, Dr. Max Millien, spoke at the Global Opportunities in One Health workshop about his country's long struggle with rabies and other animal health issues.

In-depth coverage of the AVMA Annual Convention and House of Delegates appears in the News section of the Sept. 15, Oct. 1, and Oct. 15 issues of JAVMA, which are already or will soon be available online at www.avma.org

Corwin promotes conservation with pageant of ‘amazing creatures’

Wildlife biologist and anthropologist Jeff Corwin displayed a menagerie of wildlife, including a 6-foot-long American alligator and a 100-pound alligator snapping turtle, to convey his messages of responsible pet ownership and wildlife habitat preservation at the Hill's Opening Session July 31 during the AVMA Annual Convention in Atlanta.

Abandonment and improper husbandry are big problems in the United States, he said. Without homes for the affected creatures, the situation becomes even more unfortunate not only for the former pets but also for wildlife.

He gave the example of boa constrictors and other nonnative snakes found in the Florida Everglades that have been released by irresponsible owners. Now hundreds of thousands of them are consuming native wildlife, Corwin said.

After more than 10 years on television, Corwin has most recently been working as the science and environmental correspondent for NBC. He primarily has reported on the response to the environmental disaster arising from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

For the past few months, Corwin has witnessed efforts to locate, rehabilitate, and release some of the more than 400 species that have been put in peril by the oil spill. The sea turtle population has been particularly devastated. Out of a total 10,000 specimens, about 500 adults have died since the oil spill began.

Great portions of the affected wildlife remain in captivity, however, because they can't be released back into a toxic environment. And habitat, he said, is the big secret to saving any endangered species.

“If you maintain and protect wild places and keep them healthy and clean, then you'll have wildlife,” Corwin said.

If anything can be learned from the oil spill, he said, it is that radica changes are necessary, and part of that transformation will be lessening the dependence on fossil fuels for energy.

AVMA recognizes contributions to profession

Dr. Leon H. Russell Jr. of Texas A&M University received the 2010 AVMA Award at the AVMA Annual Convention during the July 31 opening session. The Association's highest honor recognizes contributions to organized veterinary medicine. Dr. Russell served as president of the World Veterinary Association in 2005-2008 and as president of the AVMA in 1993–1994.

The AVMA also presented the following additional awards during the opening session and the Aug. 3 President's Installation Luncheon:

  • Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award—Dr. Kenneth C. Gorczyca, who has worked for decades to help AIDS patients keep their pets

  • AVMA Animal Welfare Award—Dr. Thomas R. Lenz, past chair of the Unwanted Horse Coalition and past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners

  • Charles River Prize—Dr. Melvin W. Balk, executive director of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine and developer of the Charles River Annual Short Course on laboratory animal science

  • AVMA Humane Award—Kathryn W. Warnick, president of the Humane Society of Missouri and co-founder of Pet Shelters Across America

  • Karl F. Meyer—James H. Steele Gold Head Cane Award—Dr Paul L. Nicoletti, University of Florida professor emeritus who contributed to the control of brucellosis; Dr. Alfonso Torres, assistant dean for public policy at Cornell University's veterinary college and past deputy administrator for Veterinary Services at the Department of Agriculture

  • AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award—Dr. Gerald E. Bisgard, researcher in respiratory physiology and founding chairman of the Department of Comparative Biosciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison veterinary school

  • AVMA Practitioner Research Award—Dr. Timothy C. McCarthy of Surgical Specialty Clinic for Animals, Beaverton, Ore., who pioneered the application of numerous minimally invasive endoscopie techniques

  • AVMA Public Service Award—Dr. Lisa A. Conti, director of the Division of Environmental Health at the Florida Department of Health and past Florida state public health veterinarian

  • XII International Veterinary Congress Prize—Dr. Gary A. Vroegindewey, colonel in the Army Veterinary Corps and director of Department of Defense Veterinary Service Activity

  • Student AVMA Teaching Excellence Award—Dr Mark D. Freeman, assistant professor at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine

  • Student AVMA Community Outreach Excellence Award—Dr. Michael R. Moyer, who directs the program in shelter medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

  • AVMF/AKC Career Achievement Award in Canine Research—Dr George E. Lees, Texas A&M University professor who studies canine hereditary nephropathy and directs the Texas Veterinary Renal Pathology Service

  • AVMF/Winn Feline Foundation Research Award—Leslie A. Lyons, PhD, who helped organize the Feline Genome Project at the National Cancer Institute and now studies feline genetics at the University of California

  • AVMA President's Award

  • • Dr. Gary C. Bullard, who represented Georgia for 15 years in the AVMA House of Delegates

  • • Dr. Jack O. Walther, past president of the AVMA and of the Western Veterinary Conference

  • • J.B. Hancock, director of the AVMA Communications Division, who oversees staff activities ranging from marketing and media relations to professional and public communications

    More details about the award recipients are available at www.avma.org in the Sept. 15 and Oct. 1 issues of JAVMA News.

AVMF announces Gulf Coast Pet Relief Program

A new program will help reimburse veterinary clinics near the Gulf of Mexico that provide free services for pets belonging to people suffering financially because of the oil spill.

The program also will provide pet food to some of the animal shelters in the region that have seen relinquishments resulting from the hardships of the oil spill.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation partnered with Hill's Pet Nutrition and Merial's Paws to Save Pets program to create the Gulf Coast Pet Relief Program. The AVMF announced the new program in early August at the AVMA Annual Convention.

The pet relief program, which falls under the AVMF Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund, will initially provide $145,000 worth of funding and food to 90 veterinary clinics and five shelters in the Gulf region.

Neil Thompson, Hill's chief executive officer, said his company earned that the oil spill was indirectly affecting pets after receiving reports of relinquishments from shelters that receive donations of Hill's pet food.

Dr. Mary A. Bryant, Merial director of professional affairs, agreed that pets are among the victims of the disaster. Merial started its Paws to Save Pets program after Hurricane Katrina to help pets affected by disasters.

Michael Cathey, AVMF executive director, noted that the AVMF has heard from other potential partners for the Gulf Coast Pet Relief Program.

Information about the program is available at www.avmf.org/qulfcoastpetrelief. The fact sheet on the website lists veterinary clinics and animal shelters receiving support through the program. The website also includes the criteria and an application for additional clinics seeking assistance.

Students make changes with eye to the future

Most of the hundreds of students at the AVMA Annual Convention in Atlanta attended lectures and toured the exhibit hall. And of those, more than 70 met for the biannual Student AVMA House of Delegates session Aug. 1-2.

Every U.S. veterinary school and college—along with Ross University, St. George's University, and St. Matthew's University—sent delegates to Atlanta to discuss topics that ranged from bylaws changes to long-term goals of the organization to budget-cutting measures.

The SAVMA delegates voted to combine standing committees with similar charges, merging 10 committees into seven.

The SAVMA HOD voted to approve new bylaws and dissolve the previous SAVMA Constitution, resulting in a more comprehensive set of governance documents that are expected to endure to the next generation of student leaders.

SAVMA delegates and Executive Board members made a concerted effort to balance the student association's budget for the upcoming year. With the savings, committees reallocated funds toward scholarships, educational grants, and travel stipends for members.

Education council schedules site visits

The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to four schools and colleges of veterinary medicine for the remainder of 2010.

Comprehensive site visits are planned for the University of Saskatchewan Western College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 3-7; Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 24-28; Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Nov. 7-11; and Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dec. 5-9.

The council welcomes written comments on these plans or the programs to be evaluated. Comments should be addressed to Dr. David E. Granstrom, Director, Education and Research Division, AVMA, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360. Comments must be signed by the person submitting them to be considered.

Speakers share strategies to increase diversity

Speakers at the sixth annual Veterinary Diversity Symposium Aug. 2 at the AVMA Annual Convention in Atlanta touched on past and present situations in veterinary medicine as well as what the dental and medical professions have done to promote diversity.

Gregory Strayhorn, MD, professor of family medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, said affirmative action efforts resulted in a slight increase in the number of black applicants to medical schools from 1974-1980 but that progress came to a halt when the schools encountered egal challenges related to concerns about the use of quotas.

Dr. Strayhorn said a gradual rebound in minority admissions is happening currently. That's because medical schools began looking in the past decade at alternatives to quotas to encourage diversity. They created programs to facilitate entry to medical education, aiming to help minority students overcome poor academic preparation.

Plus, admissions policies were modified—implicitly or otherwise—to consider noncognitive factors. This allowed admissions committees to take a more holistic approach, he said, and look at other achievements and other potential these students had, to predict their success in medical school.

The American Dental Education Association has also seen success after it began working with dental school admission committees to show them the benefits of holistic admissions policies. As a result, 24 of 26 schools that have gone through the workshops have shown dramatic increases in the enrollment of minority students, said W. David Brunson, DDS, associate director of the Center for Equity and Diversity with the ADEA.

In addition, the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation approved in July revised accreditation standards that include a standard for diversity. It dictates that dental schools must have a diversity initiative and is accompanied by an intent statement for how to accomplish this.

Dr. Evan M. Morse, moderator of the symposium, gave a talk on the business case for diversity and how a diverse workforce will better understand ways to create and serve a diverse client base.

Implementing diversity changes within a practice need not be difficult. The first step can be as simple as declaring an intention to do so, he said. From there, a veterinary practice's diversity initiatives should be made evident in its communication efforts.

Inclusive practices, Dr. Morse said, have a wider talent pool from which to recruit, firsthand knowledge and understanding of emerging markets, an ability to recognize and target these emerging markets, enhanced community relationships, and increased revenue.

Haiti's head veterinarian details nation's struggles, hopes

Despite substantial challenges to maintaining the animal health infrastructure in Haiti, particularly following the devastating earthquake Jan 12, the country's head veterinarian remains hopeful.

Dr. Max Millien, director of animal health with Haiti's Ministry of Agriculture, said assistance from foreign agencies will help the country improve its animal health infrastructure.

He spoke at the Global Opportunities in One Health workshop Aug 1 during the AVMA Annual Convention in Atlanta. In an interview with JAVMA News he said the country has long struggled with animal health issues, particularly disease outbreaks.

In 1995, the number of dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies totaled only 30,000 among the hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats that populate the country. A renewed focus on preventing the transmission of rabies began in 2007, a year after 29 human deaths resulting from rabies were reported.

The ministry developed the Animal Health Groups program, which has a presence in all 565 rural sections of the country. Each group constitutes about 25 animal producers and two or three veterinary agents who have taken a seven-week training course that teaches them about subjects such as animal pathology and epidemiology.

This year the agriculture ministry has vaccinated 455,000 dogs and cats against rabies, yet success has been tempered by the fact that more than 40 people have contracted the disease.

What little animal health infrastructure existed before the beginning of this year was nearly shattered following the natural disaster. A public veterinary clinic, laboratory, quarantine posts, and a school for veterinary technicians no longer stand as a result of the earthquake. It also caused many veterinarians and veterinary technicians to leave the country and resulted in a shortage of veterinary drugs and equipment for those who remained.

But Dr. Millien considers the earthquake not as a setback but as an opportunity to improve the country's veterinary infrastructure. He also finds hope in the sort of collaboration happening between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti.

ARCH and Haiti's Veterinary Services have joined forces to produce a plan and help with recovery efforts at a cost of approximately $1 million.

Together, they will be instituting use of mobile veterinary clinics, training Haitian veterinarians and veterinary health workers to address welfare problems, restoring appropriate vaccine storage conditions to allow for effective vaccination campaigns, conducting a dog population study to better inform coalition work, promoting local interest in animal welfare, and repairing laboratory infrastructure ruined during the earthquake.

Veterinary scholars symposium showcases student research

Dr. Kan J. Ekenstedt was honored with the Young Investigators Award at the 2010 Merial-National Institutes of Health National Veterinary Scholars Symposium, held Aug. 5-8 at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in Athens. The award, sponsored by the AVMA and American Veterinary Medical Foundation, goes to a graduate veterinarian pursuing advanced research training through a doctoral or postdoctoral program.


Dr. Kari J. Ekenstedt

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 71, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.71.10.1114

Dr. Ekenstedt, along with her team at the University of Minnesota, discovered two chromosomal regions that have a strong association with Leonberger polyneuropathy. They have already identified one gene mutation and hope to find the other soon.

Out of 35 applicants, Dr. Ekenstedt was one of five Young Investigator finalists invited to attend the symposium and present his or her work as a 15-minute platform talk.

In addition, the 10th annual symposium capped off summer training programs across the United States and Canada that introduce veterinary students to biomedical research. This year marked the first time the conference welcomed European veterinary scholars from international summer programs supported by Merial. About 360 students presented posters; 18 students were recognized for their presentations in various areas of veterinary medicine.

A cadre of speakers during plenary sessions rounded out the symposium's events, giving talks on this year's theme, “Beyond One Health.” In all, 402 people attended the event.

Sponsors of the symposium were Merial, The National Institutes of Health, the Burroughs Welcome Fund, the AVMA, the AVMF, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, and other veterinary professional organizations.

More information on the symposium speakers and a list of all Young Investigators and poster session award winners is available at www.veterinaryscholar.org/symposium2010.php.