The decline in the frequency of veterinary visits for cats and dogs in the United States is posing a risk to pet health, according to the new Partnership for Preventive Pet Healthcare.
The AVMA, American Animal Hospital Association, and 14 other organizations announced the pet health partnership July 18 at the AVMA Annual Convention.
The new partnership is planning a multiyear initiative to promote preventive care for pets within the veterinary community and to pet owners. The AVMA and AAHA have started by developing Preventive Healthcare Guidelines for cats and dogs, which were published in the Sept. 1 issue of JAVMA and are available online at http://avmajournals.avma.org.
According to the AVMA's 2007 U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, dogs averaged 1.5 veterinary visits in 2006, down from a mean of 1.9 visits in 2001. Cats averaged 0.7 veterinary visits in 2006, down from a mean of one visit in 2001.
Fifty-one percent of practice owners reported a decrease in patient visits in the past two years, according to the recent Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study.
The study also found that 24 percent of pet owners think routine checkups are unnecessary. Yet, 59 percent of dog owners and 53 percent of cat owners say they would take their pet to the veterinarian more often if they believed that doing so would help their pet live longer.
A coalition of veterinary associations, industry, and academia met in November 2010 to discuss the trends. The coalition has become the Partnership for Preventive Pet Healthcare. In addition to the AVMA and AAHA, the partnership currently consists of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and 13 animal health companies.
The mission of the partnership is “to ensure that pets receive the preventive healthcare they deserve through regular visits to a veterinarian.” The vision of the partnership is to improve the overall health of pets.
To begin, the AVMA and AAHA created a task force to develop the new Preventive Healthcare Guidelines. The task force consolidated existing resources to provide one page of guidelines for dogs and one page of guidelines for cats.
The next step is for the pet health partnership to provide additional tools to help veterinary practices promote preventive care. The final phase will be to reach out to pet owners.
Dr. René A. Carlson of Chetek, Wis., assumed the AVMA presidency July 19. On July 15, the AVMA House of Delegates elected Dr. Douglas G. Aspros of Pound Ridge, N.Y., as the 2011–2012 AVMA president-elect.
Dr. Clark K. Fobian of Sedalia, Mo., announced his candidacy for AVMA 2012–2013 president-elect. Additionally, Drs. James E. Smallwood of Raleigh, N.C., and Walter R. Threlfall of Powell, Ohio, kicked off their campaigns for the Association's vice presidency. The winner will succeed Dr. Jan K. Strother of Hartselle, Ala., who is AVMA vice president for 2010–2012.
Addressing the AVMA HOD in St. Louis July 15 during its regular annual session, Dr. Carlson said the veterinary profession can realize transformative change by immediately addressing three areas identified in the AVMA Strategic Plan: economics, education, and governance.
High educational debt, inadequate pay, and decreased veterinary visits are destabilizing the profession's economic viability, Dr. Carlson said, adding that the AVMA Executive Board is already at work to address these problems.
Dr. Carlson called on the AVMA and Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges to continue their efforts to improve the delivery of veterinary education. The North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium report, expected to be published soon, can be a guide to transform veterinary education, she said.
The AVMA should adopt a more open and engaged leadership structure, according to Dr. Carlson. The Association she envisions is one that is “more interactive and program-based for the benefit of members and the public; one that will engage and empower its members to be the authorities and leaders on issues of veterinary medicine; one that is fully engaged globally.”
The AVMA Executive Board, meeting July 19 in St. Louis, elected a chair and vice chair and seated three new board members. Dr. Ted Cohn of Lone Tree, Colo., was elected board chair, and District V representative Dr. Janver D. Krehbiel of Mason, Mich., was elected vice chair.
In addition, Dr. Barbara A. Schmidt of Union, Ky., succeeded Dr. Bret D. Marsh as AVMA treasurer, and Drs. Mark P. Helfat of Lumberton, N.J., and Chester L. “Chet” Rawson of Markesan, Wis., were welcomed as the new District II and District VI representatives, respectively.
HOD acts on global, governance, policy, and bylaws issues
AVMA delegates approved resolutions seeking evaluations of the AVMA's roles in global affairs and of its governance structure.
The House of Delegates voted in July to recommend that the Executive Board form a task force to examine the impact of the Council on Education's accreditation of foreign veterinary schools and that the board direct AVMA staff to draft a report for members on the AVMA's roles and expenses in international activities. VMAs from Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah proposed the evaluation of accreditation. The Arizona and California VMAs had raised concerns about AVMA resources spent on international activities, and the Executive Board and House Advisory Committee proposed creation of a staff report rather than adding duties to the accreditation-related task force.
The delegates also approved a resolution calling for the board to establish a task force to evaluate AVMA's governance structure. That resolution was approved instead of a proposal from the New Jersey VMA to have a task force evaluate the role and relevance of a House of Delegates that currently meets twice yearly. The delegates also voted down a proposal from the Connecticut VMA to designate as “interim”—pending delegates' concurrance—any Executive Board actions that change policies related to veterinary medicine.
The House of Delegates also edited all facility definitions in the AVMA policy “Guidelines for Classifying Veterinary Facilities.” The changes include providing separate guidance for “referral facilities” and “specialty facilities” and separating the guidance for the terms “hospital,” “clinic,” and “center.”
The policy “Free Roaming, Owned Cats” was changed to stop encouraging cat owners in urban and suburban areas to keep their cats indoors, instead encouraging veterinarians to educate people about the dangers of allowing cats to roam freely outdoors.
Delegates also approved AVMA Bylaws amendments that allow veterinarians to gain AVMA membership through endorsement by a veterinary specialty organization; clarify the roles of the AVMA president and presidentelect in AVMA entities to indicate they are invited to participate without votes on all entities reporting to the Executive Board, except the Judicial Council; exclude the president and presidentelect from participation in the Council on Education; update the charge of the Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine; clarify language on grounds for discipline of AVMA members; and clarify the handling of officer vacancies.
The votes are in for AVMA councils, HAC
In St. Louis, 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
Drs. Jane G. Owens, Indianapolis, representing pharmacology; and Margie D. Lee, Watkinsville, Ga., representing microbiology
Council on Education
Drs. L. Garry Adams, College Station, Texas, representing basic science; John R. Scamahorn, Greencastle, Ind., representing private clinical practice; and Philip H. Kass, Davis, Calif., representing veterinary preventive medicine
Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine
Drs. Kendra E. Stauffer, Hawthorne, Fla.; and Mary Grace Stobierski, East Lansing, Mich., representing public health agencies or the armed forces
Council on Research
Dr. Harm HogenEsch, West Lafayette, Ind., representing veterinary medical research, predominantly engaged in active research at the time of the election
Council on Veterinary Service
Dr. Paul E. Cook, Atwater, Calif., representing private practice, exclusively food animal
Dr. Linda K. Lord, Columbus, Ohio, representing members-at-large
House Advisory Committee
Drs. Daniel E. Lafontaine, Bel Air, Md., representing federal or state government; Benjamin Franklin, Roaring Gap, N.C., representing private practice, predominantly equine; and J.V. Bollar, Soda Springs, Idaho, representing private practice, mixed with several species of animals, including food animal or equine and small companion animal
AVMA Annual Convention attracts thousands of attendees
About 8,800 attendees convened July 16–19 in St. Louis for four full days of education, exhibits, and events during the 2011 AVMA Annual Convention.
Many sponsors supported the 2011 convention—notably Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. and Merial, the AVMA's P3 Partners, as well as Bayer Animal Health.
Among various new technologies, the AVMA introduced radio-frequency identification chips in convention-goers' badges to track continuing education. Attendees may print CE certificates by visiting www.avmaconvention.org.
The convention program began with the opening session, sponsored by Hill's. Philippe Cousteau Jr., grandson of aquatic explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, shared experiences from his nature expeditions (see next story).
The educational program this year offered more than 600 sessions. The Beyond the Basics sessions were back for a third year. New for 2011 were Inside the Issues and Hot Topics sessions.
The convention featured a celebration of World Veterinary Year, including a symposium on contributions of veterinarians to global health. 2011 is the 250th anniversary of the founding of the first veterinary school in Lyon, France.
The exhibit hall housed hundreds of booths. This year, convention-goers could earn two hours of CE credit for spending time with exhibitors discussing how various services and products can impact the clinical care of patients.
Convention entertainment included a night at the St. Louis Zoo in support of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, with premier sponsor Nestle Purina; a concert by the Plain White T's, sponsored by Merial; and Sunday Night Live, sponsored by Bayer Animal Health.
Convention participants gave back to the St. Louis community with the Convention to Community events and other efforts.
Dozens of convention-goers spruced up area animal shelters as part of the AVMF Our Oath in Action Shelter Rehab project, with Hill's as the premier partner.
Proceeds from the AVMF Trails for Tails 5K Walk/Run, with partners Abbott Animal Health and MyVeterinarian.com, benefited area animal shelters and AVMF animal welfare programs.
In-depth coverage of the AVMA Annual Convention and House of Delgates is available at www.avma.org in the Sept. 1 and 15 issues of JAVMA News.
Cousteau: We all have an echo
“I'm thrilled to be here, certainly in a room with kindred spirits committed to animal welfare like myself, of course,” keynoter Philippe Cousteau Jr., a champion of the environment and conservation, said July 16 at the AVMA Annual Convention opening session sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc.
People must keep their eyes open, Cousteau said. He described how his famous grandfather, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, dreamed as a young man of becoming a pilot until an automobile accident forced him to change course. Swimming in the Mediterranean every day during his recovery opened his eyes to nature and led him to co-invent the scuba tank.
“Learning about AVMA … you share this idea of looking at the world in a different way, especially (through) ‘one health,’” Cousteau said.
“We are all connected. We all have an echo in the world around us,” he said. That's why Cousteau and his sister, Alexandra, named the nonprofit they founded EarthEcho International. Its mission is to empower youth to protect the planet's water.
Today a billion people don't have fresh water, and the first genocide of the 21st century—in Sudan—was over water, he said. Cousteau said the world's population of 7 billion is projected to grow to 9 billion by mid-century, bringing water and energy challenges and a need to increase food production by 70 percent.
Asked what a typical person can do, he suggested baby steps, such as eating less meat, looking closely at political candidates, and being open to new ideas.
“If there's a universal truth we say at EarthEcho, it's not that you can make a difference; the truth is that everything you do makes a difference. Our choices have consequences. That's a hope-filled message,” Cousteau said, “because it means every single one of us has the power to change the world.”
AVMA recognizes contributions to profession
The AVMA acknowledged a number of individuals during its Annual Convention in St. Louis for efforts to advance veterinary medicine, animal welfare, and public health.
• AVMA Award—Dr. John W. Albers, who served more than two decades as the executive director of the American Animal Hospital Association.
• Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award—Dr. Nancy D. Kay, author of “Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life.”
• AVMA Animal Welfare Award—Dr. Jan K. Shearer, who has promoted cattle welfare as an extension veterinarian at Iowa State University and previously at the University of Florida.
• Charles River Prize—Dr. Steven L. Leary, assistant vice chancellor for veterinary affairs and director of the Division of Comparative Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.
• AVMA Humane Award—Anne Lindsay, who founded the Massachusetts Animal Coalition as a vehicle for learning and networking by animal welfare professionals and volunteers.
• AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award—Dr. Donald F. Patterson, who founded the Penn Medical Genetics Clinic and the Center for Research in Comparative Medical Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
• AVMA Practitioner Research Award—Dr. Dominic J. Marino, who has pioneered surgical techniques as chief of staff at Long Island Veterinary Specialists in New York.
• AVMA Public Service Award—Dr. John P. Huntley, U.S. Department of Agriculture area veterinarian in charge and previous director of New York state's Division of Animal Industry.
• XIIth International Veterinary Congress Prize—Dr. Paula L. Cowen, director of professional development staff for USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services and coordinator of a U.S. team on international veterinary affairs.
• Student AVMA Teaching Excellence Award—Dr. Linda A. Mizer, senior lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
• SAVMA Community Outreach Excellence Award—Dr. Karen K. Cornell, University of Georgia professor who co-founded a group to share information about animal abuse and domestic violence and to care for pets whose owners seek protection from abusive situations.
• American Veterinary Medical Foundation/American Kennel Club Career Achievement Award in Canine Research—Dr. Peter Muir, University of Wisconsin professor who studies fractures in dogs and cats and tendon and ligament diseases in dogs.
• AVMF/Winn Feline Foundation Research Award—Dr. Jody L. Gookin, an associate professor at North Carolina State University who helped identify Tritrichomonas foetus as a cause of diarrhea in domestic cats.
• Karl F. Meyer–James H. Steele Gold Head Cane Award—Dr. Craig N. Carter, University of Kentucky professor who has been a leader in epidemiologic surveillance and laboratory information systems; and Dr. Alejandro B. Thiermann, president of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code Commission at the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
• AVMA President's Award—Dr. Christina Kornegay, co-owner of Antoine-Little York Animal Clinic in Houston, past Texas delegate to the AVMA, and past president of the Texas VMA; Dr. Bret D. Marsh, Indiana state veterinarian, who just completed six years as the AVMA's treasurer after previously participating in the AVMA House of Delegates; and Dr. Evan M. Morse, president of Warrensville Animal Hospital in Ohio, who participated in the civil rights movement and advocates for diversity in the veterinary profession.
More details about the awards and the awardees were published in the Sept. 1 and 15 issues of JAVMA News and are available at www.avma.org.
AVMA announces participants in Future Leaders Program
The AVMA officially launched the Future Leaders Program on July 16 at the AVMA Annual Convention by announcing the 10 early-career veterinarians who will be the inaugural participants.
The AVMA established the yearlong pilot program with support from Pfizer Animal Health to develop future leaders for the AVMA and other veterinary associations. Working with a professional facilitator, participants will develop leadership and problem-solving skills relevant to organized veterinary medicine.
Participants also will collaborate on a project to provide the AVMA with strategies to help increase the leadership skills of veterinarians across the country.
The Future Leaders Program received nominations for more than 70 AVMA members who had graduated from veterinary school within the past 15 years.
The 10 participants in the 2011–2012 Future Leaders Program are as follows:
• Dr. Melissa Austin-Gundel, Kansas City, Mo., companion animal practice.
• Dr. Abigail Bowers, Eldridge, Iowa, mixed animal practice.
• Dr. Dustin M. Brown, Midwest City, Okla., companion animal practice.
• Dr. Erin Casey, Washington, D.C., companion animal practice.
• Dr. John T. Feutz, Princeton, Ind., mixed animal practice.
• Dr. Christopher Gargamelli, Durham, Conn., companion animal emergency practice.
• Dr. Micah Kohles, Lincoln, Neb., industry.
• Dr. Shannon Mesenhowski, Minneapolis, companion animal practice.
• Dr. Elizabeth Nunamaker, Chicago, laboratory animal medicine.
• Dr. Libby Todd, Birmingham, Ala., companion animal practice.
Exhibition tells history of profession
The National Library of Medicine is hosting an exhibition this year showcasing original illustrated manuscripts and early printed books from the library's collection that feature the care and treatment of horses over the past five centuries.
The exhibition, “From Craft to Profession: The Transition from Horse Farrier to Professional Veterinarian,” is one of the World Veterinary Year celebrations that recognize the 250th anniversary of the founding of the first veterinary school in Lyon, France.
In the century after Claude Bourgelat's school opened, the practice of veterinary medicine became a credentialed profession requiring an academic degree and strict licensing, replacing the old system of farriers and apprenticeships.
The exhibit at the NLM, a division of the National Institutes of Health, showcases its extensive collection of rare veterinary medical texts, many published before 1800.
The public is invited to visit from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays (except Labor Day weekend), through Oct. 7 in the NLM History of Medicine Reading Room, Building 38, on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Md.
Nutrition research funded
The American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition and Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition handed out the 2011 AAVN/Waltham Research Awards, totaling nearly $40,000 in funding.
Dr. Richard C. Hill (CAM ′80) received one of the grants for his study “Energy expenditure of dogs exercising on an underwater treadmill compared to that on a dry treadmill.” He is the Waltham associate professor of small animal internal medicine and clinical nutrition at the University of Florida-Gainesville. Dr. Hill's study will be using indirect calorimetry to evaluate energy expenditure in student- and faculty-owned dogs, using dry and underwater treadmills at various speeds and water depths.
Alfreda Wei, PhD, received the other grant for her study “Effects of water content in canned foods on energy balance and weight loss in obese cats.” She works in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Her study will be examining the effects of canned food versus freeze-dried, manipulated canned food with only 10 percent moisture on weight loss in colony cats.
American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology
The American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology certified four new diplomates following the certification examination it conducted May 20–21 in Madison, Wis. The new diplomates are as follows: