AVMA wants Congress to designate 2011 as the year of the veterinarian

AVMA wants Congress to designate 2011 as the year of the veterinarian

Oct 01, 2010

Washington, D.C.— Next year marks the 250th anniversary of veterinary medicine worldwide, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) wants Congress to pass resolutions in both the House and the Senate to officially designate 2011 as the year of the veterinarian.

It all started in Lyon, France with the founding of the first veterinary school. Two-hundred and fifty years later, French veterinarians pushed again to trigger a year-long celebration of veterinary medicine worldwide, says Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of AVMA's Governmental Relations Division. AVMA sits on the International Vet2011 Executive Committee and heads the national committee.

"We're doing a number of activities and celebrations, and one of the things we can do here in Washington D.C. is work on resolutions in both the House and the Senate."

As reported in DVM Newsmagazine, resolutions to designate World Veterinary Year were introduced July 15 in each chamber of Congress by the two members serving, including Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.).

The House resolution has been referred to committee, Lutschaunig reports, and it will take 60 co-sponsors to get it on the calendar and have it heard by the whole House. On the Senate side, passage requires fewer logistical hurdles as a bill can bypass the committee phase and go straight to the floor for passage by unanimous consent.

Lutschaunig is optimistic about passage of both resolutions. "We've received great feedback. It's a non-controversial issue."

Congress is slated to return Sept. 13 and will be in session until early October when it breaks in advance of the fall election. After Americans cast their ballots, Congress will return for a lame duck session, though it's unknown what issues it might tackle then. Lutschaunig says timing is everything. "If we don't get it passed this year, we'll get it introduced next year and (work to have it) passed then."

The resolutions' passage would be a big boost for veterinary medicine, Lutschaunig says. "It shows an expression of support for the veterinary community and from members of Congress. It's a pretty big deal."

Meanwhile, AVMA is planning a slew of other events to celebrate 2011, including student and DVM exchange programs, educational activities and a one-day symposium at next year's AVMA meeting.

Ms. Karapetian is a freelance journalist in Chicago.