AVMA's hard line too hard?

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AVMA's hard line too hard?

Call for softer stance on cosmetic surgery among resolutions facing convention delegates
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Jul 01, 2009

SEATTLE — The Utah Veterinary Medical Association (UVMA) wants the AVMA to lay off the "hard-line slant" it took when the policy on ear cropping and tail docking was changed late last year and is asking the House of Delegates (HOD) to soften the policy.

In November 2008, the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) executive board changed the policy to read, "The AVMA opposes ear cropping and tail docking of dogs when done solely for cosmetic purposes. The AVMA encourages the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards."

While the association was not necessarily in favor of the practice before, the policy change, for the first time, explicitly states its opposition to it.

It's a move that UVMA says was made under pressure from outside groups.

"One of the reasons the Animal Welfare Committee suggested a change to the executive board was to bring the policy more into line with the American Animal Hospital Association and other countries," UVMA explains. "We are the American Veterinary Medical Association, not any other and do not need to apologize for our positions."

UVMA says the procedures are minor compared to more invasive surgeries, complication rates are low and discomfort minimal.

The UVMA sharply criticizes the AVMA for its decision.

"Our association seems to want pets to be 'owned,' but then we want to restrict what owners can or cannot do," the organization states.

But the UVMA isn't the only group interested in animal-welfare policy changes this summer.

The AVMA House Advisory Committee (HAC) is telling the HOD to get on board with mainstream America when it comes to use of random-source dogs and cats.

The HAC is recommending the AVMA's policy do away with using live dogs and cats from animal shelters in research, testing and education.

"Representing itself as the authority on animal-welfare issues, the AVMA should adopt a policy which is more sensitive to the issues surrounding the source of live dogs and cats used for research, testing and education," HAC says, citing that "pound seizure" already is illegal in 17 states and Washington, D.C.

The policy, if approved, would make an exception for dogs and cats used during harmless procedures, such as physical exams, spaying and neutering, bandaging, ultrasonography and radiology.

The HAC warns current policy could turn people off to animal shelters.

"The AVMA should not support a policy whereby animals that are abandoned, neglected or simply lost are relocated to a research or testing facility instead of a loving home or, where necessary, humanely euthanized," the HAC states.

In addition to these resolutions, the HOD again will hear more on the much-argued judicious therapeutic use of antimicrobials policy.

The New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association (NJVMA), Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV) and the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association (WSVMA) want to make sure "veterinarians are the gatekeepers and decision makers regarding judicious use of antimicrobials."

The groups want the HOD to delete wording in the policy that they believe "suggests tacit approval of non-judicious use."

The American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) is asking the HOD to give it a voice with the AVMA and it's willing to pay for it.

Even though the AAZV has nearly 1,000 members across the United States and internationally, with 20 percent of its voting members outside the country and therefore not AVMA members, the association cannot gain a seat on the HOD's advisory panel.

In order to be a representative organization, 90 percent of membership must be voting members of AVMA.

"The House of Delegates would benefit from such an addition to the advisory panel when a resolution is under debate and zoo expertise is required," states the HAC, which submitted the resolution.

The financial impact to the AVMA would be nil, as the AAZV has agreed to pay the travel expenses of its representative.