Columbus, Ohio -- The Ohio Veterinary Medical Association has urged caution against rushing to judgement about a possible ballot measure to debate animal welfare standards until more information about the state's livestock housing becomes available.
OVMA says the submission of the petition by Ohioans for Humane Farms Feb. 1 was no surprise after the approval of Issue 2 by voters last fall. Issue 2 created the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, which is charged with adopting certain minimum standards for farm animals. The petition, backed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and a number of other humane groups, would set out minimum standards that the livestock board would have to adopt. HSUS did not support Issue 2.
“The OVMA believes all reasonable efforts to enhance animal well-being and care should be reviewed and considered with the utmost diligence. Doing so requires a proper and thorough examination of what science does and doesn’t tell us about the aspects of animal welfare under consideration,” says OVMA in its official response to the proposal. “The veterinary community takes its role in evaluating and commenting on proposed standards of animal care and well-being with utmost responsibility and seriousness … While we respect the right of the citizens of the state to express their wishes regarding important matters, the complex nature of the science and values in animal housing systems is such that we have recommended now, as well as last year, that livestock welfare standards be addressed through legislative and not constitutional ballot mediums.”
OVMA says it will continue to share its observations on the petition over the next several weeks. It has not yet released an official position on the petition and OVMA leaders say the group will remain neutral until more information becomes available.