House of Delegates changes the way it approves bylaw amendments

Jan 31, 2012
By staff
Schaumburg, Ill. — New rules regarding passage of bylaw amendments from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) now require a two-thirds vote for passage.

Previously, amendments recommended for approval by the Executive Board required majority vote by the association's House of Delegates (HOD) for passage, and only those not recommended by the Executive Board required a two-thirds vote. Now, all bylaw amendments will require a two-thirds vote, regardless of whether they are put forward with the recommendation by AVMA's Executive Board.

The bylaw amendment was one of two adopted by the House of Delegates at its winter session Jan. 7.

The amendment was recommended for approval by the House Advisory Committee and Reference Committee, but was recommended for disapproval by the AVMA Executive Board.

A second bylaw amendment, also approved by the House of Delegates, expedites association membership for student AVMA members after graduation. The amendment was recommended for approval by the Executive Board, the House Advisory Committee and Reference Committee No. 1.

Several resolutions also were approved by HOD, including one revising AVMA’s Policy on Animal Abuse and Animal Neglect.

According to the old policy, veterinarians were expected to report animal abuse or neglect to appropriate authorities, regardless of whether they were mandated to do so by law. The AVMA Animal Welfare Committee proposed adding language to emphasize that reporting should be timely. HOD approved the resolution, which was also recommended for approval by the House Advisory Committee and the Executive Board. Reference Committee No. 2 recommended approval of an amended version of the resolution, but that version was defeated.

The second resolution adopted by HOD Jan. 7 amends AVMA’s Policy on Annual Rabies Vaccination Waiver. The AVMA Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine proposed the policy and an accompanying waiver to provide an exemption from rabies vaccination in the rare event an animal experiences a contraindication to the vaccine. The council fully supports rabies vaccinations for all dogs, cats and ferrets per the recommendation from the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, says AVMA.

According to the new policy, "All rabies vaccination waivers should be reconsidered at least yearly and, if appropriate, may be renewed on an annual basis following a reassessment of the animal's condition."

HOD reference Committee No. 7 amended the proposal to state that some animals may require a waiver from rabies vaccination due to health risks or research purposes, and that amended version was adopted by the House of Delegates. The resolution was also recommended for approval by the House Advisory Committee and the Executive Board.

The final resolution passed by the HOD makes revisions to AVMA’s Model Veterinary Practice Act.

The new version of the AVMA Model Veterinary Practice Act was compiled by an AVMA task force, according to the association and presents what Chair Dr. John Scamahorn calls "a model of what AVMA feels is the best way to protect the health, safety and welfare of people and animals." The task force submitted the revised model practice act to the AVMA Executive Board in November, and the board voted to forward the document to the House of Delegates for consideration in early January.

The revised model practice act, AVMA says, includes a more descriptive definition of "animal" as meaning "any living organism, except humans, having sensation and the power of voluntary movement and requiring for its existence oxygen and organic nutrients;” and a new definition of "complementary, alternative, and integrative therapies" as meaning "a heterogeneous group of preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic philosophies and practices that are not considered part of conventional (Western) medicine as practiced by most veterinarians and veterinary technicians."

Some of the changes include commentary that veterinarians should document owner consent in the medical record and obtain the client's signature whenever possible. New subsections also clarify circumstances in which veterinarians can disclose patient information for purposes of treatment, payment or research.

The resolution was recommended for adoption by the Executive Board, the House Advisory Committee and Reference Committee No. 6, and was approved by the HOD.