Veterinarians push back on proposed rules for American College of Animal Welfare

Veterinarians push back on proposed rules for American College of Animal Welfare

Nov 01, 2010

National Report — Veterinarians looking to gain certification in animal welfare have two options: Australia or the United Kingdom. That could change as early as the first half of 2011 if the American Board of Veterinary Specialties green lights the formation of the American College of Animal Welfare (ACAW). Like any of the 21 veterinary specialty organizations, ACAW is intended to be an independent organization that advances the understanding of a particular field through education.

There is no argument over the need for such a college. But animal welfare has theoretical underpinnings and a place in public opinion that make the formation of a college ripe for debate. When ACAW opened up for public comment, some veterinarians were struck by a requirement that anyone seeking board certification must sign a form agreeing to the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) Animal Welfare Principles.

"I don't think people have a problem acknowledging the importance of animal welfare, and I don't think anyone would disagree that knowledge of the AVMA Animal Welfare Principles is critically important to anyone—whether you agree with them or not in their entirety—who pursues board certification," says Dr. Gary Block, an AVMA delegate for Rhode Island. "And one of my frustrations is trying to get a straight answer to the rationale for including this sign-off for this particular college, knowing that no other speciality college has ever required such a sign-off regarding AVMA Principles."

AVMA, on the other hand, contends ACAW really isn't associated with AVMA's Animal Welfare Division, and its activities remain independent of the new college. Because of it, Dr. Gail Golab, director of AVMA's Animal Welfare Division, declined comment when asked about this issue.

Block and others who are disappointed about the requirement are most concerned about agreeing with the first AVMA Animal Welfare Principle, which states: "The responsible use of animals for human purposes, such as companionship, food, fiber, recreation, work, education, exhibition and research conducted for the benefit of both humans and animals, is consistent with the Veterinarian's Oath."