New AVMA President Calls for More Leadership on Animal Welfare Issues

Incoming American Veterinary Medical Association president Dr. Bonnie Beaver said at that group’s convention that the AVMA must more directly engage in issues of animal welfare or risk ceding that territory to the animal rights movement.

In an July 23 speech to the AVMA House of Delegates, Beaver outlined her vision of the AVMA’s role in promoting animal welfare saying (emphasis added),

The third area of importance to AVMA is animal welfare. Veterinarians are the ultimate authorities in animal welfare. It is important that we retain this authority in light of challenges by animal rightists and humane organizations, as has been evident in recent newspaper attacks. Peter Singer, president of the Animal Rights International which was one of the sponsors of the New York Times ad, told the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee that when his group goes to a legislative body asking for a new law, one of the first questions he gets is “What does AVMA think about this?” When it becomes clear our positions differ, our position was chosen over his. Mr. Singer made it clear to the Committee that he was determined to remove obstacles in the way of his issues. As the world changes, our need to become more outspoken in this area has increased so that the image of the veterinarian being the one true advocate for the animal is not lost. Animal rightists are pushing their agenda in small increments under the guise of animal welfare and with mistruths, but the public is not aware of the slippery path ahead. Just as happens in many of the other areas we touch, we have accomplished a lot for a little. As an example, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has a $17 million budget with a staff of 200. The Humane Society of the United States has a $70 million budget, 300 staff members, and no animal shelters to support. Other animal rights organizations have a combined income of over $14.5 million. How about the AVMA? As you know, our $24 million budget is divided into many areas. Currently we devote around $200,000 and one FTE to animal welfare activities! Truly, a mouse that roars.

For several years the issues associated with animal welfare have been on our radar screen, but as you know they have become increasingly visible over the last few years. In the Executive Board visioning sessions during this past year, animal welfare moved into the highest concern for issues we face. The Executive Board then reemphasized the importance of AVMA’s role in the animal welfare arena, with veterinarians as the experts. Only in this way can we serve our biggest public–the animals.

Good for Dr. Beaver.


New AVMA president calls for leadership in animal welfare. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, September 1, 2004.

Building for the Future by Serving Society. Bonnie Beaver, September 1, 2004.

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