AVMA Rejects Foie Gras Resolution

In July, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s House of Delegates unanimously rejected a proposed resolution condemning foie gras production. The rejected resolution read,

RESOLVED that the AVMA hereby opposes the practice of force feeding ducks and geese to produce foie gras.

In a press release, the AVMA said,

In their discussion, the HOD (House of Delegates) considered their obligations to animals, society, and veterinary medicine. However, because limited peer-reviewed, scientific information dealing with the animal welfare concerns associated with foie gras production is available, and because the observations and practical experience of HOD members indicate a minimum of adverse effects on the birds involved, the HOD did not support the resolution opposing force feeding used to produce foie gras.

“We’ve looked at the science and current production practices, and have found it is not necessary for the AVMA to take a position either for or against foie gras production at this time,” said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, AVMA President.


AVMA House of Delegates Defeats Foie Gras Resolution. Press Release, American Veterinary Medical Association, July 16, 2005.

Farm Lobby Blocks Proposed California Ban on Killing Chickens Via Wood Chipper

In April, California’s farm lobby successfully blocked a bill that would have banned the killing of chickens in wood chippers.

The law, proposed by Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, was introduced after a 2003 incident in which workers at Ward Poultry Farm in San Diego County threw up to dumped up to 30,000 live chickens into wood chippers.

Ward Poultry Farm co-owner Bill Wilgenburg said the drastic measure was taken only after Newcastle disease broke out among chickens in southern California and the state quarantined the chickens in the area. Wilgenburg said he brought in the wood chippers after a veterinarian advised him to do so.

The San Diego County District Attorney examined the case but declined to prosecute, saying that the farm had not violated California’s animal cruelty laws because it did not act with malicious intent and followed the advice of a veterinarian.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, by the way, is adamantly opposed to the practice, saying in a press release,

“Use of wood chippers has not been endorsed by the AVMA as an acceptable means of euthanasia for poultry.” This statement is a response to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune that reported employees at two area poultry farms used wood chippers to dispose of some 30,000 live hens in February. The article erroneously stated that the AVMA approves of the method.

“It is absolutely absurd and ludicrous to believe that any veterinary medical association, especially an association that has for more than 140 years been the leading voice for humane and proper care of animals, could or would advocate throwing live chickens into a wood chipper as an appropriate method of euthanasia,” said Dr. Bruce W. Little, AVMA executive vice president.

The full text of Assembly Bill 1587 which would make throwing live animals into a wood chipper illegal can be read here.


State farm lobby blocks bill to stop killing chickens via wood chippers. Michael Gardner, Copley News Service, April 21, 2005.

Wood chippers not to be used to euthanize poultry, AVMA says. Press Release, The American Veterinary Medical Association, June 3, 2003.

Activists Object to American Veterinary Medical Association’s Tsunami Relief Efforts

A number of animal rights activists were upset with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s choice of charities to aid the victims of December’s tsunami.

The AVMA announced that it would donate up to $500,000 in matching funds to Heifer International. Heifer International is an organization that aids the poor by providing livestock and training to poor families in the developing world. Naturally, animal rights activists have long opposed the organization.

In January, Pam Runquist of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights posted a press release to AR-NEWS quoting AVAR president Paula Kislak as saying,

Instead of sending veterinarians to help animal victims as AVAR has done, the AVMA has decided to donate up to $500,000 in matching funds to an organization hat misguidedly attempts to help people by promoting agriculture. Cattle, goats, and other farmed animals will be sent, used, and misused by the people for their eggs, milk, fur, or strength. The other very sad part is that the AVMA apparently doesn’t realize that providing crops and crop machinery would have been more appropriate, as many people in these areas are vegetarian. They shouldn’t be promoting an animal-based diet because it is unhealthy for the people and the environment. And, they certainly shouldn’t be supporting an organization that puts animals in harms way.

Runquist proves once again that there’s no stupidity like animal rights stupidity. Leaving aside for the moment Runquist’s horror that the AVMA is trying to do something for the people rather than the animals, Runquist’s complaint that “many people in these areas are vegetarian” shows her ignorance. Heifer International’s relief efforts are focused on Indonesia where it has had a presence in Sumatra for more than two decades. Like Aceh, the other area of Indonesia that suffered so greatly from the tsunami, Sumatra is predominantly Muslim.

Runquist’s press release adds that people should write and, “Tell the AVMA that it needs to get its priorities straight.” Sounds like its the AVAR that needs to get its priorities straight.

Animal rights activists Richard Gartner and Laurelee Blanchard followed Runquist’s request and sent a joint letter to the AVMA that read, in part,

We would appreciate the AVMA canceling its plans to send matching donations from AVMA members to Heifer International to help with tsunami relief efforts.

Many people in these disaster areas are vegetarian, so providing crops and crop machinery to the tsunami victims would be much more useful than shipping them livestock. Consider instead those farm animals in the tsunami areas in desperate need of veterinary attention. The AVMA ought to utilize its resources by sending veterinarians over there to help the animals affected by the Tsunami.

The crop machinery line is amusing — because some poor farmer is going to be able to maintain and use high-tech crop machines. In fact, as Runquist alluded to, many of the animals are used for their “strength” — i.e., to plow fields, etc.

AVMA executive vice-president Bruce Little responded saying,

The AVMA find HI’s comprehensive approach to disaster response most attractive. Heifer International and the AVMA recognize that environmental responsibility, indigenous traditions gender equity, and leadership training should not be separated from agricultural production. As part of its approach, HI not only provides life-sustaining animals that are appropriate for the land, resource needs, and culture, but also shows recipients how to properly care for these animals. Heifer International teachers farmers how to enrich their soil, curb erosion, conserve water, and use zero-grazing techniques to keep the land from being depleted. It also assists them in learning how to heat their homes using biogas.

With respect to tsunami efforts, HI is well-positioned to evaluate the affected areas, particularly since they have been operating in many of them for more than a decade. As you know, the epicenter of the earthquake that spurned the tsunami was just off Sumatra’s northwest coast. Heifer International’s Asia field staff is completing its assessment of conditions devastated by the tsunami and has recommended that HI expand existing development programs in Northern Sumatra, one of the areas hardest hit by the disaster. Heifer International and its partner organizations will work together and comprehensively over the next few years to rebuild existing animal and plant agricultural production, increase family incomes, and support housing, educational and public health efforts.

Imagine that — actually carrying about what happens to the people. The activists might want to try that sometime.


Tell AVMA to rethink tsunami relief effort pledge. Pam Runquist, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, January 31, 2005.

AVMA’s bogus justification for supporting Heifer International. Laurelee Blanchard, AR-NEWS, February 2, 2005.

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.

American Veterinary Medical Association Opposes Horse Slaughter Bill

The American Veterinary Medical Association announced in January its opposition to the House Bill on Transportation and Processing of Horses for Slaughter.

That bill, introduced by Rep. John Sweeney (NY), would place limits on the transportation and killing of horses that would almost certainly drastically reduce the number of horses slaughtered in the United States. Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that as many as 55,000 horses are slaughtered annually in the United States.

The AVMA says it opposes the bill on the grounds that a number of its provisions will worsen, rather than improve, the treatment of horses. In a prepared statement announcing the groupÂ’s opposition to the bill, AVMA president Jack Walther said,

The welfare of animals, and in this case horses, is the primary concern of veterinarians. The proposed legislation, as written, could actually result in less humane treatment of these horses. . . . Humane slaughter may not be the most desirable option for addressing the problem of unwanted horses. However, it may be preferable to allowing these horses to face a life of inadequate care or possible abandonment.

The major problem the AVMA appears to have with the bill is that it doesnÂ’t adequately address dealing with unwanted horses who will no longer be able to be sent to slaughter. According to the AVMA,

HR 857 does not adequately address the welfare of horses for which humane slaughter will be removed as an option. The bill does not establish standards that horse rescue facilities must meet to ensure the humane care of these horses.

. . .

The number of unwanted horses presently sent for humane slaughter will be removed as an option. The bill does not establish standards that horse facilities must meet to ensure the humane care of these horses.

HR 857 estimates that approximately 55,000 horses were slaughtered in United States facilities last year. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, subsistence care for these horses would cost approximately $1825/horse/year, resulting in a potential funding requirement of $100 million/year during the first year of HR 857Â’s enactment. Adding more horses ever year to the pool of those needing care means that these costs will only increase.

The full text of the proposed bill can be read here.


AVMA Opposes Bill on Transportation & Processing of Horses for Slaughter. Press Release, American Veterinary Medical Association, January 7, 2004.

AVMA Board Endorses "Survivors" Pro-Research Campaign

In July the American Veterinary Medical Association Executive Board announced it had approved sending a letter in support of the Foundation for Biomedical Research’s “Surivors” campaign. The “Survivors” campaign highlights the role that biomedical research plays in improving animal health.

In a press release on its decision, the AVMA Executive Board said,

The goal of “Survivors” is to promote public understanding that biomedical research involving laboratory animals plays a key role in advancing veterinary medicine and companion animal heatlh.

Portraits of four animals that have survived feline and canine diseases are featured as part of the campaign . . .

The Council on Research recommended that the AVMA support “Survivors,” which the council calld “highly commendable and eagerly awaited by the veterinary medical research community.”


AVMA supports ‘Survivors’ campaign. Press Release, American Veterinary medical Association, July 1, 2003.