In an Aug. 19 blog, Humane Society of the United States' CEO Wayne Pacelle calls into question AVMA’s commitment to the veterinarian’s oath (read the full blog here). Excerpts include: “The HSUS doesn’t shrink from its responsibility to take on industries that cause or defend animal abuse…but it’s startling when we have to call out groups that should stand in the forefront of animal protection but are part of the problem when it comes to the mistreatment of animals.

“That is, sadly, the case with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)…. it’s been our experience that AVMA policies are out of step with a large share of veterinarians and the organization typically takes unfriendly positions on many of the major animal welfare questions of the day.

“This week, the AVMA issued a report attacking the prestigious Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, which had expressed support for a variety of important reforms in the realm of industrial agriculture, including federal legislation to end the widespread, routine use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics on factory farms. The Pew Commission endorsed legislation to phase

out the use of antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes on factory farms…dozens of other major public health groups support the legislation because they fear the consequences of agribusiness’s misuse of antibiotics to keep animals in overcrowded, inhumane, and often unsanitary conditions. But the AVMA is staunchly opposed to the bill.”

For more, read "AVMA report to congress disputes Pew Commission study."

I contacted the AVMA and asked if they would like to reply to this HSUS blog, and their quick response to me was not only appreciated, but right on target.

Ron DeHaven, DVM, AVMA’S CEO said: “Once again, Mr. Pacelle has resorted to misleading statements. His attempt to paint the AVMA and veterinarians in a negative light is little more than an attempt to raise more money for his organization. Veterinarians choose their careers because they care about animals. At the same time, veterinarians understand that, when it comes to animal welfare, a knee-jerk response based solely on emotion, not science, might not be in the best interest of animals.

"For example, the AVMA's stance against a ban on horse processing in the United States was not taken because we are ‘pro-slaughter,’ but because we know there is a large population of unwanted horses in this country, and feared what would happen if those horses couldn't be humanely euthanized in a regulated environment. Unfortunately, our fears have come true and have been made worse by the current economic climate. Large numbers of horses are being abandoned and left to starve across the country. Mr. Pacelle's stance has only increased the suffering of horses in the United States.

"Mr. Pacelle is ignoring the legitimate concerns of animal welfare scientists and veterinarians, and misleading the American public to further his organization's agenda,” continued DeHaven. “If he truly cared about the welfare of animals, he would not be so quick to criticize and minimize the input of veterinary experts." Well said!

Obviously, HSUS is frustrated that they are not controlling AVMA, so therefore they are slinging as much mud as they can, and using this opportunity to bolster their Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and other groups.

Pacelle finished his blog with, “We’d like some day to stand shoulder to shoulder with the AVMA on matters relating to the defense of animals. But too often, we stand on opposite sides of the major policy debates for animal welfare in America.” So in other words, if AVMA toes the line with HSUS’s “vast” food-animal welfare knowledge, they’ll stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them, but until then, HSUS will try to drag AVMA – and any other food animal veterinary organizations -- down by any means possible. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. — Geni Wren, Editor Bovine Veterinarian