The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) announced that their respective boards of directors have approved a corporate combination agreement which will result in a powerful new veterinary advocacy organization, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA). HSVMA will give veterinarians, veterinary students and veterinary technicians an opportunity to participate in animal welfare programs, including disaster response; expanded hands-on animal care; spaying and neutering; and advocacy for legislative, corporate and veterinary medical school reforms.
Here is their press release announcing their partnership:
“Veterinarians bring a special credibility and authority on animal issues, and I am delighted to add this exciting new operation to The Humane Society of the United States’ family of organizations,” said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. “For 27 years, AVAR has been an important and principled veterinary voice in animal advocacy. Now we will be able to amplify that voice and expand our veterinary-related programs dramatically.”
“For many years, AVAR has worked with a sizable core group of dedicated veterinary advocates, but our ability to reach veterinarians throughout the nation was hampered by our limited resources,” said Dr. Paula Kislak, president of the board of AVAR. “As The Humane Society of the United States invests more resources in veterinary advocacy and we blend our assets with them, I anticipate that we will be able to organize many more thousands of veterinarians in the broader cause of animal protection.” Dr. Kislak will join the board of directors of The HSUS in the near future.
There are approximately 80,000 veterinarians in the United States, and 11,000 of them are already supporters of The HSUS. Since 2002, The HSUS has operated the highly successful Rural Area Veterinary Services ( RAVS ) program, delivering free services to animals and people in remote communities often underserved by veterinarians. In 2007, RAVS delivered more than 30,000 treatments to animals. More than 700 veterinary students a year participate in RAVS program, providing veterinary students with invaluable clinical experience with animals in need. The HSUS also has major collaborative programs with the veterinary schools at Louisiana State University and Mississippi State University.
AVAR, founded in 1981, has 3,500 affiliated veterinarians. Its programs focus on the reduction of the harmful and fatal use of animals in veterinary training; outreach to veterinarians, veterinary technicians and veterinary students; advocacy for companion animals and farm animals; and public education on other animal protection and veterinary issues. They publish two newslettersâ€”one on alternatives to harmful or fatal animal use in veterinary education, which is distributed three times annually to veterinary medical students in North American veterinary schools, and the other a general newsletter sent to veterinarians, veterinary students and supporters.
Both groups have long expressed frustration with the industry-biased positions taken by the American Veterinary Medical Association ( AVMA ). AVMA is on the opposite side of animal protection advocates or neutral on a wide range of unacceptable abuses of animals, including the slaughter of horses for human consumption, the continued use of random-source dogs and cats in research, cruelty to ducks and geese in the production of foie gras, the confinement of veal calves, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens in tiny crates and cages.
“All too often, the AVMA sides with animal-use industries, and not with animals,” said Pacelle. “How could a veterinarian, who takes a sworn oath to care for animals, not speak out against force feeding of ducks for foie gras or the confinement of veal calves in crates so small that the animals cannot even turn around? The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association will be a voice for the vast majority of veterinarians not in the employ of industries that do harm to animals.”
HSMVA will continue the veterinary work of The HSUS and AVAR, and will explore new programs such as offering benefits for veterinary practitioners and starting student chapters at veterinary medical colleges in the United States. The combination is expected to take effect on February 1, 2008.