The Humane Society of the United States and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights have approved a corporate combination agreement which will result in a powerful new veterinary advocacy organization, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. It 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, say organizers.

“Veterinarians bring a special credibility and authority on animal issues, and I am delighted to add this exciting new operation to HSUS’ family of organizations,” says Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and chief executive officer. “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,” says Paula Kislak, DVM, president of AVAR's board. “As HSUS 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.” Kislak will join the HSUS board of directors in the near future.
There are approximately 80,000 veterinarians in the United States -- 11,000 already support HSUS.  Since 2002, HSUS has operated the Rural Area Veterinary Services program, delivering free services to animals and people in remote communities often short of veterinary services. 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 clinical experience with animals. 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 reducing 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. 
Both groups have long expressed frustration with the American Veterinary Medical Association. "AVMA is on the opposite side of animal-protection advocates or neutral on a wide range of unacceptable abuses of animals, including the slaughtering 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," a joint news release states.

“All too often, AVMA sides with animal-use industries, and not with animals,” says Pacelle. “How could a veterinarian, who takes a sworn oath to care for animals, not speak out against force feeding ducks for foie gras or the confinement of veal calves in crates so small that the animals cannot even turn around? HSVMA will be a voice for the vast majority of veterinarians not in the employ of industries that do harm to animals.”

The groups report that HSMVA will explore new programs such as offering benefits for veterinary practitioners and starting student chapters at U.S. veterinary medical colleges. The combined group is expected to take effect on Feb. 1.

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Source: The Humane Society of the United States