Why is the ABVMA attempting to change the Veterinary Profession Act (VPA)?

After the court’s ruling in the Pequin case in 2002, this created a problem for the ABVMA. The ABVMA can only discipline their members if it falls within “veterinary medicine”, leaving loopholes when it comes to disciplining their own members.  Another reason ABVMA gives for needing to modernize and widen their scope of practice, is because the public is at risk because they have lost the control of being able to “discipline” non-veterinarian practitioners.

We must keep in mind that under the guise of their noble status in society, veterinarians are running a business. Isn’t it handy to have complete control over your competition? Not to mention a fast growing and successful competition at that. The field of complimentary health is reported to be the fastest growing industry for humans; and animals are not far behind. For example, according to the magazine Organic Lifestyles, Sept/Oct 2005 issue, “Organic pet food sales are up 63% from last year, and are growing at nearly three times the rate of human organic food sales, says the Organic Trade Association. We do love our pets and this remarkable growth says we are willing to feed our best friends better than we feed ourselves.”

As owners experience the great benefits of complimentary health for themselves, they naturally consider what these approaches could do for their animals. The other thing to consider when it comes to economics is that a complimentary health approach focuses more on prevention. This approach leaves less people running to their veterinarians because their pets are staying healthier. And if their animal does develop a chronic illness, complimentary health gives owners options to drugs and surgeries, which are the main income for most conventional veterinarians. Conventional medicine veterinarians do have an invaluable role. When it comes to emergency, life-saving care, veterinarians are without a doubt the best ones qualified for this job.

The other answer you won’t hear about is how the AVMA feels the public is incapable of making good decisions about the health of their animals, and therefore they must be the gatekeeper of all animal care.

On page 9 of the 2004 AVMA Annual Report, it states, “Ours is a profession where the public is poorly equipped to asses expertise and it is [the AVMA’s] job to judge it for them.”

Owners are not unintelligent people. They can make good decisions as long as information is available to them. They make decisions about bringing themselves and their children to a massage therapist, chiropractor, or acupuncturist –and can do so of their own free will, without a referral from a doctor. But suddenly these same people are incapable about making decisions about their animal’s health? Remember, these are the same animals that are so similar to humans that they are used for science experiments to test human medicine & products.

So when you hear the phrase “the change is needed to ensure animal welfare” asks yourself, “Is this a case of the AVMA protecting my animals from me?”
The AVMA believes the public is at risk now because they have lost the control of being able to “discipline” non-veterinarian practitioners and this will impact animal welfare. They claim that since non-veterinarians do not have the legislative authority to exist and/or work specifically on animals, the public will not be protected against incompetence and fraud. Whether an association has a legislative authority to exist or not, does not ensure public protection. The best protection is an educated, empowered individual.

If the proposed changes are really about protection and animal welfare, then why is the ABVMA providing an exemption for FARRIERS? Farriers do not have a legislated governing body, and an uneducated farrier is capable of causing great harm to an animal. Why are farriers the only exempted group in the vet act?

Good question? One that I can not answer. You’ll have to ask Dr. Darrell Dalton, registrar of the ABVMA. 780-489-5007

Protection is only a reactive measure. Realistically, there will always be different levels of competency whether a group is legislated or not. In fact, there are many forms of human health care that do not have a “legislative authority to exist” such as massage therapy and acupuncture. It is time for animal owners to be proactive about their animal’s health. Having educated and empowered animal owners will accomplish everyone’s goal of raising the standard of animal health and welfare. An informed animal owner will be able to wisely decide which practitioner is best suited to provide care to their animal, whether it is a non-veterinarian, or a veterinarian.