Although it is obvious to veterinarians that a Border collie and a 96-year-old woman likely make a poor pet-owner match, it may not be obvious to a potential owner who has never been around Border collies. Indeed, one reason healthy animals wind up in shelters, says Gail Golab, PhD, DVM, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) interim director for animal welfare, is because people "acquire a pet with an expectation the pet doesn't fulfill."
Shelters can adopt out only so many animals, says Kate Hurley, DVM, MPVM, director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California, Davis. So the biggest impact on euthanasia numbers will be on the intake side of the equation, not the adoption side.
On a hot Sunday morning in July, J.C. Burcham, DVM, and a colleague neuter 79 cats at a local animal welfare organization. Dr. Burcham, who practices in a large veterinary hospital in Olathe, Kan., knows firsthand about relinquishment and euthanasia.
To effectively satisfy the rising demand for better preventive healthcare programs and veterinary services for shelter animals, veterinarians must understand the mission and goal of animal shelters and the resources available to them.
Increasing numbers of veterinarians could find themselves drawn into the jaws of dog-fighting investigations -- to provide expert testimony, treat injured animals or both -- if the violent activity continues to escalate as it has recently, especially in urban areas.
New York—The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is partnering with animal-welfare and community organizations in a nationwide effort to improve the quality of animal treatment and care.
This bioethicist and philosophy professor is on a mission to improve the lives of all animals and emphasizes communication as key in this process. "People skills can make the difference between life and death for an animal."
I'm happy to see Veterinary Medicine openly explore the many facets of animal welfare in the August 2006 issue. And I'd like to thank Dr. Rollin for a thought-provoking opinion on animal welfare and the veterinary profession (Guest Commentary, "Now is the time to take a stand on animal welfare," August 2006).
Editor's Note: DVM Newsmagazine asked six thought-leaders to talk about five of the most pressing issues facing the veterinary profession at CVC East in Baltimore. During the succeeding months, each of the issues introduced at the first DVM Newsmaker's Summit will be presented for publication. This month, the panel takes on animal welfare and veterinary medicine's important role. Dr. Bonnie Beaver introduced the issue of animal welfare.
It is a positive step for the profession, for animals, and for society that veterinary medicine has embraced responsibility for preventing cruelty to animals. But we also need to attend to a more subtle and less well understood form of severe cruelty: the chronic, large-scale neglect that occurs with animal hoarding.