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AVMA Calls On McCain And Obama To Help Keep America's Animals Healthy

May 14, 2017

Pigs, pit bulls, donkeys and elephants - the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reminded presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama that America's veterinarians play vital roles in preserving and protecting both human and animal health - lipstick or not.

Speaking from their headquarters just outside of Chicago, the AVMA's chief executive challenged the candidates to integrate into their platforms positions in support of veterinary medicine, food safety and animal health and well-being.

"Animal and human health are nonpartisan issues, and we call on Senators McCain and Obama to honor America's citizens by supporting measures to protect them from zoonotic diseases, food safety outbreaks and animal-related bioterrorism," said Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, Chief Executive Officer of the AVMA.

America's veterinarians, Dr. DeHaven said, are helping keep healthy and safe a national ecosystem abounding with animals. "Whether the eagles that soar through our airways or the barracudas that cruise our coastal borders, America's veterinarians are the first-line of protectors of the health of our nation's animals," DeHaven said.

"Unfortunately, our nation is heading toward a crisis because there are only 85,000 veterinarians to keep all of these animals and the humans in contact with them healthy," he added.

The AVMA urged the candidates to pledge leadership on these key issues affecting the United States:

- Veterinarian shortage. With a population of almost 305 million - approximately 85,000 of which are practicing veterinarians - America faces a dangerous shortage of veterinarians - especially in critical rural areas, where food animals are typically raised and inspected. The new President will need to champion measures for growing the number of veterinarians and recruiting more to serve in rural areas.

- Food safety. Crucial food safety programs and resources, such as the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD), will fall under the new President's administrative jurisdiction. These programs are frequently underfunded or at risk of closure, and the new President must take strong stances to preserve them.

- Key administrators. A host of key top-level administrative positions that deal with veterinary, animal and food safety issues are best served with a veterinarian in those positions. Specifically, the AVMA calls on the new President to ensure that veterinarians are appointed to lead the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Food Safety Inspection Service.

Additionally, the AVMA reiterated that the association is a first-line policy, research and knowledge resource in Washington, D.C.

"After the election is over and the campaign a memory of the past, we will still be caring for and researching the health and welfare of pigs and pit bulls -- not to mention cows, cats and camels," DeHaven said.

The AVMA and its more than 76,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art of animal, human and public health. Visit the AVMA Web site at avma for more information.

American Veterinary Medical Association