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Over the past few weeks the veterinary role in animal welfare has been front and center for me. I recently presided over the day long WVMA sponsored, Animal Welfare Seminar, attended by nearly 125 veterinarians, law enforcement and district attorneys. What's your role in Animal Welfare?

My role in animal welfare was framed in large part as a farm kid growing up in west-central Wisconsin. My view of animal welfare was based in animal husbandry from the agrarian point of reference. Early in my career, as a recent veterinary school graduate practicing in Rock County, I was exposed to numerous instances of animal neglect or abuse. For reasons I don't fully understand, I tended to look the other way; maybe even finding excuses for caretakers responsible for neglected animals.

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in Presidents Message 135
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In my first President's Message published in November 2016, I challenged the WVMA membership to "Seize the opportunity, get creative and devise business models maintaining these activities to benefit the profession."

Access to veterinary medical care is a growing focus nationwide; the Humane Society of the United States estimates 23,000,000 pets in the U.S. can't access veterinary medical healthcare. Barriers are not strictly financial and include transportation, culture and language. If the profession could lower the veterinary medical care barrier these pets experience, what could the financial impact be? Basic healthcare provided to these pets, using a $200.00 per pet annual estimate, could have a $4.6 billion impact on veterinarian provided medical care. Approximately $24.6 billion is spent on veterinary services nationwide annually. Do the math, 19.6 percent of our industry's revenue is untapped in pets without access to veterinary medical care.

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in Presidents Message 92
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November 4, 1980, I distinctly remember the first Presidential election I participated in. Yes, 1980 seems like a long time ago, because it is; 37 years is a long time. Today, 1980 seems like a different time; my point of reference has certainly changed; has the process changed? The 2016 election cycle was unlike any previously witnessed. The United States electorate has so many platforms to engage in the political process, so many voices are now being heard. The news cycle relentlessly grinds on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's easy to feel like our voices aren't heard, like we have no input, like we're irrelevant. WVMA members have a valuable platform amplifying our voices, a resource advocating on our behalf. We need to be aware of it, we need to be involved with it, we need to financially support it.

The Wisconsin Legislature's actions directly effects many WVMA members' professional and business activities. WVMA political advocacy asks the legislature to take action on behalf of Wisconsin veterinarians and veterinary practices during each session. During every election cycle, legislative candidates ask veterinarians to support campaign activities. The VetMed PAC, a state Political Action Committee, was formed by the WVMA, enabling membership to easily support candidates for Wisconsin state elective offices.

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Why wellness? Nearly 10 percent of veterinarians characterize themselves as experiencing severe psychological distress.

Why wellness? Nearly 17 percent of veterinarians have contemplated suicide since graduation.

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in Presidents Message 393
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Improving practice culture, improving practice profitability: topics easy to talk about, often challenging to implement, often overwhelming for veterinary practices. How do we best implement change? One bite at a time! Break it down and simplify – keep it simple, keep it simple, keep it simple!

The AVMA Practice Profitability Workshop breaks the opportunity into four simple, easily understood baskets: finance, operations, strategy, and economics. Keep it simple, break it down.

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Presidents Message

20170513 124021
Animal Welfare; What’s Your Role?

Over the past few weeks the veterinary role in animal welfare has been front and center for me. I recently presided over the day long WVMA sponsored, Animal Welfare Seminar, attended by nearly 125 veterinarians, law enforcement and district attorneys. What's your role in Animal Welfare?

My role in animal welfare was framed in large part as a farm kid growing up in west-central Wisconsin. My view of animal welfare was based in animal husbandry from the agrarian point of reference. Early in my career, as a recent veterinary school graduate practicing in Rock County, I was exposed to numerous instances of animal neglect or abuse. For reasons I don't fully understand, I tended to look the other way; maybe even finding excuses for caretakers responsible for neglected animals.

My animal welfare epiphany occurred in 1995; the Rock County Sheriff's Department requested my assistance at an Avon township farmstead. I arrived on scene late afternoon on one of those clear, windy, absolutely frigid winter days. There were approximately 60 head of cattle; mostly beef breeds of varying ages. Nearly half of the cattle were dead; carcasses frozen solid. The other half were emaciated, nary a stem of hay to be found and a half mile trek across an open field through deep snow to the only source of water available - the nearly completely frozen Sugar River. We were fortunate to have Rock Humane Society volunteer's assistance and within a few hours, the surviving animals were watered and had access to plentiful forage. The surviving animals were confiscated and sold over the following few weeks; the caretaker was found to be suffering from mental disease.

As I write these words, the horrific images vividly race through my mind, the empathy overcoming me, just as it did that cold winter afternoon so long ago. This was my wake-up call. No longer would I look the other way, no longer would I make excuses for the caretakers. I became an advocate for neglected and abused animals. How can we as profession not assume this noble role? I owed this to so many of my clients, tirelessly providing the very best of care to animals in the most extreme of winter weather, they didn't make excuses, they just did it. They didn't eat, they didn't drink, they didn't warm themselves, until the animals under their care were watered, were fed, were sheltered.

I was recently recognized by the Rock County Sheriff's Department as a Citizen of the Year for my work with the Rock County Sherriff's Department humane officer, Deputy Bambi Stoikes. I was thrilled Deputy Stoikes attended the recent Animal Welfare Seminar with me. She is the one who should receive the recognition; she's on the animal neglect and cruelty front lines every day. Thank you ,Deputy Stoikes and all those in law enforcement serving these roles, your work is so important.

What's your role? Your role is being informed and educated regarding the process to successfully assist law enforcement and humane organizations in relieving animal abuse and neglect. Your role is to be vigilant, your role is to not make excuses, your role is to not look the other way. Err on the side of the animal. Most importantly, have the courage take action on behalf of the helpless. If not us, who? What's your role?

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Past Presidents Messages

20170513 124021
Animal Welfare; What’s Your Role?
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The Need is Great!
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Politics, Politics, Politics!
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Professional Wellness: Break the Dam!
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One Bite at a Time!
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Be Relevant!
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Conference Board LEI
2016 AVMA Economic Summit
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Is Your World Flat?
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