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Politics, Politics, Politics!

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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.

Unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine undermines our profession, jeopardizing the health and welfare of our patients. The Veterinary Examining Board oversees the veterinary practice act and was formerly housed in the Wisconsin Department of Professional Services. The WDPS was ineffective at investigating cases of unlicensed practice. The WVMA and VetMed PAC, under Attorney Jordan Lamb's extraordinary leadership, lobbied the Wisconsin Legislature to move the Veterinary Examining Board from the WDPS to Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. This was accomplished in 2015, the investigation of unlicensed veterinary practice is actively progressing, numerous cases have reached successful conclusions.

What does VetMed PAC do?

• Contributes to campaigns of candidates who recognize and understand the critical roles veterinary medicine plays in communities and in managing animal and human health issues.
• The WVMA Political Action Committee selects candidates from both sides of the aisle to receive VetMed PAC financial support.

• The PAC committee solicits WVMA members' financial contributions to the VetMed PAC. The contributions must be personal contributions, no corporate contributions can be accepted.

How can you help?

• The WVMA Political Action Committee welcomes member input regarding candidates understanding of veterinary medicine. This is your platform, an opportunity for your voice to be heard.

• Contributions of $25 or $50 made by numerous WVMA members goes a very long way. This is an efficient and effective way to become involved.

Support the VetMed PAC, ensure your voice will be heard, ensure you remain relevant in politics, politics, politics!

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Presidents Message

The Need is Great!

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.

Here's an opportunity; a business model was devised, WisCARES (Wisconsin Companion Animal Resources, Education and Social Services). WisCARES is a UW-Madison program through the School of Veterinary Medicine in a partnership with the School of Social Work. The program's focus is the intersection of housing/homelessness and pet ownership and keeping animals and their people together and feature's veterinary medical wellness, pet food and supplies and boarding and foster for animals. The program is supported by a paid veterinary staff, veterinary volunteers and veterinary medical students in a non-profit environment.

Credit the vision of Drs. Ruthanne Chun and William Gilles for the concept genesis in 2014. The success of this program, providing veterinary medical care to an unmet demand, brings WisCARES to the threshold of expansion. This novel model works. Let's look to expand this model, let's find opportunity to employ more veterinarians. What an opportunity to leverage the human-animal bond, increasing access to pets' and humans' healthcare. This certainly is not the traditional model of veterinary practice, but a highly effective model of veterinary practice.

Once again, I challenge the WVMA membership to - seize the opportunity, get creative and devise business models maintaining these activities to benefit the profession. Support Drs. Chun and Gilles; consider the model; how can the profession leverage 23,000,000 pets without access to healthcare? The need is great!

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