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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

Planting Seeds - Growing Tomorrow's Veterinarians

Growing up on a farm in north central Wisconsin, I had a natural affinity to animals. My first passion was horses; my Dad used draft horses in the woods for making maple syrup. Later I became enamored with cows, and enrolled in 4-H and showed them at the county fair for many years. This innate preference for animals was no doubt a significant factor that contributed to my career choice of a veterinarian.

As a 12-year-old boy, I was amazed at the abilities and insights of our veterinarian as he attended to our animals. I was amazed at his ability to determine the pregnancy status of our cows by rectal examination. Given the challenges of artificial insemination, the rectal examination results were sort of a “report card” so to speak of our efforts. I always eagerly awaited the diagnosis, and when the cow was not pregnant appreciated advice and/or treatment to help achieve that goal. Additionally, I valued his ability to solve problems. From sorting out why a cow was sick and how to make her better, to delivering a “stuck” calf, the veterinarian left the farm in better shape than when he came. While this type of practice is considered “fire engine” practice, it was the norm back then. The preventive health programs that are common today were just being developed at that time. The notion of helping people with their animals appealed to me.

My curiosity in veterinary medicine lead me to seek job shadowing opportunities while I was in high school and college. Our veterinarian graciously allowed me to ride along several times. I learned quickly what a large animal veterinarian’s day was like and decided to pursue that career.

Aside from my affinity to animals, my job shadowing experience ranks as the next most important factor that focused my efforts to become a veterinarian. Recognizing the importance of job shadowing, I have returned the favor to many youths considering veterinary medicine as a career. The majority of those that rode with me while I practiced were high school or undergraduate college students. I always discussed the wide spectrum of opportunities that exists in veterinary medicine with them and enjoyed their conversation.

School organized Career Days are another venue to tell young people about the opportunities in veterinary medicine. My practice associates and I have participated in many of these programs at our local high schools over the years.

At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve had great fun going into kindergarten classes to share some of the things I did as a cow doctor. I always got loud gasps when I showed them a cow aspirin and a hoof nipper, the bovine version of a fingernail clipper. Young children are fascinated with animals, and frequently rank veterinary doctor as what they want to be when they grow up.

I encourage you to embrace the opportunities to nurture young people’s interest in veterinary medicine. We have to plant the seeds that will grow into the next generation of veterinarians.

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