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Thursday, May 12, 2005 - COLLEGE STATION - The world of
veterinary medicine is changing faster than at any time in its
history, Bonnie Beaver, professor of veterinary medicine and
current president of the American Veterinary Medical Association,
said Thursday during commencement ceremonies at Texas A&M
Beaver, addressing the 123 graduates who received their degrees
from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences,
said "The profession is changing faster than ever, and let me give
you an example. A high school counselor told me that 'girls could
not become veterinarians.' I became one of two women in my
veterinary class and had job offers of significantly less money
than my male colleagues were offered.
"Since then, I have received invitations to present seminars
around the world and on 9-11, I watched CNN and the BBC from a
hotel room in Rio de Janeiro where I was presenting a paper on dog
bite prevention. Last July, the little girl from rural Minnesota
who was told she couldn't be a veterinarian became president of the
American Veterinary Medical Association. The profession is
Beaver said that bioterrorism will be a challenge for the class
"After a simulation exercise of the introduction of foot and
mouth disease, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Ann Venimin
said, 'We know that veterinarians will be among the first
responders to acts of bioterrorism,'" Beaver noted.
"Not only will we be dependent on first responders to control
the outbreak, we will be very dependent on veterinarians to educate
the public about what is going on. Back in the 'dark ages' we
would roll our eyes at the mere mention of a foreign animal disease
- it only existed in some other world.
"Now that other world may be used against us."
Among the 123 graduates receiving diplomas was Pat Ryan, a
Houston resident who at age 57 is the oldest person ever in Texas
to receive a veterinary medicine degree. Ryan plans to work
at a small animal clinic in Houston.
Beaver said the bond between humans and animals will always be a
strong one, but even it undergoes changes.
"The human-animal bond is a double-edged sword," she
"Animals are often called family members, and that of course
attracts vultures who want to make owners into 'guardians' and
others who want to sue for the intangibles like emotional
"Until that owner is willing to pay the veterinarian an amount
equal to that paid a surgeon, anesthesiologist and hospital for a
human hysterectomy, an animal is really not an equal. While there
are owners who are willing to pay anything for their animal, most
put limits on their spending.
"Our profession, and thus our clients, cannot afford the
malpractice insurance premiums that our physician colleagues have
to spend which result from unrealistic legal settlements.
"We are a small profession," she added.
"Every veterinarian in the United States could fit into Kyle
Field with seats left over. But that makes every voice
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843
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