College Station, Texas – Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a professor at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, assumed the Presidency of the American Veterinary Medical Association at a special installation ceremony on Tuesday, July 27, at the association’s national meeting in Philadelphia. Dr. Beaver is the second woman and the eighth veterinarian from Texas to serve as President of the 141-year old, 70,000-plus member organization.
In her Friday, July 23 speech to the opening session of the AVMA House of Delegates, Dr. Beaver identified three areas of importance for her presidency – Excellence – Communication – Animal Welfare. “As health care professionals,” said Dr. Beaver, “we are expected to deliver the highest quality of veterinary medicine in the private and public practice areas. For a small profession, we have a lot if responsibility. We serve two publics,” Dr. Beaver added, “the animals and the people.”
“The ability of our profession to meet the diverse needs of society is as strong as it has ever been. Our challenge is to keep it that way,” said Dr. Beaver. According to Dr. Beaver the AVMA is working on excellence in professional activities on many fronts, including education, diversity, productivity, and quality of life.
“Our educational evaluation programs will continue to undergo reevaluation and improvements to ensure they are the best. It is important that we all work to protect the educational excellence of our profession from challenges that are or will occur from inside our borders as well as outside,” said Dr. Beaver.
“In order to effectively serve society with excellence, the profession must promote diversity,” said Dr. Beaver. “This applies to diversity in the expertise we have, and it applies to the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of our colleagues,” she added. “How can we fully appreciate the nature of animal relations to the Native Americans, Asians, or Hispanics in our country,” asked Dr. Beaver, “if we do not seek out the best young people in those cultures?”
Communication establishes the relationship of veterinary medicine with society. The profession, according to Dr. Beaver, needs make a concerted effort to educate the public and even members of the profession about who veterinarians are and what we do. “As a small profession,” said Dr. Beaver, “we must all speak with one voice to be heard in defense of the animal and human publics we serve. We must be willing to listen to each other so that we become advocates for all segments of our profession.”
“Veterinarians,” said Dr. Beaver, “are the ultimate authorities on animal welfare, and it is important that we retain this authority in light of challenges by animal rightists and humane organizations, as has been made evident in recent newspaper attacks. As the world changes,” Dr. Beaver added, “our need to become more outspoken in this area has increased so that the image of the veterinarian being the one true advocate for the animal is not lost. Animal rightists are pushing their agenda in small increments under the guise of animal welfare and with mistruths.”
In order for veterinarians to hold the position as leaders in animal welfare, according to Dr. Beaver, “the AVMA must become more proactive in several areas. First we must recognize that the animal industry and the general public have been asking us to lead in this area. In fact,” added Dr. Beaver, “they expect it.”
Dr. Beaver has proposed and the AVMA Executive Board has accepted a recommendation to develop a Task Force on the Legal Status of Animals to address the hot topics of animal guardianship and non-economic status of animals.
“To retain a high visibility as leaders in animal welfare,” said Dr. Beaver, “the AVMA will need to increase time resources and efforts in the area. This,” she added, “will mean instituting and phasing in a Division of Animal Welfare within the AVMA, staffed by veterinarians who remain current on the global aspects of animal welfare science and issues, and who are respected throughout animal related industries.”
Dr. Beaver is a charter diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, and a former President of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Beaver is an internationally recognized authority on animal behavior, animal welfare and the human-animal bond. She has authored eight books, nearly 200 scientific articles, and presented over 400 seminars.
Dr. Beaver will serve as President of the American Veterinary medical Association, through the association’s 2005 meeting in Minneapolis, Minn., July 16-20, 2005. Established in 1916, the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the world’s leading institutions in animal health care and research.