Political Issues

Threatening Veterinarians Today

WA Veterinarian Magazine

by Kathy Hickey, DVM

Nov/Dec 2016

As I sit down to write this article, our country is faced with major division on who is the best candidate to run our country as President of the United States. I’ve been encouraged by the passion of my friends, family, and colleagues in having strong opinions for one candidate or another. I’ve been surprised and saddened by the division and anger of individuals and groups, both in person and on social media. By the time this article is posted we will have a newly elected leader. Regardless of the outcome, the American people will not be in full agreement that the individual chosen has our best interests at heart.

Strong, effective representation is important to the success of our country. Similarly, it is also critical to the success and vitality of our profession. There are many political issues threatening veterinarians today, from the economic environment to impending federal and state pharmaceutical regulation changes, as well as to potentially looming animal rights issues.

As we shared with you at our annual conference, our Board of Directors recently went through a restructuring process that required us to ask the question: “Should the WSVMA exist?” After careful consideration, we decided the answer is Yes! The number one reason that influenced our answer was our ability to provide advocacy. If the WSVMA is not fighting for the interests of Washington veterinarians, who will? Unfortunately, it could fall to the non-veterinary public such as animal rights groups or impersonal corporations. We decided that WSVMA has the ability to represent every individual veterinarian in the state, and through our collective voice we have the power to affect our current and future professional environment.

To achieve our mission and vision as advocates for the veterinarians of our state, WSVMA employs the skills and knowledge of Greg Hanon as our legislative advocate. He has over 30 years of experience working with the state legislative body and state government and 31 years of partnership with WSVMA specifically. As WSVMA’s legislative advocate, he keeps a constant eye on issues that are pending or could potentially affect our profession. Through his connections he is also able to open dialog and provide feedback to state government and legislators on the veterinary profession and our prospective on issues.

WSVMA is always at work watching and anticipating changes in the political environment within and outside of our state (such as the presidential election). We use every resource available to guard the interests of our profession. For example, on the horizon are potential changes in B&O tax increases, pharmacy laws making compounding or use of compounded drugs extremely difficult or illegal for veterinarians, and potential resurgence of the Fairness to Pet Owners Act. To address these issues and potential changes, WSVMA Board of Directors has created a task force on our pharmacy laws in order to stay apprised of all potential legal changes. Lastly, the board of directors is currently considering the necessity of writing legislation to address veterinary specific uses of compounded medications.

Yes, some of us will be pleased and others disappointed with the outcome of this year’s Presidential election. But the veterinarians in our state are fortunate, as through the WSVMA and our connections, our profession is and will be adequately represented to our state government. Rest assured that while many of us are simply focusing on getting through each day, our profession has an amazing state organization, Board of Directors, and Legislative Advocate who are committed to supporting the financial health of our practices and industry, preserving our ability to provide exceptional patient care without limitation or difficulty, and proactively addressing any other issues which may threaten the health and quality of our profession.