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Dear Members:

We are reeling with sadness by the violent events taking place in our country this week and recognize the deeply disturbing institutional racism against black Americans. While this conversation may be difficult, it is imperative as an organization that we speak up, and speak out against prejudice and injustice in our society and in our veterinary profession.

This is an extremely difficult time for individuals, families, businesses, our country, and around the world. Many people are suffering the acute emotional, social, and economic impacts of a global pandemic. This suffering is compounded by the heartbreak of senseless violence and death of innocent black men and women. We’ve been working on our Diversity and Inclusion strategic objective and it is apparent how central this topic must remain as we forge ahead in this new era. We remain united in our commitment to strengthen how our community cares for one another.

The WSVMA condemns all forms of racism and discrimination against any race, gender, creed, sexuality, age, and social categories and we are committed to standing up against injustice. We will continue to work together, with you, to enact positive change.
Take part in the conversation. Get involved locally and nationally. Make positive change happen.

The WSVMA Board of Directors and Staff, June 16, 2020

We condemn any racially motivated attacks and all discrimination. Every member of the veterinary profession is essential and valued.

With ongoing escalations in violence and “othering” against historically marginalized, victimized and disenfranchised people, we reiterate our dedication to effective collective action and ongoing conversations and learning to be both allies and agents of change. Through our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee efforts and those across the profession, we reaffirm the following approach to help guide and iterate those collaborative efforts:

“We recognize that there are valuable existing and ongoing DEI efforts, resources, and initiatives. With that in mind, we dedicate to aligning with, promoting, and supporting similar DEI efforts within the profession. In particular, we align our efforts and understandings with those stated in American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) Definition of Diversity and Principles of Inclusion.”

Conversation. Education. Coming alongside. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We will be most effective working together and understanding this must be woven permanently into the very fabric of our work.

The term othering means “view or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself.”
Approved by the WSVMA Board of Directors on Sept. 29, 2022

Pride Veterinary Medical Community developed the Gender Identity Bill of Rights (GIBOR), which is meant to address inequality and inequity within the veterinary profession. GIBOR outlines the basic rights needed for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people. The WSVMA Board of Directors approved signing the WSVMA in support for GIBOR on May 24, 2022.

At the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association, we are driven to advance the cause of veterinary medicine and those touched by it. While the core of our work is about animals, nothing can be done without the workforce that provides the necessary day-to-day support to ensure our businesses thrive. In the veterinary medicine sector, women make up the vast majority of the workforce – including veterinarians, technicians, assistants, practice managers, customer service representatives and other staff.

This summer, the United States Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision during the Dobbs vs. Jackson case. We are already seeing this decision having impacts on women in the workforce across the country. Washington State officials have shared that they will protect a women’s access to abortion care, so it may seem like this issue won’t impact our community, but that is not what is happening so far.

Medical care providers in Washington are already seeing an increase in requests for reproductive health services from patients outside of the state, causing delays in some communities for people who live in those areas to receive services. Healthcare providers are anticipating this trend to increase, especially for people who are low-income.

In veterinary medicine, many individual salaries place a person near or below the poverty level, which means much of the female workforce in the veterinary medicine sector may face real challenges in accessing healthcare across Washington – even though abortion stays legal. We assert that this decision could negatively impact recruitment and retention of veterinary students, interns, residents, technicians, and clinic staff members – all positions where we need more qualified people. As all hospitals saw during the pandemic, staffing challenges resulted in real impacts on patient care and client satisfaction.

Wellness is a serious issue in veterinary medicine and creating limitations based on one aspect of identity (in this case gender) can – and will – cause negative mental and physical health issues for people in our sector. We know colleagues are already dealing with the stress of engaging with clients who cannot afford care for their pet because of pandemic challenges, health issues, losing housing due to the eviction moratorium ending or increasing inflation. What will be the short and long-term impacts on a sector that relies on a predominantly female workforce?

While we respect diversity of thought, we believe the rights and equality of women should be expanded, not taken away. We stand with our human medical colleagues that are now navigating laws that interfere with their ability to provide the full spectrum of confidential reproductive health care to their patients.

Statement by members of the WSVMA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. Approved by the WSVMA Board of Directors, Oct. 1, 2022