UF veterinary students advocate for legislation on Capitol Hill

Congressman Ted  Yoho

Rep. Yoho speaks to the fly-in participants about the House Veterinary Medicine Caucus and legislation that impacts the veterinary profession and animal health and welfare. (Photo by Scott Nolen/AVMA News)

Teresa Duthie and Grace White, both students at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, traveled to Washington D.C. in February to participate in the American Veterinary Medical Association’s 2014 Legislative Fly-in. It was an opportunity to learn more about government and meet with members of Congress on issues important to veterinary medicine.

More than 100 veterinary students and veterinarians gathered in the nation’s capital to take part in the fly-in. The two-day event gave participants the chance to learn more about the federal legislative process and urge their members of Congress to support legislation that impacts veterinarians and the health and welfare of animals.

“We are very fortunate at the AVMA to have a well-established Governmental Relations Division based in Washington, D.C., that tracks more than 50 legislative issues on behalf of the association, but their work can only go so far,” said Dr. Clark Fobian, AVMA president. “Our nation’s leaders want to hear how bills in Congress affect their constituents, and the AVMA Legislative Fly-in gives AVMA members and veterinary students a unique opportunity to come to the U.S. Capitol to share their personal experiences and advocate for bills that will enhance the veterinary profession and protect animal health and welfare. We are very excited to see so many veterinary students and veterinarians step forward to take part in the political process and help shape laws for the future of veterinary medicine.”

The participants focused their meetings with elected officials and their staff on a few high-priority pieces of legislation for the AVMA, including: the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (H.R. 1125/S. 553); the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (H.R. 1528); the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (H.R. 1518/S. 1406); and the Horse Transportation Safety Act (S. 1459). The participants also heard from veterinarian and U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla. and a 1983 graduate of the UF veterinary college), who is one of co-founders of the House Veterinary Medicine Caucus, and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).

“As veterinarians, we always look at things a little bit differently,” Yoho said to the participants. “In Washington, I often see Congress giving an aspirin to a brain tumor and not treating the underlying cause, but as veterinarians, we understand how to identify and diagnose the problem so we can treat it effectively. I encourage all of the veterinarians who are participating in AVMA’s Capitol Hill day to stay engaged and get involved in politics because you can help to make America a better country and leave more opportunities for Americans and veterinarians in the future.”

Seventy-one of the participants were students, representing nearly every veterinary college in the United States. The remaining participants included members of the AVMA Executive Board and veterinarians from throughout the country.

This year’s legislative fly-in was sponsored by the AVMA, the Student American Veterinary Medical Association and Banfield Pet Hospital. It is the sixth time AVMA’s Governmental Relations Division has hosted this event.

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