Frequently Asked Questions

What does the HSVMA acronym stand for?

Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association

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What is HSVMA's Mission Statement?

To protect and advocate for animals while providing leadership and service opportunities that support a humane veterinary profession.

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Why was HSVMA founded?

In 2004, there were a number of discussions between the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) staff about the possibility of joint projects and activities. A proposed letter to members of Congress was drafted on a number of non-controversial animal issues (for example, including pets in disaster evacuation planning) to be signed by both Dr. Henry Childers, AVMA president, and Wayne Pacelle, HSUS' CEO. Unfortunately, AVMA's Executive Committee rejected the initiative.

As a result of this and other disappointing interactions with the AVMA, The HSUS leadership team embarked on creating a partnership with veterinarians whose needs were not being fully served and whose views were not being represented by the AVMA. Out of this collaboration, HSVMA was established in 2008 with goals and programs aligned with the mission statement above.

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What is the relationship between HSVMA and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR)?

The HSUS combined with AVAR in 2008 as part of its effort to increase its capacity in advocacy by veterinary professionals. Some of the veterinary members of AVAR have now become members of the HSVMA, and some of the AVAR staff stayed on to become staff for HSVMA.

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What is the relationship between HSVMA and Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS)?

RAVS, which has historically been a division of The HSUS, now falls under the umbrella of HSVMA and is their direct veterinary care program. HSVMA Rural Area Veterinary Services is a successful veterinary outreach program combining community service and veterinary education. We bring free veterinary services to under-served, rural communities domestically and internationally where poverty and geographic isolation make regular veterinary care inaccessible.

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What is the relationship between HSVMA and The HSUS?

HSVMA is incorporated as a 501(c)3 organization with its own Board of Directors and Leadership Council. HSVMA is an affiliate organization of The HSUS. The HSUS provides the budget for the HSVMA-RAVS program. In addition, The HSUS is providing supplemental budgetary support for the HSVMA Advocacy programs. HSVMA is addressing a need for more proactive animal advocacy in the veterinary profession.

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What is the relationship between HSVMA and AVMA?

HSVMA intends to apply to be an allied veterinary organization with the AVMA. HSVMA will also look for opportunities to encourage a more animal welfare-oriented AVMA agenda and partner with them if policies and positions align with HSVMA initiatives.

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Isn't HSVMA just a figurehead organization for The HSUS?

No. Membership in HSVMA does not require HSUS membership, and many current HSVMA members are not, in fact, associated with The HSUS. Though The HSUS supports and provides funding for many of the programs and initiatives undertaken by HSVMA, HSVMA's board has its own members and its own agenda.

While some HSVMA efforts will naturally “dovetail” with The HSUS' efforts, HSVMA does not necessarily promote issues that The HSUS deems important. HSVMA will offer a decidedly veterinary perspective on issues, with 12 veterinary professionals on its Leadership Council and a Board of Directors that consists of three veterinarians and two non-veterinarians.

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Is HSVMA an animal rights organization?

The term “animal rights” causes more confusion than enlightenment. Many industries that exploit animals like to portray animal protection organizations, especially effective ones like The HSUS and HSVMA, as “animal rights” groups (the implication being that they are dangerous radicals). When the public is asked if they think that animals have rights, 70% or more usually agree that animals do. However, what the majority usually means is that they believe animals deserve consideration and should not be treated in ways that cause them pain and suffering.

HSVMA intends to offer a voice for those veterinary professionals who believe that intensive factory farming, puppy mills, non-therapeutic use of live animals for veterinary training, animal fighting operations, roadside zoos, use of chimpanzees in invasive research projects, and many more unnecessary human exploitations of animals are unwarranted and should be stopped or modified.

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Who can be a member of HSVMA?

Membership in HSVMA is restricted to veterinarians, veterinary technicians, veterinary students and veterinary technician students. However, HSVMA welcomes public supporters as well.

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Is HSVMA a national organization?

Yes. HSVMA has professional veterinary members in all 50 states.

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What is the leadership structure of HSVMA?

HSVMA has a Board of Directors that consists of veterinarians and non-veterinarians. The organization also has an advisory Leadership Council that consists of 12 veterinary professionals.

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Can a veterinary professional or veterinary student be a member of HSVMA and other veterinary professional organizations?

Yes. HSVMA encourages its veterinary professional and veterinary student members to be members of other veterinary organizations. HSVMA benefits from a diverse membership. Our professional members participate in a wide range of non-profit and animal protection organizations.

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How does HSVMA differ from other professional veterinary organizations?

HSVMA takes a stronger "pro-animal welfare" stand on a range of issues than AVMA. For example, HSVMA advocates for the elimination of antibiotic supplements from animal feeds (as do the American Medical Association and many other public health associations).

HSVMA actively campaigns for an end to the intensive confinement of livestock. HSVMA advocates for an end to the purchase and terminal use of animals in veterinary education programs. HSVMA opposes the animal exploitation, suffering and public misinformation associated with puppy mills, and encourages the adoption of dogs from local shelters and rescue organizations. HSVMA opposes all forms of non-therapeutic cosmetic surgery in animals, and though controversial, HSVMA opposes horse slaughter.

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Can HSVMA work together with AVMA?

Absolutely. There are many areas of agreement with AVMA where both organizations could pool their resources and talent. This might include addressing animal overpopulation; combating animal cruelty; promoting the prosecution of those convicted of dog fighting; and informing veterinary educators about effective, non-animal use models for veterinary training, to name just a few. Though agreement may not be possible on certain issues, constructive and frank discussion and debate may allow both organizations to promote their goals and refine their messages to the profession and the public.

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What are the benefits of HSVMA membership?

HSVMA provides veterinary student members access to its field clinics and provides invaluable hands-on training for veterinary students through those clinics. HSVMA makes summer grants available to veterinary student members who want to pursue animal welfare projects.

HSVMA provides a professional voice promoting a stronger animal welfare message for all those veterinary practitioners who feel that the veterinary establishment is too passive or too quiet when it comes to animal exploitation by large corporations for profit and by individuals in the name of sport or entertainment. HSVMA is interested in developing a range of programs (for example, a fund to help veterinary practices cover the costs of indigent care in their practices) that will help veterinary practices both do good work in their community and do well financially. Additionally, in late 2011 HSVMA launched a successful webinar series that offers continuing education credits for veterinary professionals.

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What specific programs and animal welfare issues does HSVMA support?

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What has HSVMA achieved?

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How can I get additional information about HSVMA?

If you have any questions about HSVMA programs and membership opportunities, please send us an email.