Veterinarians Need To Be Included In Proposition 2 Implementation

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) thanks the citizens of California for taking the time to consider and vote on Proposition 2. Now that it's passed, extra care -- and the advice of veterinarians and animal welfare scientists -- must be employed to ensure its implementation doesn't hurt the animals it's intended to help.

"It was encouraging to see voters in California take such an interest in animal welfare," says Dr. Ron DeHaven, CEO of the AVMA. "Now that the ballot initiative has passed, veterinarians and animal welfare scientists must be involved in its implementation to make sure that resulting changes in animal housing actually improve conditions for the animals they are intended to help. If we're not careful, animal health and welfare problems could be precipitated that are as significant as the concerns Proposition 2 aspires to address.

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Close to $16 million was spent by those promoting their views on Proposition 2 in California, which sets new standards for livestock housing in that state. Dr. DeHaven points out that the same investment could have gone a long way toward improving conditions for livestock across the country if it had been used to help develop science-based and practical solutions to animal welfare problems.

"We agree that more attention needs to be paid to the behavioral well being of production animals. In doing so, we don't want to be singularly focused on just providing additional space, as is the case with Prop 2. For example, moving laying hens to free-range production systems may allow them to engage in more species-typical behaviors, but it also increases the hens' risks of illness and injury because it increases their exposure to disease vectors and predators," explains Dr. Gail Golab, head of the AVMA's Animal Welfare Division.

Dr. Golab says the AVMA can help California producers protect the welfare of their animals by providing information gained from research at home and abroad on alternative production systems.

"We can use this information to help avoid animal welfare pitfalls as we assist California farmers in meeting the requirements of Proposition 2," Dr. Golab explains.

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