AKC eNewsletter

Building Bridges

A better-educated vet can be a breeder's best friend.
By Connie Vanacore

Mary Bloom
A good relationship with your vet can be a breeder's best friend.

A veterinarian is to a breeder what a pediatrician is to a parent. Breeders rely on veterinarians for everything, from routine vaccinations to the most sophisticated treatments for exotic diseases. Yet, purebred dog fanciers and veterinarians in general have too often maintained a wary relationship, to the detriment of both.

Over the past few years, the AKC has sought to improve the understanding of our mission by actively engaging the veterinary community in a variety of ways.

For several years the AKC has offered scholarships to students enrolled in the 28 American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) accredited schools of veterinary medicine in the United States. Through the generous sponsorship of Bayer K9 Advantix for the 2007–2008 school year, the AKC has awarded 23 veterinary scholarships and 25 scholarships to students enrolled in academic veterinary technician programs. These total $170,000. AVMA, through its education and accreditation committees, provides assurance to the AKC that its scholarship funds go to fully recognized schools whose graduating students must pass rigorous licensing examinations.

In addition, Bayer has underwritten the cost of sending the AKC Complete Dog Book to 2,800 fourth-year vet students in all 28 colleges.
These initiatives were instituted through the impetus of the AKC Delegates Canine Health Committee, which recognized the importance of veterinarians to the purebred dog fancy. The goal was to make available information, both through a web site and through personal contacts, to veterinarians and veterinary students.

For instance, the committee learned that almost no education was available to students about breed-specific diseases. To address these problems, the AKC Board established the Veterinary Outreach program. Starting with a web site and progressing to individual visits to veterinary schools and AVMA seminars, Veterinary Outreach will attend six veterinary conferences by the end of 2007 and plans to visit several colleges and conferences in 2008.

Strength in Numbers
Under the guidance of the Delegate Canine Health Committee, Veterinary Outreach has developed programs that interested all-breed clubs can use to build greater rapport and involvement with veterinary schools in their regions. All this is done by a small but dedicated and enthusiastic staff led by Debra Bonnefond, under the direction of Assistant Vice President Keith Frazier.

The AKC Board has also established a liaison with top officers at AVMA to foster better relationships between the two organizations. Several productive meetings have been held at AKC headquarters in New York. In addition to some eye-opening information concerning the scholarship program and other efforts in canine health, the veterinarians received a tour of the AKC’s beautiful collection of canine art and its impressive library.

Why is the alliance of AVMA and the AKC important? Because there is strength in numbers. Both groups are dedicated to the health and well-being of animals. Together they are pledged to work for better legislation, and for better and more informed care and research into the diseases that affect the animals we breed and which veterinarians must treat. As one example, AVMA officials did not know until recently how important contributions to canine health through the AKC Canine Health Foundation are to veterinary research.

Through its own resources AVMA can bring pressure to bear on veterinary schools to provide the courses about purebred dogs, breed-specific diseases, and clinical studies beneficial to breeders. The more understanding we build between veterinarians and dog owners, the greater the benefits to all.

Connie Vanacore is the Irish Setter Club of America’s AKC Delegate, past ISCA president, and author of The Official Book of the Irish Setter.

  Ronald N. Rella, director, Breeder Services
Email: AKCbreeder@akc.org
Customer Service | Phone: 919-233-9767 | Email: info@akc.org

© The American Kennel Club 2007