At the Nov. 8-11 AVMA/AAVMC Joint International Educational Symposium on Animal Welfare at MichiganStateUniversity, beef cattle veterinarian Dave Sjeklocha, DVM, Sublette, Kan., who was attending on behalf of the Academy of Veterinary Consultants, gave Bovine Veterinarian his thoughts on the veterinarian’s role in animal welfare. The meeting, “Swimming with the Tide – Animal Welfare in Veterinary Medical Education and Research”, had over 200 veterinarians, educators, students, animal scientists and animal welfare experts in attendance.

Bovine Veterinarian: Why do you think this was an important meeting?

Dave Sjeklocha: It has brought AW to a wide and diverse audience and provided an excellent means of dialog for that diverse group.  It has been very thought-provoking.

BV: Do you think beef cattle veterinarians need to become more cognizant of welfare issues?

DS: Yes.  We have some very basic issues that we need to consider.  Putting our heads in the sand and telling the consumer to “leave us alone, we know what we are doing” is not acceptable.  The consumer is interested in animal welfare and if we do not provide the information they are seeking, they will find someone else to provide it.

BV: What do you think the role of the food-animal veterinarian is in food-animal welfare?

DS: Information, guidance, education, and training. Veterinarians have relationships with producers, consumers and other scientists.  We are skilled in critical evaluation of science.  We must be willing to tell it like it is and when we see unacceptable behavior, we need to address it.