I read with great interest the survey results and accompanying article on the looming shortage of rural veterinarians in August BEEF, “Where's Your Vet?” page 21). Thank you for addressing this. This shortage should be of major concern not only to the beef industry, but the veterinary profession and the general public.

It's a complex, challenging dilemma. With significant recognition among those constituencies most able to address the problem (legislators, food producers, consumers, students and veterinarians), we can make much more rapid progress.

Only by working together to relieve debt can we assure veterinarians trained to serve the public will stay in the rural community. Vets, and those of us who train vets, need to ask producers how we can best serve them, and vet schools need to work with industry to attract candidates; train them well; and then ensure they have satisfying livelihoods that provide ranchers and other animal producers with the support they need to have healthy, efficient operations.
Joan Hendricks, VMD, PhD
Dean of Veterinary Medicine
University of Pennsylvania School of Vet Medicine

Kudos on your vet study

I was just at Washington State University speaking to the Veterinary College students — specifically the Ag Animal Club. Your “Where's Your Vet?” article in the August issue was just the point I was trying to make. Please send me 30 copies of the issue to pass along to the students.
Herbert M. “Tim” Richards III, DVM
Kamuela, HI

Clarification on AVMA study

I enjoyed your August feature on rural, large-animal veterinary care. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) study you refer to was the result of work and funding by a coalition of groups comprising the Food Supply Veterinary Medicine Coalition. These include the Academy of Veterinary Consultants, American Association of Avian Pathologists, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians, American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, AVMA, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Additional funding was provided by Bayer Animal Health; and David Andrus, Kevin Gwinner and Bruce Prince of Kansas State University's College of Business Administration conducted the study.
Lyle P. Vogel, DVM, MPH
Director, AVMA Animal Welfare Division

Proponents aren't anti-meat

Regarding H.R. 503 (September “Editor's Roundup”), I wish to relieve the minds of cattlemen. Very few of the people I know fighting to stop horse slaughter for foreign profit and consumption would pass up a good steak. I have no desire to become a vegetarian, and neither do the majority of anti-horse-slaughter people.

Horses are simply different from cattle. The only people profiting from horse slaughter are three, foreign-owned slaughter plants; some large breeders who dump their breeding mistakes at a kill auction; and a few kill buyers who can't figure out another way to make a living.

USDA ignored Congress and the will of the people when they allowed the horse slaughter plants to pay their own inspectors. How in the world can you expect such inspectors to be totally unbiased toward the people paying their salary?
Patricia A. Cornell
Sanderson, FL

More thoughts on H.R. 503

Regarding H.R. 503, “The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act,” here are my thoughts on the matter:

  • Isn't this country wasteful enough? With all the needs of people around the world, we still have those who would heap the waste pile higher.

  • Isn't a meat animal in the eye of the beholder? To many people, deer, bear and racoon aren't meat animals, but they are to many people. It's the same with calves, goats, doves and even dogs and horses.

  • If folks opposed to horse slaughter would like to finance this program, they seem to be shy in coming forth. Domestic animals are chattel property; in this country, people get paid when government enacts laws to reduce the value of one's property. Most of us would not take $400 in cash out behind the barn and bury it, but this seems to be what the H.R. 503 people are asking.

A government ban on slaughter won't save the horses in question. As with gravity, the government can't repeal the laws of economics. Scarce resources have doomed these horses, one way or the other.
Paul Lawinger
Dodgeville, WI