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AVMA Testifies at Senate Hearing on GAO Veterinary Shortage Report
Date:2/26/2009

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The chief executive of the nation's largest veterinary association appeared before a Senate subcommittee today, addressing an alarming new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that details a dangerous shortage of veterinarians available to fill critical positions in the federal government.

Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, CEO of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Workforce Subcommittee that the federal veterinary shortage described in the GAO report could have profound effects on animal and public health.

The GAO report, "Veterinarian Workforce Actions Are Needed to Ensure Sufficient Capacity for Protecting Public Health," depicts a grave scenario of federal agencies that face a lack of current and future veterinarians to fill critical positions. For example, the report states that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has an on-the-job vacancy rate of up to 35 percent, and the agency's Agriculture Research Service has a 12 percent shortage of mission-critical veterinarians. According to the report, 27 percent of veterinarians employed by the U.S. Army, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the USDA are eligible to retire within three years.

Should a catastrophic event occur, such as the introduction of a disease devastating to the food animal population, the GAO determined that workforce shortages could stress federal agencies' response.

"It is alarming to see in black-and-white how ill-prepared our nation appears to be in the event of a major animal disease outbreak, or worse, a pandemic," Dr. DeHaven told the subcommittee. "Equally disconcerting is the lack of an integrated approach for assessing the current and future needs of the veterinary workforce by many federal agencies that rely on veterinarians to f
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SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association
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