From the President’s Desk . . . January/February 1997

From the President’s Desk . . . January/February 1997

A walk down the hall

By: Staff  Date: 01/8/1997 Category: | From the Offices of NAIA |

I write this message while taking a break from grading the last exam of the semester, inspired by observations of our veterinary student body at the University of Pennsylvania. To put my remarks in context, let me remind you of what Stephen Budiansky, author of The Covenant of the Wild, wrote for our March-April issue: “ I would argue that the very notion of animal 'rights' is a cold-blooded ideology that denies the true meaning of our connections with nature . . .The animal rightists present an arid, legalistic, formulaic, and ultimately heartless picture of man's relation with animals and the natural world. Those who work with animals live in a far richer and more meaningful world.”

That's not just one man's opinion: it's reality — as real as the walls in a building. In this case, the walls are those of the stairway and corridor leading to our students' lounge. They are alive with colorful bulletin boards advertising the activities of the various interest clubs our students have formed. Walk down with me and see what I mean.

On the first landing we see a colorful question: Have Ewe Any Wool? on the board of the Ruminant Club. Lots of pictures of different breeds of sheep with a few words about their characteristics adorn it. Then we find The Exotic Animal Club at the bottom of the stairs. Memories of a Friday Happy Hour when club members brought in various strange pets that I had crawling over me are there in the snapshots of students with their birds, iguana, snakes, ferrets and Thurston, a Blue-Streaked Lory. Thurston is a bird from New Guinea, well-described in captions (and obviously well-loved) by his owner, a student I taught last year.

Moving along the corridor we're at the Penn Wildlife Service's display. More animal pictures, of course, including one illustrating the repair of a Mallard's wing bone. It's this kind of interest and training that equips veterinarians to provide treatment of other, endangered species.

Through the doors and into the hallway we come to the bulletin boards of clubs associated with the traditional species that occupied my student years: the Canine Club, the Equine Club and the Feline Club. No less colorful though. Also informative about breed characteristics, rescue activities and the like.

The Penn Vet Aquatics Club display is the last in the hallway just before we enter the lounge. No swim team pictures here but alot of information about a relatively new branch of veterinary medicine: fish and aquatic animal medicine. The world of the future will look to their expertise as it seeks to maintain it food supply.

We did skip one board on the tour, though, just before we went through the doors. But it's not hard to miss. There is a sign of course: Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights. That's it except for a packet of position statements against this and that and riddled with misinformation dangling from one corner. But there are no pictures of the joyful interactions with animals that the other boards contained. How could there be?

Adrian R. Morrison, DVM PhD
President, NAIA

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