Why CVMA? Three words: Advocacy, advocacy, advocacy

Why CVMA? Three words: Advocacy, advocacy, advocacy

In our Leadership Update column, CVMA leaders provide their perspectives on the veterinary profession in Colorado and the changing world around us. This column was written by Jackie Christakos, DVM, CVMA president 2020-2021.

“Why should I be a CVMA member?” 

I am asked this question frequently, and I relish the opportunity to bend the ear of our current and perspective members as to why I feel CVMA membership is critical for every Colorado veterinarian.

I could provide a list of tailored, practical continuing education (CE) opportunities offered by CVMA, but many other associations also provide high quality CE. We could discuss the member wellbeing and leadership training gained through our Power of 10 Leadership Academy experience; an extraordinary opportunity provided to CVMA members each year at no cost, but leadership training can be found through many avenues. CVMA’s Career Center, Care Grants, and special membership discount programs are just a few other perks to name a few.

However, my answer to this question is always the same: If CVMA offered none of these opportunities, the value of membership stands strong on its own if only for the advocacy we perform on behalf of our profession. I like to think of the CVMA as the guardians of veterinary medicine in Colorado; CVMA is truly the only organization advocating exclusively on our behalf in our state legislature.

This may seem like a small task if not directly involved in advocacy efforts, but to those of us testifying in the senate, delivering interviews concerning current issues, and sometimes even receiving hate mail from extremist groups, we live the time and effort committed to the protection of our profession through this work.

The importance of advocacy is currently clear with the Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation (PAUSE) Initiative or Ballot Initiative 16, a new citizen-initiated effort in Colorado. To the general public, this may seem like a positive initiative. Despite the deceptive name, the proposed changes to the current animal cruelty statutes would have troubling impacts on animal health and welfare and could criminalize many veterinary and animal husbandry procedures. Our veterinary oath includes the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, and the promotion of public health; this initiative fundamentally compromises all those pledges. We also swear to use our scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society. The time is now to use our knowledge in educating the general public why we as veterinary professionals are so concerned. The CVMA website has begun to compile helpful information to help facilitate these discussions.

Ballot Initiative #16 is just one of countless legislative issues with a serious impact on Colorado veterinarians in which CVMA advocates directly on our behalf. While each of us alone would never have the bandwidth to do this job, we have the strength and attention to monitor and act on important issues through an organized, unified association.

If you are looking for your continued CVMA membership “why,” think advocacy, advocacy, advocacy. Because as the saying goes, if you are not sitting at the table, you may end up on the menu.

–Dr. Jackie Christakos, CVMA president 2020-2021