needed to evaluate the knowledge of this group of owners and their likely motivation for reporting suspected disease outbreaks.
For companion animals and wildlife, the situation is even more uncertain. With the exception of some large charismatic and commercially viable species, there is little economic incentive to survey animal health, and in some cases, an absence of financially remunerated attendants responsible for monitoring husbandry. In these cases, recognition of a disease abnormality by people not associated with the immediate habitat is due to both diligence and chance. An astute owner may seek advice on first blush of a disorder in a companion animal, or alternatively, a group of companion animals may become quite ill prior to any abnormality being reported outside of the immediate surrounding. For wildlife, especially wildlife outside the oversight of zoo veterinarians and handlers, the situation can be even more uneven. For large and charismatic species (e.g., chimpanzees, giraffes, dolphins), detection of anomalies may occur at the early stages of disease development; however, with the majority of wild species (e.g., rodents, small birds, reptiles), disease may become widespread before it is recognized by people not associated with the immediate habitat.
The goals of the veterinary profession in the United States, as embodied in the oath taken by its members, are to protect animal health, relieve animal suffering, conserve animal resources, promote public health, and advance medical knowledge. In 1994, 56,000 veterinarians were active in the profession. In 2004, that number had grown to 65,000, a 16 percent increase. The profession is expected to grow another 25 percent in the next 10 years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 28,000 job openings by 2012 due to growth and net replacements—a turnover of nearly 38 percent (AAVMC, 2004). Present employment of veterinarians is described in Table 2-1. Each state is responsible for licensing veterinarians and for regulating private veterinary practice (AVMA, 2004a).
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), established in 1863, serves as the lead professional body for veterinarians in the United States. It is an organization largely driven by private practitioners, the majority of whom are in companion animal practice and AVMA’s primary activities are a reflection of the membership. It has a significant influence on veterinary education through its accreditation process administered by the Council on Education (COE). The AVMA also promulgates many and varied policy statements and guidelines that bear on animal health and welfare and on public health.
The United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) is another key organization dealing with agricultural animal health and disease is-