“It is a deep irony that, in the country in which the concepts of democracy and human rights were invented, that the rights to ‘due process’ of veterinarians facing complaints about their professional conduct are consistently violated. It is an indisputable fact that the rights of murderers and rapists who have destroyed the lives of people get more respect than the rights of veterinarians who, in the main, have committed no crime at all.”
[Dr David Carser, Veterinarian and Human Rights Lawyer, President VDA, 2017].
The success of any legal system lies in the balance between the two opposing parties. A criminal justice system in which the prosecution is strong and the defense is weak, would soon lead to oppression, subjugation, persecution and tyranny. No country with Rule of Law would ever allow this, yet this is what the US veterinary profession currently faces in the 21st century.
In most states the veterinary ‘prosecution’ system consists of state government professional licensing departments acting as consumer protectors backed by the state attorney’s office. The veterinary ‘defense’ system however, is largely a profit-driven, fragmented, ineffective insurance industry-controlled system supported and endorsed by the national and state veterinary associations, who support and endorse the prosecution system. It is the epitome of a strong prosecution vs a weak defense, and the results are clear to see: oppression, subjugation, persecution and tyranny.
A proper, objective analysis of the veterinary professional disciplinary system reveals that the defendant veterinarian faces prosecution by the very same group of people that provide him with his or her defence. It is no wonder then, that the veterinary profession, besides those veterinarians that operate within the ‘inner circles’ (’old-boys’ club) of state veterinary boards, state veterinary associations and the national veterinary association, live in constant fear of state veterinary board action against them. Most veterinarians, faced with overstated or even false allegations of failing to meet standards of care, are co-erced into signing so-called consent agreements in which they ‘admit’ guilt and face draconian penalties, with the veiled threat that if they do not sign away their lives and livelihoods, they will face the wrath of the veterinary board, the state prosecutor’s office and the government.
The veterinarians that serve on veterinary boards, who are placed there to give the board’s actions credibility, are usually nothing more than the minions of the government bureaucrat that evaluates the case, covering up the fact that the bureaucrat is nothing more than an autocrat. When challenged on their objectivity and independence, these veterinarians simply close ranks with their protector, thereby ending any debate or transparency.
The defense attorneys, controlled by the profit-driven insurers, usually do not have the required knowledge in veterinary medicine and veterinary law or the experience and/or motivation, which makes it an almost certainty that they are going to push the defendant veterinarian into accepting the bogus consent agreement. To make matters worse, these defense attorneys promote fear of the boards, by advising veterinarians not to defend themselves robustly for fear of angering the board’s bureaucrat that evaluates the case and determines how the board will determine the veterinarian’s fate.
There are states in which the veterinary board has a quota system, in which it is pre-determined that a number of veterinarians will sign consent agreements and will lose their licenses each year, whether justifiable or not.
The result is a veterinary justice system that is perverted and fundamentally lacks any real credibility and integrity.
For veterinarians, this means uncertainty, job dissatisfaction, intimidation, lack of confidence, stress, depression and suicide (the veterinary profession reportedly has the highest suicide rate in the world).
For animal owners, this means reliance on veterinarians that have lost their confidence in veterinary medicine, who are no longer prepared to commit to a diagnosis and who subliminally treat owners as a potential threat to their licenses. This loss in confidence by veterinarians in their diagnostic ability drives the practicing of defensive medicine, in which more and more unnecessary tests are ordered before the veterinarian is willing to take the risk of committing to a diagnosis and treatment. This drives up the cost of medicine and drives down the efficiency of medical care for animal owners, to the detriment of animals and animal owners. The ‘team approach’ of past, in which the owner is part of the solution, is being replaced with an ‘adversarial approach’, in which the fear of complaints displaces the commitment to the well-being of the animal, with the owner being regarded as a potential threat to the life and livelihood of the veterinarian.
The Veterinary Defence Association America is the only independent advocate for the veterinary profession in America.
Veterinarians are invited to join the VDA as part of a movement of veterinarians, with the primary interest or protecting the integrity of individual veterinarians and the veterinary profession at large.
Animal owners and other members of the public are invited to join the VDA as a “Friend of the VDA”.
We have set out the VDA’s Charter for a Fair and Proper Disciplinary Process against veterinarians conducted by veterinary boards across the world. It is up to the profession in each veterinary board’s jurisdiction to apply pressure to their veterinary board to replace their current processes based on these principles. The VDA will assist and co-ordinate the profession’s efforts against the boards. There are three unfortunate facts that make the veterinary profession one of the most suppressed and intimidated professions in existence.
Fact 1: When any person or group of people are given power, they will abuse that power unless the subjects governed by that person or group stands up for their rights. Veterinary boards are no exception.
Fact 2: The veterinary associations and groups that purport to be the advocate for, and the mouthpiece of the profession, are managed by the same group of veterinarians that control the veterinary boards, and therefore collude in every possible way to maintain the veterinary board’s status quo.
Fact 3: Veterinarians are appointed to veterinary boards to give the board the appearance of balance and credibility, but are nothing more than the minions of the board’s bureaucrats who wield the power at any cost to the profession.
The principles listed in the Charter are world best practice standards for veterinary boards. Therefore, by definition, any veterinary board that refuses to consider and adopt these principles is abusing its power.
VDA America headquarters are situated in Chicago, Illinois.