By Dr. Becker
Today I have a very special guest, Dr. Jean Hofve. We're speaking rather urgently via Skype about yet another misguided resolution the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is putting to a vote this Saturday (yes, tomorrow).
As some of you may recall, the AVMA recently passed a resolution discouraging raw diets for pets. This latest resolution is intended to discourage the use of homeopathy in veterinary medicine.
In case you're not familiar with Dr. Jean, she's a retired holistic veterinarian who co-authored The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care: An Illustrated Handbook, With Celeste Yarnell. She has also written hundreds of articles, lectured throughout the U.S., and appeared on TV and radio stations around the world. Dr. Jean's website, Little Big Cat, has a wealth of information on feline health, nutrition and behavior. She currently lives in Denver with four kitties: Flynn, Puzzle, Sundance and Spencer.
Anti-Homeopathy Resolution Slipped in Through the Back Door
Dr. Jean has written a blog post on her website everyone needs to read concerning the proposed AVMA anti-homeopathy resolution.
The AVMA is basing its position solely on a 32-page white paper titled "The Case Against Homeopathy" that states homeopathy is ineffective and its use should be discouraged. According to Dr. Jean's sources, the white paper was written by a vocal opponent of holistic medicine in all its forms, and was submitted to the AVMA under the sponsorship of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association (VMA).
The anti-homeopathy resolution is shocking not only to veterinary homeopaths around the world, but also, hopefully, to every veterinarian in Connecticut, holistic or otherwise. Apparently, the veterinary community in that state was not asked for their input on the resolution!
According to Dr. Jean, the resolution came to the AVMA's attention through a "weird little procedural back door." It's Dr. Jean's understanding that it will be voted on by the AVMA Executive Board on Saturday, and then go to the House of Delegates (HOD). The normal procedure for these resolutions is that they come up through the HOD or standing committees first, and are then referred to the Executive Board. At the annual conference in July, everyone gets an opportunity to talk about them, and they are voted on by the entire House of Delegates. There are over 100 delegates from 50 states and allied associations. They usually go along with the recommendation of the Executive Board.
This is concerning for the precedent it could set in getting AVMA resolutions passed without expert testimony (in this case, the testimony of veterinary homeopaths and other subject experts), and indeed, without the majority of AVMA's voting membership made aware of proposed resolutions. (Proposed resolutions are published in JAVMA just prior to the conference. I suspect not many vets read them.)
Who, Exactly, is Behind the Resolution?
I asked Dr. Jean to elaborate if possible on just who is behind the anti-homeopathy white paper upon which the AVMA based its resolution. What are this person's credentials regarding the practice of veterinary homeopathy?
Dr. Jean responded there is one primary driver behind this information, among a small group of "skeptics" who are dedicated to abolishing complementary and alternative veterinary medicine. This individual apparently pushed to bring it to the AVMA for a vote, but while Dr. Jean knows who the person is, she must respect his privacy because he published the white paper anonymously.
Dr. Jean then pointed out, and I certainly agree, that if a person isn't proud enough of his work to put his name on it, that fact alone should raise red flags for anyone who is using that work as the sole basis for passing such an important resolution.
A white paper is intended to be an unbiased, "just the facts, ma'am" type of document. In this case, it is completely biased and comes only from the anonymous author's point of view. He cherry-picked the data he used to the point it is essentially meaningless. And as far as Dr. Jean is concerned, the white paper is full of innuendos and attempts to slide around the truth … bending and twisting it every which-way.
What's really frustrating is this supposedly unbiased white paper is full of biased information, is authored by a person who apparently didn't feel comfortable putting his name to it, and who did not consult with a single veterinary homeopath or other expert in homeopathy for the purpose of presenting a balanced approach to the topic.
Why Didn't the AVMA Solicit Input on the Resolution from Veterinary Homeopaths?
Dr. Jean further pointed out that when the AVMA was presented with the anti-homeopathy resolution and the anonymously authored white paper, it could not be bothered to get the other side of the story. Astonishingly, the AVMA didn't contact either the AHVMA or the AVH (Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy) for input.
(Just so we're clear, the AVMA is the professional association most DVMs in the U.S. are affiliated with, regardless of their practice philosophy – traditional/conventional, integrative, holistic, etc. Then there's the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA), which is for DVMs who also or exclusively practice holistic veterinary medicine. Under the holistic umbrella are various associations for DVMs who practice specific alternative/complementary therapies like homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, etc.)
Fortunately, and for whatever good it may do, the AHVMA and the AVH were on high alert based on some other things that have gone on recently. So they got wind early of the AVMA anti-homeopathy resolution and were able to respond. (You can find the AHVMA's response here.) According to Dr. Jean, this has been going on for a month or two behind the scenes, which is why she was able to dig into the white paper, study the so-called "science" behind it, and write her own excellent response, which you can find here.
A Dangerous Trend
The Connecticut VMA has already passed a resolution discouraging the use of homeopathy, and the resolution now sits with the AVMA. I asked Dr. Jean what we can expect if it passes, which we anticipate it will. Where will people seeking professional homeopathic guidance for their pets turn?
Dr. Jean responded that vets who are currently using homeopathy aren't going to stop, and pet owners who seek it out will still be able to find it. But what the resolution, if passed, will do in a broader sense is give traditional vets an excuse to refuse to even consider homeopathy – because it has now been "proven" (via the AVMA resolution) to be ineffective, or worse. Practitioners who previously knew nothing about homeopathy will now know only false things about homeopathy.
I liken this to the recently passed AVMA resolution against raw pet food diets. For Dr. Jean and I, and all DVMs who understand species-appropriate nutrition, this is just absurd. It's like banning wolves from hunting rabbits because they could become sick. Since that ill-advised resolution passed, and now this anti-homeopathy resolution seems destined to pass as well, we seem to be on a slippery slope.
Is the AVMA Being Co-opted?
As Dr. Jean sees it, the AVMA is being co-opted by a small group of "anti-everything" people in the veterinary community who want to kill alternative medicine completely. First, raw food diets. Now, homeopathy. Next could be acupuncture, and on and on.
Dr. Jean mentioned that at the last AVMA conference, all the complementary and alternative medicine lectures were turned over to people who do not believe in most or all complementary and alternative therapies, so it does seem as though the AVMA has been taken over. And that's very concerning, because the AVMA has a lot of influence with veterinary practitioners in every community across the U.S.
So traditional veterinarians up and down Main Street USA who know nothing about alternative therapies are being given "permission" to make judgments against, in this example, raw feeding and homeopathy, based on the professional recommendations of their governing veterinary organizations.
This has the potential to deny veterinary clients and their pets access to therapies that could be preventive or curative. It also has the potential, in a "Big Brother" sort of way, to severely limit the ability of holistic and integrative vets to practice the kind of medicine they wish to practice -- and have been trained and certified to practice.
It's a scary, concerning and frustrating trend. And as Dr. Jean rightfully pointed out, these AVMA resolutions will discourage veterinarians who are interested in learning alternative modalities from pursuing the appropriate training and education. Ultimately, complementary and alternative veterinary medicine could fade away entirely, which is exactly what the "anti-everything" crowd is hoping for.
What You Can Do … TODAY
I asked Dr. Jean what she thinks pet owners who want alternative therapies to remain available should do in light of the recent AVMA resolutions.
She thinks people should contact the AVMA. Public outcry did do a little good in the anti-raw pet food battle, though a revised resolution ultimately passed. Dr. Jean thinks the AVMA would be very surprised to get an earful from pet owners on the proposed anti-homeopathy resolution as well. And she encourages pet owners to tell the AVMA their stories, if applicable, about the benefits their dog, cat or other companion animal has received from alternative therapies.
Contact information for the AVMA is below. Remember that the vote is tomorrow (Saturday, January 5), so if you want to weigh in, you should do it via email, phone or fax right away:
Let the AVMA hear from you, their veterinary clients, that you will no longer do business with DVMs who refuse to consider or open their minds to alternative therapies. Let the AVMA know that with these latest resolutions, they are no longer serving clients who want the ability to seek out a variety of healing modalities for their pets. And let them know that ultimately, their members will lose income as pet owners turn to other types of practitioners for their holistic pet care needs.
I would add that it is also very important for those of you who believe in the benefits of alternative veterinary medicine to support your local holistic vet, if you have one in your area.
Dr. Jean also encourages any traditional DVMs who aren't willing to close the door entirely on all complementary and alternative therapies to contact the AVMA personally and voice your concerns.
With a vote tomorrow, we have very little time to weigh in on the anti-homeopathy resolution, so please take a few minutes right now to email, call or fax a letter to the AVMA and voice your concerns about this latest resolution and what seems to be a dangerous trend toward killing off the practice of holistic veterinary medicine altogether.
My thanks to Dr. Jean Hofve for her time today and for all the work she has done toward trying to defeat both the anti-raw food and now the anti-homeopathy AVMA resolutions.