Westgate Pet Clinic employees several USDA accredited veterinarians. What exactly is an accredited veterinarian and what role do they play in animal health?
Hundreds of thousands of animals move across our borders every year via exports and imports. How do we protect our food supply and prevent the introduction of unwanted diseases that may not only affect our animal population, but may also impact the human population as well? What line of defense can we, as a country, muster against potential bioterrorism?
The branch of government that is responsible for overseeing the movement of animals and plants internationally is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in conjunction with individual country animal health organizations. The USDA also has oversight of interstate travel of animals in cooperation with individual state animal health organizations.
In addition to employing federal veterinarians, the USDA has cooperated with private veterinarians and developed the National Veterinary Accreditation Program (NVAP). This program trains private practitioners on the rules and regulations of animal importation and exportation. In addition, this program educates veterinarians on foreign animal diseases (FAD). FAD are diseases that do not occur in the United States or have been eradicated. The incursion of these diseases however, can have not only significant economic consequences (particularly in relation to livestock and food animals) but also the potential for human health impact.
As a USDA accredited veterinarian, we are responsible for the examination of animals prior to travel, the administration of vaccines and treatments necessary for exportation and lab tests (ie: Rabies titers) that may be indicated.
The requirements for export of animals to certain commonwealths that are free of rabies can be particularly stringent and complicated. Treatments, administration of vaccines and or diagnostic test all must be done in accordance with their guidelines set forth. If they are not done properly, they can deny or delay entry of an animal or whole herd into a territory. This can result in significant delays and costly expenditures for the pet owner on top of the emotional distress of having a potential quarantine for several months. In those cases, travel is often coordinated between an accredited veterinarian, a travel agency with significant experience and the local USDA administration office to ensure all paperwork is filled out properly and the tests and treatments are all done and exact requirements.
FAD recognition is a significant task of an accredited veterinarian. This is in relation to the importation of dogs from foreign countries for adoption. Animals are inspected and required to have certain treatments done prior to the importation in United States, but some diseases take several days to weeks to manifest. Hence the travel history or origination of a certain patient can be very important in determining possibilities and recommended diagnostic tests. If a FAD is
suspected, the USDA must be immediately contacted to obtain the necessary testing. Some tests need to be carried out at specific laboratories due to the unique nature of FAD.
The responsibilities above are just a sample of what Accredited Veterinarians do. Westgate Pet Clinic is proud of the quality and myriad of veterinary services we offer to our pets and clients. Having Accredited Veterinarians on staff is another way we feel we can best care for not only our individual pets, but also for the pet population as a whole, and even human health.