AVA Election 1999

Tom Lonsdale and Breck Muir are candidates for positons on the board of the Australian Veterinary Association. The 1999 election will be the seventh election that they have contested. For background information please consult Tom Lonsdale's Home Page

Nomination for position of President Elect of the AVA for Dr Tom Lonsdale 1999

Since 1990 I have worked alongside Tom in private practice and community service. He is a professional of the old style who sees the big picture but nonetheless concentrates on the detail. His unstinting commitment to the needs of the profession, community and the animals under our care has brought international acclaim.

Examples of Tom's work can be found at: www.rawmeatybones.com

Tom's programme for the future, commencing with removal of pet food company sponsorship, is essential for the well being of our Association. We owe it to ourselves and our patients to give him our vote.

Alan Bennet.

1999 AVA Elections . Manifesto of Dr Lonsdale

In recent years material relating to the 'Raw Meaty Bone' campaign was banned from the pages of the Australian Veterinary Journal. Likewise criticism of the AVA Board and performance of the AVA was suppressed. Simultaneously, in my opinion, AVA members continue to be fed a steady diet of false and misleading propaganda via the advertisements of trans-national corporations and the pseudo-science of 'researchers' utilising or hoping to utilise trans-national corporations' money. However at election time an opportunity for comment arises. Now eight years into the campaign to change the damaging artificial pet food culture of the AVA I believe that it is time for a brief review.

Back in December 1991 Breck Muir and I both published articles demonstrating the devastating effects of diet and periodontal disease on the health of domestic pets. The AVA and the Pet Food Manufacturers Association attempted to quell the discussion but soon the AVA News letters column became a place of spirited debate. I took the matter to the 1993 AGM where members voted to set up a $7000 'Diet and Disease Committee' to investigate some of the allegations. The February 1994 AVA News advised that veterinarians, "need to be concerned about the relationship between diet and disease". and that, "Periodontal disease is arguably the most common disease condition seen in small animal practice and its effects on the gums and the teeth can significantly affect the health and well-being of affected animals. This is sufficient in itself to give reason for concern. Proof of additional systemic effects is not necessary to justify further action." The December 1995 edition of the Journal of Small Animal Practice carried my article on additional diet induced systemic effects akin to an 'AIDS like' condition'.

We in the Raw Meaty Bone Lobby are proud of our record. As a result of our efforts in print and on TV and radio we have done much to overcome the misleading propaganda of the artificial pet food industry and their veterinary advisors. At the same time we have highlighted the medical and dental professions' promotion of healthy natural food and clean teeth.In turn the medical and dental professions have lent us support with their discovery that periodontal disease is a prime risk factor for heart disease, premature and still births and overall mortality.

It is worth putting on the record some of the laughable activities of some of the AVA Board members. Roger Clarke has published several internet messages extolling the benefits of artificial pet food and was seen in the pages of a pet food company magazine. During her term on the Board Dr Jill Maddison, consultant to Friskies, appeared in a TV programme in which she promoted artificial pet food and denied the existence of a diet induced 'AIDS like'condition. She also appeared in an MBF article along with Board member Jonica Newby in which it was alleged that pet ownership is worth huge savings to the Australian health bill. This claim was central to the Newby book but as two objective research projects have since shown the savings are not 1.5 billion but in fact zero. Media Watch presenter Mr Stuart Littlemore QC was most unhappy with the Newby incognito performance on the ABC. He said that she should not have been on the ABC at all. Subsequently legal commentator Richard Ackland twice gave Dr Newby star billing on his Media Watch. Ian Denney the director of the Western Plains Zoo presides over the feeding of liquid pet food to cheetahs, an endangered species, as part of a sponsorship arrangement with a pet food company. Garth McGilvray AVA spokesman on the Channel 9 Money Programme said, "The AVA would consider the best diet consists of 80% dry food and 20% perhaps of raw bones."

Some AVA Board members do not appear to be actively engaged in the promotion of artificial pet food but seem to give support to the harassment of the Raw Meaty Bone Lobbyists. The 1998 changes to the Memorandum and Articles of Association seem to be a none too clever attempt at expelling dissident members. Members would be well to consider that fabulously wealthy trans-national companies have their sympathisers on the AVA board. Although the Board appears to act as a puppet of those companies it is necessary to bear in mind that it is AVA members who pay for all actions of the Board and the subsequent reactions (whether through the courts or otherwise) by aggrieved persons.

Putting the last eight years in review it appears that the AVA has been more a part of the problem than its solution. How then to unite the profession and reverse the process? Fortunately I believe that the answer is simple and involves letting the animals decide what's best. Please, I urge you, try feeding your own domestic carnivores on a 'Raw Meaty Bone' based diet, monitoring objective or subjective signs as you see fit. When you have made your own assessment of the health and vitality of your pets, with the clear implications for pets and the profession in general, then please cast your vote.

When elected to the AVA Board I shall straight away initiate steps to discontinue the arrangements with the pet food company sponsors. In 1992 legal advice was published indicating that vets and by extension the AVA could be held legally responsible for promoting dietary substances which give rise to periodontal and other diseases. At an early stage I would take steps to minimise that risk to the Association. As a basis for further action I would use the motion put before the 1994 Canberra AGM which states:

a.Initiating and/or encouraging prospective studies.

b.Providing support programmes for the membership during the transition period from widespread processed food feeding to the adoption of more natural feeding practices.

c.Liaison with various bodies in order to minimise the harm done by processed food feeding.

d.Encouraging and overseeing the growth of an Australian natural food industry which minimises harmful effects on animal health,the national economy and environment.

e.Communication to the broader community of these major AVA animal welfare initiatives.

In other areas the AVA will need to continue much as usual. In the first year as President Elect I would aim to familiarise myself with the workings of the organisation whilst bringing a welcome outsiders perspective. In the Presidential year I would expect to put in a full time effort. I look forward to cooperating with the employed staff, the SIGS and the branches.