Schaumburg, Ill. – Dr. Gail Golab, head of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Animal Welfare Division, traveled across the globe to achieve a top career goal-to become America’s first veterinarian credentialed in animal welfare.
Dr. Golab earned her membership level credential in the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists’ (ACVSc) Animal Welfare Chapter on July 3, 2008. Australia is the only country that offers an animal welfare certification for veterinarians.
“We’ve long recognized and valued Dr. Golab’s expertise and national recognition in animal welfare,” says Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief executive officer of the AVMA. “This new certification from Australia adds international recognition and reflects positively on her as well as the overall level of expertise of the AVMA staff. We are very fortunate to have Gail, as well as other very talented and dedicated staff members at the AVMA.”
Dr. Golab is the only American member of the ACVSc, as well as being the only American veterinarian within its Animal Welfare Chapter. Earning membership in the ACVSc Animal Welfare Chapter involved more than two years of study and successful completion of written and oral exams. The written exam was conducted in the United States and the oral exam in Queensland, Australia.
“I’d considered attempting to obtain this credential for some time and finally decided it was time to pursue it. Certainly there was hard work involved, but I’ve benefitted immensely from the experience,” says Dr. Golab.
“My work at the AVMA was a real asset to my studies, because as head of the Animal Welfare Division I’m constantly exposed to and researching animal care practices affecting a variety of species across a range of uses,” Dr. Golab adds. “I look forward to using the additional knowledge I have gained through this formal credentialing process to assist the AVMA in continuing to formulate rational and effective approaches to these complex issues.”
Dr. Golab said her studies have not only broadened her understanding of the scientific and ethical theory associated with animal welfare decisions, but have also created strong links with colleagues in the international veterinary and animal welfare communities. In her studies, she was mentored by one of Australia’s top veterinarians, and studied with veterinarians from Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
“The importance of animal welfare is becoming increasingly recognized around the world and the recent award of ACVSc membership to Dr. Gail Golab of the AVMA, as the first U.S. member, is fitting recognition of Dr. Golab’s international standing. It is also most pleasing to see the leadership position being taken by the AVMA on this complex international public policy issue,” says Dr. David Bayvel, director of animal welfare for MAF Biosecurity NZ and chair of the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) Animal Welfare Working Group. “The Australian College of Veterinary Scientists’ Animal Welfare Chapter provides an opportunity to gain international peer recognition, by examination, for particular experience and expertise on the field of animal welfare.”
Dr. Golab has a long history of commitment to ensuring the welfare of animals. As an undergraduate student engaged in biomedical research she served on a predecessor to today’s institutional animal care and use committees that protect the welfare of laboratory animals. As a graduate student at Texas A&M University, she co-founded a student chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as a means of providing education directed at reducing end-of-semester relinquishments of students’ pets. After graduation from University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991, she provided medical and surgical services, and assisted with policy development, for local humane societies. Currently she serves on several scientific advisory committees developing guidelines and standards for the care of animals used for agricultural purposes.
“It was great to have someone like Gail with a lot of ‘field experience’ in animal welfare sitting for the exams,” explains Dr. Mark Lawrie, president of the Australian Veterinary Association and Dr. Golab’s mentor. “At the time of the exams, Dr. Golab said she felt that what she had learnt through the membership was adding value to her work.
“It helps to gain understanding of the animal welfare issues that we have today and how they play out as they do,” he says.