The column by State Sen. Chris Hall (Aug. 8) on pet vaccination deserves credit for its attempt to increase public awareness of the veterinary emphasis on total wellness through annual physical exams.

However, I am concerned with implications made that veterinarians do not put our patient’s interest first.

Nothing could be further from the truth. While it is true veterinarians across Maine and the nation are wrestling with recent vaccine guidelines recommended in 2003 by the American Animal Hospital Association, any reticence to fully adopt the recommendations is based on the fear of leaving our patients underprotected. A thoughtful and cautious approach is certainly called for when shifting from proven, labeled protocols to recently recommended, off-label guidelines. Veterinarians know what disease in unprotected animals looks like and we are loath to see it.

Veterinarians take our clients’ trust and patients’ health very seriously. Open discussion with our clients about the multitude of new diagnostic, treatment and prevention options available today is what private practice veterinarians do every day. Educating and helping our clients keep their animals at their healthiest is at the core of a strong veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

Our profession welcomes public discussion of this issue. However, we are not sure having a complex medical issue such as this placed before an overburdened Maine Legislature by a state senator in a difficult re-election campaign is the most constructive way to proceed. We are reluctant to impugn Sen. Hall’s motives, but he has surely and inaccurately maligned ours.

Bill Bryant, D.V.M., president, Maine Veterinary Medical Association,

Mount Vernon

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