Sending Office: Honorable Alcee L. Hastings
Cosponsors: (12) – Representatives: Cicilline, David N.; Grijalva, Raul M.; Kaptur, Marcy; Norton, Eleanor Holmes; Polis, Jared; Raskin, Jamie; Schrader, Kurt; Serrano, Jose E.; Shea-Porter, Carol; Thompson, Bennie G.; Velazquez,
Nydia; Wasseman-Schultz, Debbie.
I respectfully ask for your support of the H.R.159, the Wildlife Veterinarians Employment and Training (VET) Act.
This bill provides incentives for students to pursue wildlife and zoological medicine, which is currently understaffed in the U.S.
Wildlife and zoo veterinarians are the primary source of essential health care for, and management of, wild animals in their natural habitat and in captivity. Not only do they preserve natural resources and animal lives, but they help protect human health
by preventing, detecting, and responding to exotic and dangerous diseases.
With the intensification of globalization and climate change, along with a growing interface between humans, livestock, and wildlife, the threat posed by emerging infectious diseases to humans and wildlife keeps increasing. Controlling pandemic and large-scale
outbreaks of disease has become more problematic.
In spite of these threats to public health, the United States faces a shortage of positions for wildlife and zoo veterinarians. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), less than one percent of AVMA members identify themselves as
wildlife or zoological veterinarians.
On average, veterinarian graduates owe $130,000 in student loans. Salaries for wildlife and zoological professionals are relatively low compared to companion animal medicine. Lower salaries, combined with high educational debt and the small number of positions
available discourage students from becoming wildlife or zoo veterinarians. The number of practical trainings and formal education programs specializing in wildlife and zoological veterinary medicine are also insufficient.
The Wildlife VET Act will directly address the above issues, which prevent and dissuade veterinarians from practicing wildlife and zoological medicine.
My bill will:
- Create new positions for wildlife and zoo veterinarians;
- Limit the amount of educational debt for veterinary medicine students, while providing incentives to study and practice wildlife and zoo veterinary medicine through a scholarship program and a loan repayment program;
- Help schools of veterinary medicine develop pilot curricula specializing in wildlife and zoo veterinary medicine;
- Expand the number of practical training programs in wildlife and zoo medicine for veterinary students; and
- Develop affordable and well qualified opportunities for individuals to become wildlife and zoo veterinarians, spur job growth and promote a robust public health policy across the nation.
We ask that you join us to preserving our wildlife animals by cosponsoring H.R.159. If you have any questions or would like to cosponsor, please contact Tony L. Matthews in my office at x5-1313 or
Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress
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