Sending Office: Honorable Alcee L. Hastings
Cosponsor the Wildlife Veterinarians Employment and Training Act of 2019 (H.R. 2099)
Cosponsors: Barragán, Cicilline, Cohen, Grijalva, Kaptur, Lynch, Norton, Raskin, Schrader, Serrano, Sires, Soto, Vela, Debbie Wasserman Schultz
I respectfully ask for your support of the Wildlife Veterinarians Employment and Training Act (Wildlife VET Act).
This bill would provide incentives for students to pursue wildlife and zoological medicine and increases the number of positions available at wildlife and zoological facilities.
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 increasingly more complex and pressing.
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 $143,000 in student loans. Relatedly, salaries for wildlife and zoological professionals are relatively low compared to those who practice companion animal medicine, ranking second to the bottom for salaries paid to
veterinarians as a whole. 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 internships, practical training programs and formal education
programs specializing in wildlife and zoological veterinary medicine are also insufficient.
The Wildlife VET Act will directly address the aforementioned 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 curricula and training programs specializing in wildlife and zoo veterinary medicine.
- Develop affordable and well qualified opportunities for individuals to become wildlife and zoo veterinarians, spur job growth, and promote public health policy across the nation.
Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress
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