July 13, 2012

The Beginning: What a Week!

By Rachel Dory

I can’t believe it’s already the end of my first week at the GRD! I’ve been so busy getting to know the office and scheduling meetings that the time really has flown by.

The *hot* sun streaming down on the Washington Monument


On Wednesday I attended the House’s Farm Bill mark-up. This event was so popular that the overflow room overflowed, which I suppose makes sense because this piece of legislation really does affect all types of groups. Luckily one of the GRD Assistant Directors, Gina Luke told me to arrive early and I was able to get a seat in the overflow room to listen to the proceedings. This is the first event of this sort that I’ve ever attended, and I found it very interesting to listen to the volley of opinions and arguments between the Representatives. Although it was apparent that everyone knew what each other was going to say in advance, it was interesting to see the reactions to each congressman’s opinion. Equally enjoyable was the response of the crowd in the overflow room. The atmosphere was exhilarating and it made what could have been a very dry event entertaining. Though I only stayed for the first half of the committee’s nearly 15 hour, 100-amendment meeting, several of the amendments the AVMA was interested in passed, including one that prohibits spectators in animal fighting events. This one was of interest to me because it was one of the issues I spoke with my legislators about in February, when I was here for the student fly-in.

The somewhat less attended Senate hearing

Thursday I had the opportunity to sit in on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on “Medication and Performance Enhancing Drugs in Horse Racing.” This hearing discussed the prevalence and use of performance enhancing drugs in horse racing and how the industry could be better regulated. The panelists represented different aspects of the horse racing industry, and each gave their opinion on the state of the industry and how to address its problems. Most interesting to me was the testimony of Dr. Sheila Lyons, Founder and Director of The American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation and of Homecoming Farm, Inc. While the other panelists focused primarily on needing to create a more uniform set of rules governing medication limits and increasing policing and penalties to the trainers, her opinion is that the veterinarians involved  need to be held more responsible. She called for the state veterinary boards to become more involved in penalizing veterinarians who prescribe drugs to horses without a valid VCPR. While personally I don’t believe this one change is what would ultimately “fix” the horse racing industry, Dr. Lyons made one point that really resonated with me. I spoke with her after the hearing and she pointed out the difference between racetracks, where, according to her, drug use is rampantly unmonitored, and the small animal private practice, where not noting even one medication in the chart of a patient could be grounds for a lawsuit. It was an interesting perspective and I am glad I had the opportunity to attend.