Think all bovine vets are old-timer types with a blind eye for any abuses perpetrated by the industry providing their paychecks? Then think again. Though agricultural animal vets are known for their practical ways and no-nonsense approach to dealing with the herds in their care, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a heart.

I won’t deny it: The leaders of the veterinary groups serving these industries have always struck me as somewhat less progressive on the animal welfare front as they should be. And the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) has largely mirrored their agricultural membership’s defensive posture whenever their industry’s practices have been criticized.

Hallmark/Westland’s downer cows, poor pain relief protocols (for castration and dehorning, for example), veal calf practices, forced molting for chickens, cramped spaces for egg layers, foie gras production and sow confinement are the just the tip of the iceberg.

These are the issues and events that have galvanized YOU, the public, to concern yourselves with animal welfare issues concerning the foods you eat—or refuse to eat, as the case may be.

Finally, it seems the AVMA and the AABP (American Association of Bovine Practitioners) have noticed. The tides are changing…in your favor, if you’re one of the millions of eaters worried about how the animals fueling your food supply are treated.

Want some proof? Here’s a gratifying excerpt from AVMA Executive VP Ron DeHaven’s editorial on the AABP’s website:

“The situation that recently unfolded at the Hallmark/Westland slaughter plant in Chino, Calif., underscores the fact that concern for the welfare of animals … especially those used as a food source … is prominent in the minds of the American public, and that the economic consequences of ignoring the welfare of animals can be devastating…

…Even as we work to educate the urban and suburban public on animal production practices, we must recognize and educate producers that what was an acceptable practice 30 years ago may not be acceptable today.”

Perhaps you think these statements soft as cow manure. But to my ears, it’s a beautiful sound. It’s has the ring of revolution and the timbre of tolerance. Maybe you have to know the industry and its players to comprehend the significance of these words I read today on an obscure website dedicated to cow vets.

Though Dr. DeHaven’s call is for “evolution, not revolution,” the writing’s on the wall: It’s time for veterinarians to listen to what the culture we live in calls us to do—regardless of the expense to our bottom lines and our clients’ profit margins.

Sure, it means we’ll be paying more for our animal products, but gas and grain prices have already shown us we have to sacrifice for our way of life…what’s an extra tax for knowing our animals aren’t subject to the base and obscure practices of an industry we’re increasingly loath to trust?

If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a couple of months you’ll know I’m no vegetarian. And yet I’ve been raising Dolittler Cain on animal welfare issues for years now. It’s high time I read something, somewhere that demonstrates that our veterinary profession is finally moving forward in directions of which I can be proud.