The Washington State Veterinarians Association and the Veterinary Behaviorist Association are launching a joint fundraising campaign to help veterinarians with the difficult task of educating the public about the profession.
The groups announced their goal to raise $250,000 by the end of the year to help cover costs for veterinary behaviorists and veterinary assistants to educate the public.
The goal is to raise enough money for at least four full-time positions, which could cover a variety of training needs.
The veterinary behaviorist and veterinary assistant school programs will be the only two programs to have separate fundraising efforts, said Chris Rolfe, a veterinarian behavioralist at UW-Whitewater.
The other two are at UW Medicine.
Both are accredited and have an enrollment of at least 50 students.
Both the behavioralist and assistant school have a minimum of three years of veterinary training, Rolfes said.
They are accredited by the Council for Continuing Veterinary Education, the accrediting body for veterinary schools.
Both programs are accredited through the Council on Continuing Veterinary Studies, a nonprofit organization that promotes higher education in veterinary sciences.
Both have been in the spotlight in recent years, with the Washington State Veterinary Behaviorists Association and Washington State VETs Association filing complaints about the schools and their behaviorist training standards.
The programs have faced criticism and backlash since the beginning, said Paul Fruin, president of the Washington Vets Association.
In January, the association filed a complaint with the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.
The complaint alleged the schools had a “pattern of conduct” of misrepresenting their credentials and engaging in discriminatory conduct.
Fruin said he’s not surprised that the schools are having to face these accusations.
“This is a common theme for many veterinarians, particularly those who work with animals and treat animals,” Fruine said.
“The behaviorist is seen as a second-class citizen.”
Rolfe said he thinks the controversy stems from the schools lack of transparency.
“There is a perception that there’s no transparency,” Rolfed said.
In addition to the complaint, the VETS Association said the schools were not meeting minimum standards for veterinary training and had a history of discriminatory behavior.
They also did not have the minimum amount of training required to be accredited, which was required to meet minimum requirements for veterinary school certification.
“The fact that they were not accredified as a Veterinary Behavior School at all, it was something that they never had to do,” Ralfe said.
Rolfes told The Washington Post that he doesn’t think the schools have changed much since they first filed complaints.
“We’ve seen a lot of changes in their standards over the years, but it’s not really changed much,” he said.
The schools were accredited in May, but they were never accredited in any way, he said, and there’s a lot more work to be done to be accredicated in the future.
The goal is not to make the schools look bad, but to make sure that we can have a very rigorous program and have the ability to educate people and train them, said Rolf.
Both organizations are working to raise money to pay for additional training, including an online training course and more classes, Ralf said.
He said he hopes to raise at least $1 million.
The Washington VETS Association has raised more than $1.7 million since it began its campaign, and the other organizations are trying to raise more money.
The groups also are trying fundraise to help fund additional training and to cover the costs of maintaining and operating the schools.