The American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) has announced a “strategic partnership” with Science Diet Pet Foods. Is it ethical for a Veterinary organization to partner with a pet food?
It’s well known that the major players in pet food, Science Diet, Iams/Eukanuba, and Purina are all large contributors to veterinary schools. Now, Science Diet and become an Industry Partner with a continuing education organization for Veterinary Surgeons. The ACVS website states that Industry Partners are provided with “exclusive opportunities”. http://www.acvs.org/Partners/IndustryPartners/
A quick search of all the U.S. Veterinary School websites shows that about 50% are provided with donations from Hill’s Science Diet; this was only with a very quick search, more than likely far more vet schools receive donations from Science Diet. Several, including Colorado State University, Michigan State University and the University of Minnesota have “Feeding Programs” sponsored by Science Diet. The Colorado State University Science Diet Feeding program involves selling donated Science Diet Pet Food as a fund raiser for student and University Programs. http://www.cvmbs.colostate.edu/SCAVMA/resources/Hill%27s%20files/HillsFeedProg.pdf
Ohio State University Veterinary School website provides first year students with a survival guide. Under the topic of money making opportunities for Veterinary Students the Survival Guide suggests for students to become “Reps for one of the veterinary corporations. Iams, Science Diet, Waltham, IVD, and Purina are the biggest companies to apply to. As a student rep, you are responsible for knowing the product, setting up lectures and food pick-ups.” http://vet.osu.edu/assets/pdf/education/dvmProgram/incomingClass/SurvivalGuideFirstYear.pdf
The Banking and Auto industries are not the only areas strapped for cash; many colleges and universities are struggling to make ends meet. I would assume that donations and support are welcome from anyone and everyone. However, considering that a huge majority of veterinarian offices in the U.S. sell only Science Diet or Iams/Eukanuba pet foods, do the donations from these pet food giants unethically influence our veterinarian’s choice of pet foods? Furthermore, does the donation influence trickle down to a majority of pet owners seeking trusted advice from their vet? Which would in turn, promote more sales of these pet food brands and more profits for the pet food giants.
It’s quite the vicious circle. Universities need support; support often comes with strings. Sadly, the result is pet owners get tangled up in those ‘strings’.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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