American Humane hosted a policy discussion on what it means to live in an evolving pandemic reality and COVID-19 lessons learned from both human and animal populations. The discussion was followed by a glittering salon dinner where the conversation continued.
American Humane Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Tom Edling led an informative discussion between Dr. David Levy, a leading physician-executive who had led PwC’s global health care practice, and Dr. Michael McFarland, EVP and Chief Medical Officer of Zoetis, the world’s leading animal health company, and a member of American Humane’s board of directors.
“We have been passing diseases between humans and animals since the beginning of time. What we really need to be aware of is how disease transmission occurs, how lethal it is, and what we can do about it,” Dr. Levy observed. “Pandemics will happen, and when they do, we should tune out the noise and follow the science.”
Using the illustration of the benefit of effective vaccines to treat rabies, which Dr. McFarland shared, “is the oldest zoonotic disease,” he encouraged the audience not to fear vaccines, adding that just like in human populations, animal species benefit most during pandemics from effective vaccines. Dr. McFarland concluded that, “there is a lot to be learned for the human disease experience from veterinary medicine,” and that “veterinarians should be brought into the public health discussion when considering pandemic responses.”
Dr. Edling closed the discussion by noting that, “We need to protect our animals. Zoonotic diseases are naturally occurring. This is not the fault of animals. They are our family, and we must not abandon them. We must not break our sacred bonds with animals. At American Humane we were the leaders protecting the animal bond during the uncertainty of Covid. Sadly, disease epidemics will continue to happen, but American Humane will persist to ensure animals are protected.”