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2001 VAG Advisor Guidelines

Guidelines for Veterinary Advisor Group (VAG)

AZA’s Animal Health Committee (AHC) and the Veterinary Advisory Group (VAG) Guidelines Revised 9/01

Purpose of the Veterinary Advisory Group

The goals of the Veterinary Advisory Group (VAG) are:

1) to act as a support and advisory body for SSP/TAG Veterinary Advisors
2) to act as a source of information for protocols concerning the roles and responsibilities of Veterinary Advisors
3) to serve as an informational resource on veterinary issues that may impact conservation programs.

The VAG Chair is appointed by the Chair of the Animal Health Committee. The VAG Chair functions as a resource to the SSP/TAG Chairs and can help in identifying individuals who may be interested in serving as a specific Veterinary Advisor. Similarly, the VAG Chair can help veterinarians interested in becoming advisors contact a specific SSP/TAG Chair. The ultimate decision is up to the SSP Coordinator/TAG Chair. It is recommended that Veterinary Advisors be members of AZA and AAZV.

How to become a Veterinary Advisor

Each SSP/TAG should designate a Veterinary Advisor. The Veterinary Advisor should serve as a full member of the management group and any reintroduction committees. The Veterinary Advisor should have a letter of commitment from his or her institutional employer supporting the nomination and approving the commitment to the SSP/TAG. If you are currently acting as a Veterinary Advisor and have never submitted a letter of commitment from your institution, it is advised that you do so. This letter officially recognizes your institution’s commitment to your participation.

Guidelines for SSP/TAG Veterinary Advisors

1. The Veterinary Advisor serves as a medical consultant to AZA accredited facilities for clinical cases and preventive health issues pertaining to SSP/TAG species. The Veterinary Advisor should:

  • Identify and review the major medical problems of the species/taxa and recommend diagnostic evaluation (laboratory information), therapeutic protocols, and preventive measures
  • Recommend disease monitoring and surveillance programs as necessary
  • In conjunction with the Management Group and Nutrition Advisors, review unique husbandry and/or nutrition requirements
  • Identify unique anatomic or physiologic features

2. Participate in the development and distribution of medical protocols through the species/taxa husbandry manual, studbook, etc. Protocols should include:
Transportation (preshipment protocols, between institutions and/or for reintroduction)*
Preventive medicine*
Parasite surveillance/treatment recommendations
Immobilization (recommended handling and/or anesthetic techniques)
Necropsy (in conjunction with the Pathology Advisor)*
Neonatal exams
Annual exams
Zoonotic diseases (diagnosis and necessary personal protective equipment)
Identification methods
Cost accounting for reintroduction or disease monitoring programs* 

3. Identify scientific specialists in the areas affecting the health and well being of the species.

4. Assist in coordinating data collection efforts between other AZA Science Advisors, scientific specialists, collection managers, and veterinarians.

5. Provide regular reports (annual preferred) to the SSP Coordinator/TAG Chair and VAG Chair. These reports should be distributed to the appropriate participating institutions by the SSP Coordinator/TAG Chair or by the Veterinary Advisor. The report should include: 
Morbidity report (description of significant illnesses)
Mortality report (in conjunction with the pathology advisor)
Significant diagnostic tests and their availability, accuracy, and cost
Updates on vaccine recommendations
Updates on recommended contraception methods (in consultation with the AZA Reproduction Management Center)
Other significant medical activities

6. Advise the SSP/TAG on animal enrichment, animal welfare issues, euthanasia policies, guidelines for surplus animals, and significant federal legislation as it pertains to captive breeding, movement, and/or reintroduction.

7. Facilitate the development of centralized sera and tissue banks or encourage the banking of samples at participating institutions. These samples should be made available for researchers as needed.

8. Act as a reviewer for proposed research projects and protocols that pertain to the species/taxa. The SSP/TAG must be advised of the value and potential health and welfare issues posed by such proposals. The Veterinary Advisor should compile a list of current research projects, field projects, and requests for samples.

9. Act as a reviewer for the medical portion of any surveys that are being sent out through the SSP/TAG or that are received by the SSP/TAG.

11. Cooperate closely with other Scientific Advisors for the species/taxa such as members of the Nutrition Advisory Group and Reproduction Management Center. 

12. Create a list of references and/or relevant sources of information (including web sites). 

13. Attend SSP/TAG meetings. If annual attendance is not possible, having 2 veterinary advisors may ensure representation at these meetings.


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