Hastings Reintroduces Bill to Increase Job Opportunities for Wildlife Veterinarians

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Washington, D.C., April 4, 2019 | comments
Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings reintroduced the Wildlife Veterinarians Employment and Training Act of 2019 (Wildlife VET Act), legislation to increase the quality of job opportunities for individuals seeking a career in wildlife and zoological veterinary research or medicine, spur job growth, incentivize students to enter the field, and promote robust public health policy. Joining Hastings as original cosponsors include: Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.-At Large), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Darren Soto (D-FL), and Filemon Vela (D-TX). (Please find attached a copy of the legislation):
“I am pleased to reintroduce the Wildlife VET Act, which responds to pressing public health needs, while also addressing the current shortage of veterinarians by alleviating looming student debt and other barriers. Salaries for wildlife and zoological professionals are relatively low compared to those who practice companion animal medicine, ranking second to the bottom for salaries paid to veterinarians as a whole. These students graduate with a massive $143,000 in student loan debt, on average. Given the lower salaries, looming student debt, combined with the limited number of funded positions available, this bill prevents students from being too discouraged to enter this essential profession. 
“We have reached a point in our history when we cannot ignore the importance of protecting America’s wildlife. With an increasing number of endangered species, the introduction of invasive non-native species, and more infectious disease threats to public health, wildlife and zoological veterinarians must be placed at the core of our efforts and be given the resources and recognition necessary to protect both animal and human lives.”
The Wildlife VET Act increases the quality and number of job opportunities for individuals seeking a career in wildlife and zoological veterinary research or medicine, reduces barriers and provides incentives to students to enter the field, and promotes robust public health policy. In so doing, the bill creates new positions in the field; limits the amount of educational debt students can take on; provides scholarship and loan repayment programs; and helps schools develop specialized curricula and training programs with a focus on wildlife and zoological veterinary medicine.
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.


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