The first time I met Dr. Jack Walther, he was vice president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). All these years later, I recall him telling me, “I follow your work, and thank you for sending so many pets to the veterinarian; you’re a pet’s best friend.”
Walther became president of the AVMA in 2003.
When Consumer Reports wrote what I thought was a horribly misleading story about veterinary medicine, I interviewed the author of that piece with Walther and then-AVMA CEO Dr. Ron DeHaven simultaneously on the radio.
The story suggested that pet owners call around to compare surgery prices. including comparing the cost of anesthesia.
On the air, I said, “That suggestion is ridiculous. There’s no way pet owners can discern differences between various anesthetic protocols, or what is needed for their individual pet. Or, for many surgeries, to understand in advance how long the surgery will take. Not to mention the qualifications of who is administering the anesthetic. Or the cocktail of anesthesia itself, whether it is appropriate or it is a baseball bat, which I admit is cheaper. So is cheaper always better?”
The reporter had no answer to that.
For years, Walther remembered that line about a baseball bat, which he thought was funny as well as appropriate to make the point.
In November, Dr. Walther, a great friend to large- and small-animal medicine passed away.
Walther became a board member of the Western Veterinary Conference (WVC), which was just one of the many organizations that honored him for his career achievements.
Devoting more than 50 years of service to WVC , he served as a WVC committee chair since 2002, was on the WVC Board of Directors for more than 15 years, and was president of the 2005 WVC Annual Conference. In 2008, Dr. Walther was awarded the WVC Distinguished Service Award for his many noteworthy contributions, and in 2013, WVC’s leadership award was renamed the “Dr. Jack Walther Leadership Award” due to his introduction of WVC’s veterinary student award program in 2002. Dr. Walther made significant contributions and created positive change for the entire veterinary profession.
After earning his undergraduate and DVM degrees at the University of California, Davis, Dr. Walther served two years with the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps during the Vietnam era and then practiced equine- and small-animal medicine in the Reno, Nevada, area for more than 40 years.
Dr. Walther supported the importance of continuing education, often through WVC), and was downright dogmatic in his support of students. He advanced the future of veterinary medicine and will be missed.