Although international meetings of sheep veterinarians have taken place every 4 years since 1985, no formal structure exists to arrange for these meetings, or to address the common interests of veterinarians all over the world who have a special interest in sheep. While such international organisations do exist for veterinary interests like cattle, pigs, pets, horses and even specialities like epidemiology, reproduction, public health and veterinary history, nothing has been formed to cater for those interested in sheep (or goats). However, there is a functional International Goat Association run mainly by Animal Scientists who allow and encourage veterinary participation, and it has therefore been considered advisable that the focus of this proposal will be on sheep. This does not necessarily preclude contributions on goats, as has happened at meetings in the past. The continuing lack of such an international organisation could be seen as reflecting negatively on the collective resolve and vision of veterinarians who focus their professional lives on sheep.
The idea of establishing a world sheep veterinary association was first mooted in Australia in 1997. A proposal for the formation of such a special interest structure was made in South Africa at the quadrennial congress in 2001, but this was not followed by any in real progress. The lack of a formal organising structure, rules and voting procedures in Greece in 2005 caused difficulties at the informal meeting held there, which again highlighted the necessity of making progress towards establishing an international body which would regulate the congress voting process as well as attend to the other interests of sheep veterinarians worldwide. Towards the end of the 2005 congress in Greece, a group of veterinarians from countries which had held past congresses met informally to discuss how best to take the process of the formation of an international sheep veterinary organisation forward. It was proposed that a small founding group comprising officially designated members from countries that had already held congresses (UK, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Greece) should take the initiative. Other countries like Norway (by virtue of their holding the next congress in 2009) and USA (Special Small Ruminant group) could also be involved. The founding group has drafted and accepted a constitution by a process of negotiation and consensus and this is to form the basis for the International Association. The founding Constitution is to be distributed as widely as possible for worldwide participation in an international organisation for veterinarians with a special interest in sheep.
It is essential that interim arrangements for the functioning of the organisation are made prior to the 2009 congress so that the necessary procedures for future congresses and other functions of the organisation can start immediately. These arrangements are laid out in the Addendum.