The British Veterinary Camelid Society is an informal group of vets and researchers with a particular interest in camelids - primarily alpacas and llamas, but also guanacos and vicunae
Membership of the BVCS is open to all vets, vet students and researchers with an interest in camelids: there is a very modest annual fee to cover administrative costs
The BVCS is run on a voluntary basis: currently the President is Claire Whitehead (left) and the Secretary is Janet Nuttall (right).
The BVCS was established in 1994 in response to the growing interest in keeping new world camelids in the UK. At that initial meeting, and when reviewed more recently, it was generally agreed that it was impractical to establish a formal society with a fixed constitution and affiliation to the British Veterinary Association
Instead, the aim was to provide a central source of information and advice to ensure the highest standards of clinical care for all camelids in the UK. The BVCS is always happy to give advice but can liaise only with fellow professionals
In addition to the website, there is a lively online discussion group for the posing of queries and the sharing of experiences. The society also holds annual conferences and the proceedings of each year's conference are published, together forming an important body of knowledge.
The BVCS is always happy to give advice but as a matter of policy can liaise only with fellow professionals. Owners can ask their vet to make contact or, better still, encourage them to apply for membership of the BVCS.
The BVCS works closely with camelid owners, particularly through the British Llama Society and the British Alpaca Society, both promoting the responsible ownership, registration, breeding and farming of camelids in the UK.
In addition, the President and one other member of the BVCS are on the board of trustees of British Camelids Ltd which is a charity dedicated to the welfare of camelids, representation and liaison with and DEFRA on behalf of all camelids and research and development relating to camelid health, welfare and good husbandry practice. In addition they are concerned with the promotion of, and education about, camelids to the general public in the UK and on their web site publish papers relating to research and development undertaken on behalf of the charity
As part of these aims, each year British Camelids Ltd provides sponsorship for two members of BVCS to attend the annual International Camelid Health Conference held in the USA. The successful applicants give talks or write articles as stipulated by BCL and BVCS so that the knowledge from the conference can be disseminated
BCL also promotes membership of BVCS by periodically offering sponsored membership to vets who may find themselves asked to work with camelids or by encouraging camelid owners to pay the first year’s membership fees.