2009 Animal Welfare Symposium

Animal Welfare in Veterinary Medical Education and Research

November 8-11, 2009
The Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center at
Michigan State University
 On November 8-11, 2009 the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) jointly conducted an Animal Welfare Symposium titled "Swimming with the Tide: Animal Welfare in Veterinary Medical Education and Research" at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, USA. An international line-up of expert speakers presented information on the role of the veterinary profession in animal welfare education, research and advocacy to a full auditorium. An animal's health, its conscious experiences, and its ability to engage in species-typical behaviors were all recognized as being important to an animal's welfare and, consequently, that the study of animal well-being requires the collaboration of researchers and practitioners from many scientific and non-scientific disciplines.

There was wide agreement that veterinarians are key to protecting animal welfare because of the important role they play as intermediaries between animals, their owners, and the public. To assume their rightful place as leaders, however, speakers and panelists emphasized that veterinarians must accept the study of animal welfare as a legitimate discipline and actively participate in the wider social discussion about how animals are appropriately used and cared for. While some colleges/schools provide positive models for preparing students for this role, overall there is a noticeable gap between aspiration and achievement, and challenges exist in finding room in already crowded curricula to deliver more information. Given the considerable knowledge and time burdens occupying students and working veterinarians, organizations that represent the profession such as the AVMA, the AAVMC, and state and allied veterinary associations, also need to take an active role in preparing veterinarians to respond to their obligations. During the event, veterinary students, as individuals and as representatives of the Student AVMA, clearly expressed their desire to develop their animal welfare expertise and embrace this aspect of the veterinarian's oath in their careers.

Papers from the AVMA-AAVMC Symposium have been published in the spring 2010 issue of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, which has been made open-access. Detailed information about the program, biographical information for speakers, and copies of the speakers' PowerPoints are available by accessing the agenda for the meeting. Abstracts for posters presented during the meeting are also available. In addition, recorded proceedings of the event will be provided in an audiovisual format. More details on securing audiovisual proceedings will be available shortly.

Otto von Bismark is credited with remarking: "Man cannot create the current of events. He can only float with them and steer." The AVMA-AAVMC Symposium reflects recognition that concern for animal welfare is a strong and prevailing current, and the veterinary profession wants, and needs, to take its place at the helm.

Click on the arrow () to view photos from the 2009 AVMA/AAVMC Joint International Educational Symposium on Animal Welfare


With Sincere Appreciation

To the members of the AVMA-AAVMC Joint Committee, AVMA Animal Welfare Committee and the AAVMC Animal Care Committee for helping to develop the concept for this Symposium.

To our sponsors, without whose generosity this event would simply not be possible. These include our:




Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OER, NIH)

In-kind Contributors

Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine

The views expressed in written conference materials or publications, and by speakers and moderators, do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AVMA, the AAVMC or the sponsors, nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the AVMA, the AAVMC or the sponsors.