2014 Animal Welfare Symposium Proceedings

The AVMA is pleased to provide audiovisual proceedings from its November 2014 symposium that comprehensively examined existing best practices for euthanasia, humane slaughter, and depopulation across animal species, while exploring research and innovation in the name of continuous improvement.

Below, presented in their entirty, are 65 informative lectures from the symposium.

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Non-Members: Videos are available for purchase.


Aquatic animals

Companion animals


Exotic animals

Food animals


Laboratory animals

Wild animals

Zoo animals

General lectures

Title Speaker
Ethical aspects of killing humanely
Duration: 28:49
This presentation will consider how evolving societal trends may influence future perspectives on the killing of animals humanely. How should veterinarians and AVMA respond to those changes? What ethical framework may be employed to reduce or avoid humane killing and what consequences may ensue, intended or otherwise?
Steven Niemi
Evaluating methods: Animal consciousness, pain, perception, stress and distress
Duration: 57:12
Death is not a single event, rather it a process by which an organism moves from a state of normal physiological function to a state in which it no longer functions and its body begins to decay. At some point during the process of death, the animal’s cognitive functions become altered such that it becomes unaware of its surroundings. This is an important part of the process, because the animal can only undergo experiences prior to that point. This presentation will discuss the process of death and the techniques that can be used to evaluate the process in terms of the animal’s perception.
Craig Johnson
Evaluating methods: What can different behavioral tests tell us about the experience of animals during euthanasia procedures
Duration: 44:34
This talk will describe a range of different methods used to assess aversion responses to agents used in euthanasia procedures, and describe the shortcoming of the different approaches and the strength of inferences that can be drawn from the results of these different tests.
Daniel Weary
Legal considerations of pharmaceuticals for euthanasia
Duration: 47:27
An overview of FDA law, regulation and policy regarding drugs that may be utilized for euthanasia in animals.  A contrast of the use of euthanasia drugs in nonfood producing animals versus food producing animals.
Neal Bataller
Methods overview: Non-inhalants
Duration: 45:02
This session will cover the non-inhalant euthanasia methods deliberated upon in the development of the 2013 edition of the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. Consideration of agents, routes of administration, pharmacologic/physiologic species differences, and proper handling/disposal of remains will be discussed.
Sharon Gwaltney-Brant
Methods overview: Inhalants
Duration: 55:07
This presentation will provide an overview of common considerations and principles governing administration of inhaled agents for euthanasia and humane killing of animals. Inhaled anesthetics, carbon monoxide, the inert gases nitrogen and argon, and carbon dioxide will be discussed.
Robert Meyer
Methods overview: Physical
Duration: 49:54
The presentation will briefly review methods such as gun shot, captive bolt, electrical blunt force trauma, and cervical dislocation.  The advantages and disadvantages of each method will be discussed.
Temple Grandin
Opportunities for government-provided education regarding humane practices for the euthanasia, slaughter and depopulation of animals
Duration: 7:52
I will review the regulations concerning euthanasia used by APHIS Animal Care for species covered under the Animal Welfare Act along with relevant policies and guidance provided to regulated entities and used by APHIS during inspections.  APHIS personnel are often called upon to educate facility personnel concerning euthanasia practices as a part of the inspection process and are also available to provide this information at veterinary and industry meetings.
Nora Wineland (USDA-APHIS Animal Care)
US public policy approaches to the euthanasia and depopulation of laboratory animals
Duration: 14:00
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) oversees animal activities funded by the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) agencies by the authority of the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 and the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Policy). The PHS Policy, IV.C.1.g., requires that Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees reviewing PHS-conducted or supported research projects determine that methods of euthanasia used will be consistent with the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals, unless a deviation is justified for scientific reasons in writing by the investigator.
Patricia Brown (Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, NIH)
US public policy approaches to the euthanasia, humane slaughter, and depopulation of farmed animals
Duration: 13:46
An overview of the Foreign Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Plan (FADPReP)/National Animal Health Emergency Management System(NAHEMS) Guidelines for Mass Depopulation and Euthanasia to be utilized in an animal health emergency in the United States.
Kevin Petersburg (USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services)
Panel: International Approaches
Duration: 14:30
A general overview of the Federal Acts and Regulations prescribing the humane handling and slaughter of livestock in federally inspected establishments.
Ashley Etue (USDA-FSIS)
Panel: International approaches
Duration: 15:59
The Canadian Council on Animal Care is responsible for setting and maintaining standards for the ethical use and care of animals in science.  Elements of the various CCAC guidelines concerning killing of  these will be presented; including the CCAC guidelines on the euthanasia of animals used in science (2010).
Gilly Griffin (CCAC)
Panel: International Approaches
Duration: 13:05
A brief description of the issues involved in developing methods for depopulation of farmed animals in Canada, the collaborative approach to this issue that has been developed and some of the considerations involved in the process. 
Harold Kloeze (Canada)
Panel: International Approaches
Duration: 10:35
Member Countries of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), mandated the organisation to take the lead internationally on animal welfare and, as the international reference organisation for animal health, elaborates recommendations and guidelines covering animal welfare practices, reaffirming that animal health is a key component of animal welfare. These standards has a strong scientific basis and help and guide OIE members to conduct such actions. The OIE Terrestrial and Aquatic Animal Health Codes, includes a Chapter on Killing of animals for disease control purposes.
Leopoldo Stuardo (OIE)
Japan’s approaches to the euthanasia, humane slaughter and depopulation of animals
Duration: 15:02
This presentation includes the Japanese history and culture for animal killing as a model of Asian countries; Japanese attitude to animal killing; Realistic problem for animal killing for depopulation of wildlife.
Tsutomu Miki Kurosawa (Japan)
International Approaches Q&A
Duration: 16:40

Companion, Exotic, Zoo and Wild Animals

Title Speaker
Home euthanasia
Duration: 30:25
Home euthanasia services for companion animals has been growing in popularity over the past 10 years. This session will explore the pros and cons of euthanasia in the home environment. We will also discuss future trends.
Kathleen Cooney
Human perspective of compassion fatigue
Duration: 28:04
This presentation will review the human consequences of compassion fatigue in animal related settings and situations. The content will draw from scholarly research on the topic as well as review efforts that animal related organizations have put toward preventing and/or solving the problem. Lastly, practical take home points for curing compassion fatigue will be presented.
Elizabeth Strand
Euthanasia challenges from the animal shelter perspective
Duration: 28:24
Discussion on euthanasia practices in shelters and why active management, proper training and access to controlled drugs are critical for insuring a humane death.
Rebecca Rhoades
Engineering tools for design and analysis of gas flows/mixing in chambers
The presentation will discuss the use of 3D solid modeling (CAD) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for assisting the design and validation of chambers suitable for euthanasia and emergency mass depop.
Larry Stikeleather
Euthanasia of companion birds and small mammals
Duration: 27:42
Euthanasia of avian and exotic animals commonly kept as pets will be covered including comparing all the methods available.
Cheryl Greenacre
Euthanasia of companion animals with behavioral problems – animal welfare, owner, and veterinarian issues
Duration: 14:20
This presentation discusses the dynamic concept of animal welfare and how the dynamics of the individual interaction with its environment over time must be taken into account in an attempt to 'measure' welfare.
Nienke Endenburg
Intrarenal injections in cats
Duration: 11:14
This session will outline results from a study conducted on 131 cats euthanized in the home. Attention will be placed on pre-euthanasia sedation, proper needle placement, and expected time of death.
Kathleen Cooney
Humane community development – examining the effectiveness of individual roaming dog population management schemes
Duration: 12:19
The use of control methods in dog population management interventions depends on several factors including the value assigned to roaming dogs by community members and other locally-specific issues. IFAW’s Humane Community Development (HCD) framework supports community members to identify these factors, and develop multi-strategy management plans based on an understanding of their community’s unique situation with dogs.
Ian Robinson
Animal-related grief considerations from an interfaith perspective
Duration: 17:41
The purpose of this presentation is to educate about the grief traditions from world religions and the applications of these traditional practices to animal related euthanasia and end of life care. Although most applicable for work with companion animals, this presentation will also discuss application for working with service, food, and lab animals as well.
Elizabeth Strand
Overview of zoo and wildlife challenges – non-traditional responses for non-traditional species
Duration: 24:39
Non-domestic species represent a wide variety of taxa with varying anatomy, physiology, behavior, and other characteristics. In addition, how people value these taxa and the contexts that animals’ lives are ended vary considerably. This talk presents an overview of the challenges associated with determining the optimal methods for ending nondomestic animals’ lives.
David Miller
Euthanasia in zoos – perceptions, planning, and public expectations
Duration: 30:15
With advances in zoo veterinary care, geriatric care and euthanasia are becoming more common. The strong connections between keepers and the animals in their care as well as expectations on the part of the general public are all issues to be considered in end of life planning for zoo animals.
Thomas Meehan
The balancing act for terrestrial wildlife, in the field and in the laboratory
Duration: 35:53
This presentation will review the complexities involving euthanasia of terrestrial wildlife, covering issues such as wild population status, differing use demands, and social/political concerns.
Josh Dein
Wildlife damage control – whose ox is being gored?
Duration: 30:50
This presentation will discuss the problems associated with wildlife and the process of dealing with vertebrates that, cause damage, threaten health and human safety, and cause nuisance.
Scott Hygnstrom
Humane endings for cetaceans and fish in field settings
Duration: 32:16
How do we meet or at least approach the definition of euthanasia in an environmentally sound manner in the conduct of field fisheries research and management of terminally stranded cetaceans?
Craig Harms
Considerations when culling large mammals with firearms
Duration: 18:05
I will review numerous factors critical to effective, safe, and humane depopulation efforts using firearms.  The focus is on technical (i.e., equipment and supplies), methodological, and training aspects of advancing professional guidelines to euthanize large ungulates with firearms.
Anthony DeNicola
The alligator industry – advances in animal welfare from egg to slaughter
Duration: 21:46
The presentation will provide a brief overview of the Louisiana Alligator Industry and a more in depth review of recent advances in methodologies and policies related to the slaughter of alligators in commercial farms and ranches.
Javier Nevarez

Laboratory and Aquatic Animals

Title Speaker
Overview of humane endings for fish
Duration: 28:32
This presentation provides a framework for discussion of humane endings for fish, including current recommendations and practices, challenges, and future directions.
Roy Yanong
Fish pain
Duration: 29:19
The perception of pain in fish is controversial, but the preponderance of recent evidence supports that fish are anatomically, biochemically, molecularly, pharmacologically, and behaviorally similar to mammals. Thus, fish most likely have the potential to perceive pain and experience distress. Therefore, it is important to assess activities that may cause pain and discomfort in fish with the goal of minimizing aversive states for the fish.
Stephen Smith
How to (more humanely) kill laboratory fish
Duration: 13:30
This talk will describe recent results from our laboratory comparing chemicals routinely used to kill fish used in research.
Daniel Weary
Humane endings for aquatic invertebrates...really?
Duration: 16:52
Lobster Thermidor, crawfish etouffee, crab cakes, calamari, scampi:  that’s how most people experience dead aquatic invertebrates.  The concept of “pain” in aquatic invertebrates is currently the subject of debate.  The answer to that vexing question impacts how we interpret the concepts of euthanasia and humane slaughter in these ecologically and economically important animals.
Michael Murray
Assisting IACUCs with humane endings for fish
Duration: 27:11
The unique characteristics of fish and the diversity of species used for research and teaching often cause difficulties for IACUCs in making decisions on protocols for these animals. Challenges exist in assessing fish welfare, using anatomical and behavioral responses to evaluate pain and discomfort in fish, and in establishing humane endpoints. Principal investigators and IACUCs need to work together to develop guidelines for fish that minimize distress and promote animal welfare.
Stephen Smith
Correlating physiological and behavioral studies of stressful events in animals
Duration: 31:58
Death is not a single event, rather it a process by which an organism moves from a state of normal physiological function to a state in which it no longer functions and its body begins to decay. At some point during the process of death, the animal’s cognitive functions become altered such that it becomes unaware of its surroundings. This is an important part of the process, because the animal can only undergo experiences prior to that point. This presentation will discuss the process of death and the techniques that can be used to evaluate the process in terms of the animal’s perception.
Craig Johnson
Neonatal species
Duration: 5:21
Euthanasia of neonatal animals presents a number of challenges, especially in altricial species.
Kathleen Pritchett-Corning
A kind way to kill lab rats and mice?
Duration: 33:36
This presentation will address the mechanics and considerations of carbon dioxide (CO2) euthanasia in rats and mice, including the effect of slow versus rapid fill CO2 euthanasia on the well-being of rats and mice and the person performing the euthanasia procedure.
Debra Hickman
Are any gaseous killing methods for rodents humane? Carbon dioxide versus argon versus isoflurane
Duration: 30:50
A summary of the behavioural and physiological evidence concerning the humaneness of Carbon Dioxide, Volatile Anaesthetics and Inert Gases for killing rodents.
Huw Golledge
Cervical dislocation and decapitation
Duration: 22:42
This presentation will review the literature and recommendation of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia on Cervical Dislocation and Decapitation of Mice and Rats. A brief historical review will provide insight as to how the POE positon has been influenced by publications and how it has changed since the inclusion of laboratory animals in the Guidelines on Euthanasia.
Craig Johnson
Samuel Cartner
Laboratory animal depopulation under "mostly manageable" conditions
Duration: 15:17
Dr. Huerkamp will present an approach to full census depopulation at a Big Academe institution and where the institutional infrastructure is generally intact and there is sufficient staff and availability of a combination of agents and methods to accomplish the task.
Michael Huerkamp
Laboratory animal depopulation: Dealing with the unexpected
Duration: 18:25
This scenario driven presentation engaged audience members to provide their solutions for dealing with research animal disposition and euthanasia in a large scale disaster when circumstances were not ideal for accomplishing this goal.
Terri Clark
Use of pharmaceutical grade drugs/chemicals and compounds
Duration: 11:24
A discussion of legal and policy considerations regarding the use of specific drugs and chemicals in the laboratory animal environment.
Neal Bataller
Humane endings – verification of mouse euthanasia by ethanol injection
Duration: 15:03
In the 2013 AVMA guidance on euthanasia, intraperitoneal injection of ethanol was included as "acceptable with conditions". We sought to further evaluate ethanol injection using advanced monitoring equipment, including ECG and high definition video recordings. This talk will describe the findings of ethanol compared to a positive euthanasia solution with respect to behavioral responses, time to loss of consciousness, and influences on respiration and heart rate in laboratory mice.
F. Claire Hankenson
Creating the AVMA Guidelines – making them scientifically and practically robust and dynamic
Duration: 16:58
An outline of the current guidelines for the euthanasia of fertilized avian eggs, inconsistencies between sections, and data relevant to deciding which techniques are humane depending on stage of development. Presented as an example of how developing areas of research will be assessed and incorporated into the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals as a living document.
Steven Leary

Food Animals and Equids

Title Speaker
Research update on physical methods of euthanasia for cattle
Duration: 32:14
This presentation will discuss captive bolt and gunshot as physical methods of euthanasia for cattle by reviewing current literature and research focused on this topic.
John Gilliam
Mass depopulation of dairy cattle using center-channel pneumatic captive bolt with pithing
Duration: 13:01
A USDA supported study to validate a pneumatic captive bolt device with air pithing was reported. The method resulted in immediate unconsciousness of all animals with none regaining consciousness.  Time to death ranged from 3 to 19 minutes. 
Zachary Francisco
Validation of a penetrating captive bolt device with air-channel pithing for euthanasia of cattle in mass depopulation
Duration: 13:10
Effective procedures for the mass depopulation of feedlot cattle are needed in the event of a catastrophic disease or other emergency situation.  This presentation will describe a study designed to validate the use of a penetrating captive bolt device with built-in low pressure air-channel pithing as a single-step method for the humane euthanasia of cattle  in a mass depopulation scenario. 
Jan Shearer
Quantification of sodium pentobarbital residues from equine mortality compost piles
Duration: 31:11
The effects of proper composting on euthanized horse carcass degradation and sodium pentobarbital concentration in compost material along with the relative impact on environmental risk up to 367 days will be reported.
Joshua Payne
Euthanasia of swine, including alternatives to blunt force trauma
Duration: 26:03
A review of current methods for on-farm euthanasia for swine including logistic considerations, alternatives to blunt force trauma, and impact of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus in the farrowing house.
Alex Ramirez
Mass depopulation of swine using gradual displacement CO2
Duration: 30:14
In exigent situations, potential advantages of inhaled gases over individually applied physical methods for on-farm swine depopulation include the ability to rapidly move animals out of buildings via existing walkways, reduced individual animal handling and need for physical restraint, and the ability to simultaneously contain and kill many animals while providing a means for carcass containment and disposal transport. Recent work describing the underlying principles and field application of gradual displacement CO2 for this purpose will be presented.
Robert Meyer
Nitrous oxide for piglet euthanasia
Duration: 26:35
A series of experiments demonstrated that nitrous oxide can humanely kill a piglet as a humane alternative to carbon dioxide for gas euthanasia, based on behavioural, physiological and neurobiological data

His presentation today relates to the search for acceptable methods to euthanize neonatal pigs, and particularly gas alternatives to carbon dioxide with an emphasis on nitrous oxide.
Jean-Loup Rault
Searching for the best practices – practical and humane endings for poultry on the farm
Duration: 16:01
This presentation will highlight the challenges of current on-farm euthanasia methods for individual, large poultry. It will also highlight areas for improvement with emphasis on the welfare outcome for chickens and turkeys, human safety, biosecurity and practical implementation for farm personnel.
Katherine Barger
Helen Wojcinski
Determination of effectiveness of various euthanasia technologies for on-farm use in chickens and turkeys over an appropriate size range
Duration: 16:55
An evaluation of eight commercially available or prototype devices that are designed for use in routine on-farm poultry euthanasia is described. The evaluation focused on device use observations, post-application effects on the animal and on EEG pattern analysis.
Benjamin Schlegel
Mass depopulation of using chamber and whole-house gassing
Duration: 34:31
This presentation will discuss practical and welfare aspects of whole-house and chamber methods of poultry flock depopulation using gasses.
Bruce Webster
Mass emergency depopulation of poultry using water-based foam with or without inert gas
Duration: 27:49
Mass emergency depopulation of poultry may be required for disease or as part of other emergency animal management responses.  Mass emergency depopulation of poultry faces significant concerns given the large numbers of animal typically impacted and for this reason, water based foam was developed as an emergency response technique. 
Eric Benson
Evaluation of low atmospheric pressure stunning in poultry
Duration: 19:04
My presentation will cover the development of the Low Atmospheric Pressure Stun-Kill System for broilers from single bird test parameters thru in plant commercial operation of four chambers supplying two processing lines each at 180 stunned birds per minute.  The basics parameters for Controlled Atmosphere Stun/Kill systems will be presented and their impact on animal welfare aspects of stunning will be discussed.
Jeff Buhr
Responses of neonatal goats (kids) to different concentrations of carbon dioxide gas
Duration: 15:26
In this presentation, a preference-aversion experiment will be described in which carbon dioxide (CO2) gas was explored as a possible inhalant euthanasia method for neonatal goats.
Suzanna Millman
Critical requirements for religious slaughter of food animals
Duration: 30:22
The religious slaughter of animals requires close attention to a number of details: some religiously required and some to meet modern animal welfare requirements.
Joe Regenstein
Temple Grandin
Clarification of current halal slaughter standards
Duration: 19:18
This presentation aims to clarify both the variation that exist in the halal slaughter industry and why that variation is present.
Kristin Pufpaff
Participating in a depopulation operation – what about the people?
Duration: 23:25
Depopulation operations are considered to be a traumatic experience for the personnel involved; however, prior to this research this had not been subject to empirical review. This research reports on the psychological and physical effects experienced as a result of participating in a mass poultry depopulation operation performed using manual euthanasia techniques to mitigate current and future suffering - during, 4-days, 4-months and 1-year afterwards.
Arnja Dale
Equine slaughter facility design and humane handling
Duration: 35:45
This presentation is a overview of some of the special characteristics of horses and how they need to be accommodates when designing facilities  for humane horse slaughter. The presentation focusses on lessons learned and highlights best practice and design elements for ensuring humane handling and stunning of horses.  
Anne Allen
Updates and emerging issues in small ruminant euthanasia
Duration: 30:23
This session will discuss recent advancements in euthanasia methodology for small ruminants as well as brief discussion of emerging issues related to euthanasia in small ruminants.
Paul Plummer