The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) recognize that sentient animals are capable of pain and suffering, deserving consideration and respect.
The AVMA and FVE recognize that veterinarians—as knowledgeable and accountable professionals—have an opportunity and an obligation to help animal owners, caretakers, handlers, and policy makers protect and improve animals' welfare.
Consistent with the internationally accepted five freedoms,1 animals must be provided water, food, proper handling, health care, and environments appropriate to their species and use, and should be cared for in ways that prevent and minimize fear, pain, distress, and suffering.
Establishing and implementing good animal care is a balancing act involving animal needs, human needs, societal expectations, and environmental concerns. Actions taken to improve animal welfare should be informed by veterinary, ethological, ecological, and ethical considerations.
In serving animals and society, veterinarians have unique attributes that make them valuable partners and effective advocates. Among these are:
All veterinarians have an opportunity to provide education and knowledge that can promote welfare-friendly animal care practices. Veterinarians must not only work to implement existing standards, but must also contribute to ensuring continual improvement of those standards.
Veterinarians in different types of practices may have unique roles:
Veterinarians are, and must continually strive to be, the leading advocates for the good welfare of animals in a continually evolving society.