Animal Welfare: The Profession

This page provides access to information that facilitates active engagement of veterinarians and the veterinary team in promoting the welfare of all animals.

Animal Welfare, the Veterinary Profession and the AVMA

Concern for animals' welfare is deeply embedded in core documents that express the fundamental duties of veterinarians toward animals and society. These core documents include the Veterinarian's Oath, the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, and the AVMA Animal Welfare Principles.

"Ensuring animal welfare is a human responsibility that includes consideration for all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention treatment, responsible care, humane handling, and, when necessary, humane euthanasia."

"The AVMA, as a medical authority for the health and welfare of animals, offers integrated principles for developing and evaluating animal welfare policies, resolutions, and actions."

The AVMA's Animal Welfare Committee is charged with recommending animal welfare-related policy for adoption by the AVMA, and is supported in its efforts by the Animal Welfare Division

Broad Policy for the Profession

"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."


AVMA Animal Welfare Award -- This award is given annually to an AVMA member veterinarian to recognize his/her achievements in advancing the welfare of animals via leadership, public service, education, research/product development, and/or advocacy.

Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award -- Named for the late Leo K. Bustad, DVM, PhD, a former dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University and founder of the Delta Society (now Pet Partners), this award recognizes the outstanding work of veterinarians in preserving and protecting the human-animal bond.

AVMA Humane Award -- This award is given annually to a non-veterinarian to recognize his/her achievements in advancing the welfare of animals via leadership, public service, education, research/product development, and/or advocacy.

Volunteer Opportunities

The American Veterinary Medical Association is a member-driven organization that relies on volunteers to help it serve the veterinary profession and successfully achieve its goals. Any AVMA member can volunteer, and the AVMA offers numerous opportunities to do so. As a volunteer, you can help shape the direction of the association, network with colleagues, and forge valuable and lasting relationships. By volunteering, you give back to your profession and influence the development of policy addressing key issues affecting veterinary medicine today. If you are an AVMA or SAVMA member, you can jump onboard right now by joining The Conversation on LinkedIn.

Animal Welfare Committee -- Activities of the Animal Welfare Committee are guided by the AVMA Animal Welfare Principles and are directed toward meeting the association's strategic goals and objectives for animal welfare as established by AVMA leadership.

Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions -- Activities of the Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions (SCHAI) are guided by AVMA policy on the human-animal bond.

Other Volunteer Opportunities


As future members of the profession, veterinary students are welcomed into conversations about animals' welfare at the AVMA. Information specific to students' engagement is available here.

Like the AVMA, the Student AVMA (SAVMA) is volunteer-driven and the committee responsible for these issues within the SAVMA is the SAVMA Animal Welfare-Human Animal Bond Committee.


An AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty college, the mission of the American College of Animal Welfare (ACAW) is to advance animal welfare through education, certification, and scientific investigation. Diplomates of the American College of Animal Welfare are veterinarians with specialized training and experience to carry out the ACAW mission.

The AVMA's Animal Welfare Conversation on LinkedIn