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.

Featured Topic: The Conversation

The AVMA strongly focused on ensuring that veterinarians continue to be recognized as primary protectors of animals' welfare. This includes assisting veterinarians with access to the information and tools they need to become even better scientific advisors and advocates.

Veterinarians care for an incredible range of animals in a diversity of environments. A recognized need to be able to share information and have an intraprofessional conversation was the impetus for an initiative called The Conversation, which began with a 2013 meeting in Rosemont, Illinois. A variety of activities are in the planning stage to facilitate broader discussion, but if you are an AVMA or SAVMA member, you can jump onboard right now by joining The Conversation on LinkedIn.

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."

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.

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.


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.

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.


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