August 15, 2004


 AVMA Answers

Posted Aug. 1, 2004

Why was it important for the AVMA Executive Board to approve creation of the Task Force on the Legal Status of Animals?

Dr. Bonnie V. Beaver, 2004-2005 AVMA president, responds:

Legal matters pertaining to pet ownership and an animal's value are extremely important to animal owners, veterinarians, and anyone else who deals with animals in one form or another. It's important for the AVMA to show leadership in this area by developing scientifically based consensus statements that will inform discussion on these areas.

What issues would you like to see the task force address?

The task force will study the legal ramifications of pet guardianship and recovery of noneconomic damages for the injury, loss, or death of a pet. It will present its findings to the Executive Board with recommended positions for the AVMA to adopt on both subjects. The task force report will include reasons for the recommended positions, which could be used to address relevant public policies.

Regarding the recovery of noneconomic damages for harmed pets, the task force might propose ways of determining whether an animal was of special value to an owner. Such measures might be proving the animal has a high psychologic value to the owner or demonstrating that the owner has taken extremely good care of the animal.

What is the advantage of creating a task force?

Certain issues require a certain expertise, and that's the value of a task force. We've invited individuals with a vested interest in these particular matters to come together on the task force. This structure allows members to study the legal status of animals while helping them to understand each member's motivations. It also allows members to come together with that common knowledge to work together for the benefit of the animal, instead of debating each other on specific points later on.