The Executive Board approved a series of recommendations from the Animal Welfare Committee, including changes to some animal welfare policies.
The board approved revisions to a policy on euthanasia of unwanted animals. The new wording broadens the scope to include animals unfit for adoption, better describes individuals who should be performing euthanasia, and references the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia. The revised policy states the following:
EUTHANASIA OF ANIMALS THAT ARE UNWANTED OR UNFIT FOR ADOPTION
The AVMA is not opposed to the euthanasia of unwanted animals or those unfit for adoption, when conducted by qualified personnel, using appropriate humane methods as described in the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.
Another newly revised policy approved by the board is Use of Animals in Research, Testing, and Education. This policy now references the range of individuals and organizations affected by acts of extremists in the animal rights movement and recognizes the ethical responsibilities (in addition to the already stated professional, scientific, and moral obligations) associated with animal use. The revised policy states the following:
USE OF ANIMALS IN RESEARCH, TESTING, AND EDUCATION
The AVMA recognizes that animals play a central and essential role in research, testing, and education for continued improvement in the health and welfare of human beings and animals. The AVMA also recognizes that humane care of animals used in research, testing, and education is an integral part of those activities. In keeping with these concerns, the AVMA endorses the principles embodied in the "Three R" tenet of Russell and Burch (1959). These principles are: refinement of experimental methods to eliminate or reduce animal pain and distress; reduction of the number of animals consistent with sound experimental design; and replacement of animals with non-animal methods wherever feasible.
The use of animals in research, testing, and education is a privilege carrying with it unique professional, scientific, and moral obligations, and ethical responsibilities. The AVMA encourages proper stewardship of all animals, but defends and promotes the use of animals in meaningful research, testing, and education programs.
The AVMA condemns all acts of violence, vandalism, or intimidation directed toward individuals, facilities, or tertiary organizations affiliated with the use of animals in research, testing, or education.
The board approved revisions to the policy Use of Random-Source Dogs and Cats for Research, Testing, and Education to ensure that it is consistent with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act and with local and state laws governing acquisition and use of animals for such purposes. The revised policy states the following:
USE OF RANDOM-SOURCE DOGS AND CATS FOR RESEARCH, TESTING, AND EDUCATION
The carefully controlled use of random-source dogs and cats contributes greatly to improving the health and welfare of both animals and human beings. Therefore, the AVMA believes there is ample justification for prudent and humane use of random-source dogs and cats in research, testing, and education, provided that:
- The institution conducting such research, testing, or education has met all legal requirements and guidelines pertaining to the acquisition, care, and use of dogs and cats for these purposes;
- The investigators have thoughtfully examined the need for such dogs and cats, appropriately justified the use of the species, and carefully determined the minimum number required to meet the needs of the protocol;
- Adequate safeguards are used to ensure that only appropriately screened dogs and cats are obtained legally;
- Preventive measures are taken to optimize the health of dogs and cats used in research, testing, and education.
The board reaffirmed AVMA endorsement of the American Association of Equine Practitioners' policy Management of Mares Used in the Pregnant Mare Urine (PMU) Collection Industry. It now includes a footnote clarifying which version of the referenced Code of Practice the AVMA has reviewed and deemed acceptable. This annotated policy states the following:
MANAGEMENT OF MARES USED IN THE PREGNANT MARE URINE (PMU) COLLECTION INDUSTRY
The AVMA endorses the American Association of Equine Practitioners' (AAEP) position statement on "Management of Mares Used in the Pregnant Mare Urine (PMU) Collection Industry," which reads as follows:
"Through on-site investigations and peer review of ongoing research, the American Association of Equine Practitioners believes the collection of urine from pregnant mares and care of their offspring as prescribed by the recommended Code of Practice* represents responsible management of horses to produce a commodity for the benefit of mankind that should not result in abuse, neglect, or inhumane treatment of horses."
*The AVMA reviewed the 2007 edition of the Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Horses in PMU Operations as developed by the PMU Study Committee and published by Manitoba Agriculture and Ayerst Organics (available at: www.naeric.org/inc/pdf/codeofpractice.pdf)
The board approved a replacement policy titled Animals Used in Entertainment, Shows and for Exhibition; it replaces three AVMA policies by combining them into a single, cohesive statement, which reads as follows:
ANIMALS USED IN ENTERTAINMENT, SHOWS AND FOR EXHIBITION
The AVMA supports the humane and ethical use of animals in spectator events, shows, exhibitions, motion pictures, and television in accord with existing federal, state, and local animal protection laws. The AVMA encourages all organizations involved with animals in spectator events, shows, exhibitions, motion pictures, and television to develop, implement, and enforce appropriate guidelines or standards to ensure humane treatment of these animals, including provision of veterinary care.
Further, the AVMA recommends that any spectator events involving animals be conducted in a manner that minimizes injury and that veterinary care be provided or be readily available. Examples of such events include but are not limited to animal exhibitions, dog racing, dog sled racing, field trials, horse racing, polo, and rodeo. The AVMA condemns the fraudulent use of drugs, non-nutritive agents, or procedures intended to alter performance, conformation, appearance, or other functions of animals in competition. The Association urges its members to report such activities to the appropriate authorities.
The AVMA also condemns the use of live animals for training racing dogs, and the practice of "soring" as defined by and covered under The Horse Protection Act, 15 U.S.C §§ 1821-1831; 9 C.F.R ch.1, parts 11, 12.
Another replacement policy approved by the board combines an AVMA memorandum of understanding and a set of AVMA guidelines into the new AVMA Guidelines for Veterinarians and Veterinary Associations Working with Animal Control and Animal Welfare Organizations. Feedback from stakeholder groups was obtained before the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee decided to combine the policies to eliminate redundancies and to be more inclusive of the roles of veterinarians and their associations, animal control agencies, and animal welfare organizations that shelter animals. These guidelines and other AVMA policies are accessible via www.avma.org; click on the blue Issues bar and scroll down to AVMA policies.
The board approved the committee's recommendation to re-endorse the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research's (National Research Council of the National Academies) policy Use of Animals in Precollege Education, with a minor editorial change.
Besides policy changes, the board approved a new liaison with the Federation of Animal Science Societies' Scientific Advisory Committee on Animal Care, Use, and Standards. The liaison relationship is expected to expand the knowledge base and influence of both groups, harmonize animal welfare policies when appropriate, and prevent duplication of effort in addressing issues. Both groups advocate a science-based approach to animal welfare. The cost of the relationship will not exceed $2,000 per year.