Animal Welfare Committee

The Animal Welfare Committee advises on issues related to animal welfare, guided by the overarching AVMA Animal Welfare Principles.


All activities of the Animal Welfare Committee will be guided by the overarching AVMA Animal Welfare Principles and be consistent with the goals for animal welfare as approved by the Board of Directors. The committee is charged with these responsibilities:

  • Seek information pertaining to animal welfare issues from groups internal and external to the AVMA.
  • Clearly identify and evaluate animal welfare issues to determine those important to the AVMA.
  • Prioritize activities (e.g., agenda items) to be accomplished for each committee meeting.
  • Study prioritized issues and, as necessary, recommend relevant AVMA action.
  • Actively communicate, through committee members, with organization(s) that are represented.
  • Send members as necessary to engage in discussion, promote AVMA policy, and report on developments at appropriate national and international meetings and other venues.
  • Conduct visits as necessary to gather information in order to make informed decisions regarding specific animal welfare concerns and to draft relevant policy.

Membership, method of appointment, and representation

Members representing different disciplines are appointed by the AVMA Board of Directors from nominations received from veterinary organizations. Organizations nominating representatives that are rejected for cause will be requested to offer additional nominees. Members will serve once-renewable, three-year terms, except the Student AVMA, which appoints its representative to a one-year, renewable term. The Animal Welfare Committee chair will identify the professionally credentialed ethicist who will attend its meetings as an invited guest.

The committee has 18 members and alternates representing:

  • American Animal Hospital Association
  • American Association of Avian Pathologists
  • American Association of Equine Practitioners
  • American Association of Industry Veterinarians
  • American Association of Feline Practitioners
  • American Association of Bovine Practitioners
  • American Association of Swine Veterinarians
  • American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners
  • American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners
  • Veterinary Medical Association Executives
  • Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
  • Association of Shelter Veterinarians
  • Association of Avian Veterinarians
  • American Association of Fish Veterinarians
  • At-large member
  • Humane or animal welfare organizations
  • Student AVMA
  • American Association of Zoo Veterinarians/American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians
Invited representatives:
  • USDA/APHIS deputy administrator for animal care or their designee
  • USDA/APHIS Veterinary Services farm animal welfare coordinator or their designee
  • USDA/FSIS humane handling enforcement coordinator or their designee
Invited guests:
  • Professionally credentialed ethicist

Management Subcommittee 

A five-member subcommittee, comprised of the Animal Welfare Committee chair, chair-elect, and three other members, is elected for one-year terms from within the Animal Welfare Committee’s membership. Food animal, laboratory animal, and companion animal veterinary medicine must be represented on the subcommittee. The chair-elect automatically moves to the chair position the following year. The chair-elect shall be elected from the membership of the subcommittee.

The subcommittee is charged with these responsibilities:

  1. Review policy and procedures.
  2. Prioritize and develop recommendations for Animal Welfare Committee review.
  3. Serve as a strategic planning committee.
  4. Be primarily responsible for developing the agenda for each meeting.
  5. Address and take appropriate action within established AVMA policy on other matters referred to it by a member of the Animal Welfare Committee or staff between meetings.
  6. Act on behalf of the Animal Welfare Committee between meetings of the committee on time-sensitive issues.


The Animal Welfare Committee shall hold two, two-day/two-night meetings each year in Schaumburg, Illinois. The Management Subcommittee of the Animal Welfare Committee shall hold quarterly meetings as follows:

  • Two, one-day/one-night meetings to occur in conjunction with the Animal Welfare Committee meetings in Schaumburg, Illinois.
  • Two meetings to occur in the intervening quarters. One of these meetings (two days/two nights) may be held in Schaumburg, Illinois, and the other is conducted electronically.


The AVMA will reimburse committee members for authorized expenses. The professionally credentialed ethicist will also be reimbursed for authorized expenses.


The committee will report to the Executive Board at its fall and spring meetings each year.

Life expectancy

The committee will be reviewed in compliance with AVMA governance policies.