Veterinary leaders support science-based OIE animal welfare policies

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International veterinary leaders have sent letters to the Office International des Epizooties expressing their support for a science-based approach to the organization's animal welfare initiatives.

The International Veterinary Officers Council, comprising representatives from the AVMA, the Australian Veterinary Association, the British Veterinary Association, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, and the New Zealand Veterinary Association, sent a letter to the OIE urging it to continue using a science-based approach to developing animal welfare policies. The IVOC participants decided to draft the letter during the fifth meeting of the council, held in Chicago, May 9-10.

Dr. Bernard Vallat, the director general of OIE, responded to the letter sent by AVMA Executive Vice President Dr. Bruce W. Little by outlining the OIE's science-based approach to making animal welfare policies.

Dr. Vallat explained that the member countries of OIE determined that it is the international organization best suited to address animal welfare because of the link between animal health and welfare, and that animal welfare standards must be based on sound science, just as animal health standards are.

The OIE's Working Group on Animal Welfare has established a mission statement and guiding principles and policies, which were agreed upon by all member countries during the 2003 OIE General Session. The working group is developing a database of animal welfare experts nominated by member countries, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals. Additionally, the OIE will hold the Global Conference on Animal Welfare, Feb. 23-25, 2004 in Paris. For more information, visit

In addition to discussing international animal welfare policies, the IVOC members exchanged information and resources to help each other address the need for more rural veterinarians, veterinary education, the economics of the profession, and other issues affecting veterinarians around the world. The British Veterinary Association is hosting the council's next meeting, April 16-17, 2004, at a location to be determined.