Board acts on human-animal bond issues

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On recommendation from the Committee on the Human-Animal Bond, the AVMA Executive Board approved several reaffirmations and revisions to policy statements, guidelines, and endorsements related to the human-animal bond.

Among the recommendations, the board amended, reaffirmed, and combined two human-animal bond policy statements, making them a single AVMA policy. The Human-Animal Bond policy now reads as follows:

The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment. The veterinarian's role in the human-animal bond is to maximize the potentials of this relationship between people and animals.

The AVMA officially recognizes: (1) the existence of the human-animal bond and its importance to client and community health, (2) that the human-animal bond has existed for thousands of years, and (3) that the human-animal bond has major significance for veterinary medicine, because, as veterinary medicine serves society, it fulfills both human and animal needs.

The board reaffirmed the AVMA Guidelines for Pet Loss Support Services, which are available here.

The board reaffirmed the AVMA's endorsement of the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations' Geneva Declaration, listing their resolutions relating to human-animal interactions, and Prague Declaration, listing their guidelines relating to animal-assisted activities and therapy. Both declarations are available on the IAHAIO's Web site.

The board reaffirmed the following two separate policy statements.

Nonhuman Primates as Assistance Animals

The AVMA does not support the use of nonhuman primates as assistance animals because of animal welfare concerns, the potential for serious injury, and zoonotic risks.

Dangerous Animal Legislation

The AVMA supports dangerous animal legislation by state, county, or municipal governments provided that legislation does not refer to specific breeds or classes of animals. This legislation should be directed at fostering safety and protection of the general public from animals classified as dangerous.

Also on recommendation from the Committee on the Human-Animal Bond, the board approved revising the AVMA policy statement on the Use of Human-Animal Interactions Terminology. The committee believes that as information is disseminated to a wider and multidisciplinary audience, the use of appropriate terms of reference has become increasingly important. The policy now reads as follows:

AVMA publications and Council and Committee reports should use the terms "human-animal bond," "animal-assisted activity," "animal-assisted therapy," and "resident animal programs" when referring to related activities.

Also of note, the board approved revisions to the AVMA Wellness Guidelines for Animals Used in Animal-Assisted Activity, Animal-Assisted Therapy and Resident Animal Programs. The most substantial revision, made under the "Other Considerations" section, was the addition of the following provision: "The RP (responsible person), veterinarian, and other involved parties must be aware that working animals may need to be retired because of their age, reduced enthusiasm for their job, or physical or behavioral concerns."

For a complete version of the guidelines, log on to

Finally, the board rescinded the AVMA policy statement on pet banning, which was the result of a resolution approved by the AVMA House of Delegates in 1965. The committee reviewed the policy as part of the five-year review directive and found that the resolution had been implemented.