In June, the AVMA began more strongly encouraging education for those who would privately own potentially dangerous wildlife as well as endorsing ownership requirements such as licensing or inspections.
The Association’s previous policy focused more on limiting or prohibiting such ownership except under special circumstances.
The AVMA Executive Board approved in June renaming the AVMA policy “Private Ownership of Wild Animals“ as “Ownership or Possession of Wild Animals or their Hybrids” and made other changes to the policy. The board members also approved the policy “Release of Wild Animal Species and Exotic Pet Species,” which states that no wild or exotic animals should be released from captivity unless authorized by regulators and that owners unable to keep their exotic or wild animals should work with regulators and qualified organizations—such as zoos—to achieve a proper disposition.
Dr. Clark K. Fobian, who represents Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota on the Executive Board and is the board’s liaison to the AVMA Committee on Environmental Issues, said many aspects of the previous animal ownership policy were covered by existing federal laws such as those governing protection of endangered species and the environment. Members of the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee, Committee on Environmental Issues, and Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Committee instead decided to focus on developing this and future policies on the basis of the prevailing scientific attitudes.
“Just reiterating the law was not the intent of the policy,” he said.
Dr. Fobian said the two policies developed by the committees are available to AVMA members to use as they see fit in working with the public and legislators.
The previous policy on ownership had referred to “exotic” animals, but the term was removed from the current policy, which covers all wild animal species, not just exotic pets. The current policy also addresses private and public ownership of all wild animals and hybrids, rather than just private ownership of wild species.