Member comment sought on draft guidelines for depopulation

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A draft version of the first AVMA Guidelines for the Depopulation of Animals is now available for review and comment by AVMA members.

Once finalized, the guidelines will represent the first detailed guidance the AVMA has provided relating to depopulation, which refers to the large-scale, rapid destruction of multiple animals in response to an emergency event such as a natural disaster, hazardous zoonotic or foreign animal disease outbreak, terrorist activity, or radiological incident. Comments on the draft guidelines are due no later than April 16.

The guidelines address depopulation starting from the point at which a decision to depopulate has been made. Consistent with the AVMA’s approach to euthanasia, they reflect the Association’s concern for the ethical treatment of animals at all stages of life.

The guidelines aim to ensure as much consideration is given to animal welfare as practicable within the constraints of an emergency event. The guidelines support advance planning to maximize opportunities to use a preferred technique, and they provide guidance for decision-making during an emergency when options can be highly constrained.

AVMA members are invited to review and comment on the draft AVMA Guidelines for the Depopulation of Animals, which include sections relating to companion animals, laboratory animals, bovids, swine, small ruminants, poultry, equids, aquatic animals, and captive and free-ranging wildlife.

The draft guidelines were developed by a group of more than 50 volunteers, which included representatives from a variety of veterinary organizations. The Department of Agriculture supported the development of the guidelines financially. The USDA and National Institutes for Health each provided an adviser to the panel.

The draft guidelines and comment form are available at