HOD calls for health-conscious breeding guidelines for dogs, cats

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Sitting cat The AVMA House of Delegates has called for the AVMA to collaborate with others on breeding practices and guidelines to minimize inherited disorders in dogs and cats.

The HOD passed the resolution during its regular annual session, held July 12-13 in conjunction with AVMA Convention 2018 in Denver. The resolution calls for the AVMA Board of Directors to consider AVMA collaboration with breed associations and stakeholders such as the American Kennel Club and the Cat Fanciers' Association "to develop recommendations on enhancing health-conscious breeding practices and guidelines with the goal of minimizing inherited disorders in dogs and cats."

Dr. Rafael Laguens, president of the Federation of Veterinarians in Europe, said in his address to the HOD that the FVE and Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations have just adopted a position paper on breeding healthy dogs. According to the paper, "There has been an explosion in the popularity of certain breeds with exaggerated traits, especially of those with extreme brachycephalic conformation."

Dr. Richard Sullivan, California delegate to the HOD, said in an HOD committee discussion that the California VMA initiated the resolution, which ultimately was submitted by eight state VMAs. He said, "The profession is kind of stuck in the middle. We have humane groups that think we are facilitating what's going on in the purebred breeds, and as veterinarians, our oath says we have to help these animals no matter how we receive them."

Dr. Jerry Klein, AKC chief veterinary officer, thanked the AVMA for reaching out regarding the topic. He said, "Hopefully, together we can educate breeders and veterinarians to help make recommendations for best breeding practices to enhance the health and well-being of all dogs."

The original resolution had referred to breed standards. Dr. Klein said, "When members of AKC hear the word 'standard,' that can be sometimes words of war. The standard is basically a bible of that breed."

The HOD committee proposed and the HOD passed an amendment to the original resolution to refer to breeding practices and guidelines rather than breed standards as well as to refer to dogs and cats generally rather than purebred dogs and cats.

Also in the HOD committee meeting, Dr. Kathleen Smiler, Michigan delegate to the HOD, suggested that the AVMA should bring large-scale breeders of purebred dogs into the discussion as stakeholders.

Related JAVMA content:

AVMA deliberates on breed standards, devocalization (July 1, 2018)

AVMA passes policy on responsible pet breeding (March 1, 2017)