Companion Animal Law Blog

Bringing together those whose lives and livelihoods revolve around companion animals

Kudos To Two Veterinarian Associations For Reiterating Their Commitment To Animals


Day in and day out, veterinarians work tirelessly to care for our companion animals.  On some days, they experience the joy of performing an initial wellness exam on a newly rescued dog or cat.  And on other days, they help us through painful and heartbreaking decisions and final moments with our best friends.

Bark Magazine’s recent blog post on The Bark highlights further lengths that veterinarian associations have recently taken to help the animals they serve every day.

Last month, the American Veterinary Medical Association Executive Board voted to revise to the oath taken by veterinarians to highlight animal welfare as a priority.  The Board added the parts in bold to the existing oath:

“Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.”

For more on the process of how this change came about, check out the article, Veterinarian’s Oath Revised to Emphasis Animal Welfare Commitment on the AVMA’s website.

Earlier this month, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians Board of Directors released its Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters, which is the result of the two-year ASV Shelter Standards Project initiative.  The Guidelines address the “Five Freedoms”:

  • Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
  • Freedom from Discomfort – by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  • Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  • Freedom to Express Normal Behavior– by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
  • Freedom from Fear and Distress – by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

The Guidelines come up with 12 recommendations for animal shelters in the following areas:  management and record keeping, facility design and environment, population management, sanitation, medical health and physical well-being, behavioral health and mental well-being, group housing, animal handling, euthanasia, spay/neuter, transport, and public health.

If you would like to know more, visit the ASV website’s information page about the Project, which includes a link to the full version of the 65-page Guidelines.

These developments – particularly with the AVMA oath – are timely considering a recent MSNBC story, “When I Die, So Does My Dog:  Some Pet Owners Take Animals To Their Graves.”  Reading that story made me wonder if a vet would or could refuse to euthanize a healthy companion animal like the two-year old Yorkie mentioned.  As I delve more into pet trusts, I vow to educate a client who wished to have their pets euthanized upon their death about this new oath and the many wonderful options for caregivers.  [Hint, hint – to learn more about estate planning options for your companion animals, keep your eye out for a certain upcoming NovaDog Magazine article!]

Author: Heidi Meinzer

Attorney and Animal Lover, not necessarily in that order

11 thoughts on “Kudos To Two Veterinarian Associations For Reiterating Their Commitment To Animals

  1. Pingback: Happy New Year! Looking Back at 10 Posts from 2010 « Companion Animal Law Blog

  2. Great blog…just popped in from Pet Blogger day..\

  3. I am enjoying reading your blog.

    However – I must respectfully point out that the American Veterinary Medical Association is pro-equine slaughter, and AVMA participated as a sponsor of the so-called “Equine Summit” which was put on in Las Vegas recently by two pro-slaughter people including Wyoming Representative Sue Wallis who is currently being investigated for various frauds by the State of Wyoming and with her associates is trying really hard to bring horse slaughter back to the US.

    Additionally, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, another veterinary professional association with an equine focus is also pro-slaughter and it is startling how many of the AAEP member veterinarians are themselves pro-slaughter. In my opinion, veterinarian professional associations should be walking their “animal welfare” talk because as many years of in-depth investigations have revealed there is absolutely nothing whatsoever humane about equine slaughter or completely inhumane transport across the border for same.

    If you look at the professional associations (AVMA, AAEP) and breed associations who are pro-equine slaughter who are part of the so-called “Unwanted Horse Coalition”, read their real agendas, it will become more clear. (Akin to the American Kennel Club lobbying against the closing of puppy mills, because registration fees are a large financial piece of AKC’s financial pie.)

    I am not trying to co-opt your blog. I am just always amazed at how many organizations claim to be pro-animal welfare (not “animal rights” – and I am NOT a PETA fan in the least!) or even may name themselves something that implies they are committed to animal welfare, when the opposite is the real truth.

    Commitment of veterinary medical associations to animal welfare seems to me to be diametrically opposed to those associations taking a political stance such as their pro-slaughter agenda. There is a “disconnect” there which believe me has not gone unnoticed by pet parents everywhere.

    • Thanks so much for your comments! I am very glad to have this input. Part of the reason I wanted to start this blog was to create a dialogue, and to learn what is really going on. So many folks have their ears to the ground on things, and I very much welcome information — especially when it comes to animal welfare issues such as the horse slaughtering crisis. Please keep reading, and keep commenting!!!

  4. Thanks, Heidi. I try to do a small part in getting out the truth about those who claim to be all about equine “welfare” but who are hiding a pro-slaughter agenda. Good places to lookup to read about the slaughter issue if you are anti-slaughter is the writings of John Holland and RT Fitch. Fitch tends to get a bit carried away and if you have worked in the field of animal welfare for long you no doubt have realized that excess emotionalism doesn’t do any cause any good because people stop listening after a while. Holland has so many solid statistics, has talked to so many people, writes so matter-of-factly with hard data supporting what he writes and backs his work up further with for example releases of information obtained under FOIA requests (including videos and photos which if you are prone to nightmares you really don’t want to watch). You might also enjoy reading fugly blog dot com, mostly about horses though the post the blogger did recently on Michael Vick earned about 300 responding posts, very good (very scary) stuff. Seems these days all one has to do is blog two words “Vick” and “dogs” to unleash a deluge of posts….

    • I hear you about the Vick phenomena. I’ve touched on that in one of my posts, and I still see a pretty good amount of hits on it.

      One thing about equine welfare that I have often considered is whether Virginia should put horses under the companion animal definition instead of the agricultural animal definition. That would make the standards — at least for horses — much better than the incredibly basic standards proposed in the new 3.2-6503.1 statute.

      • The idea of re-aligning equines with companion animal status is widely debated. I’m on the side of having them designated companion animals. However – remember – in most states the laws governing companion animal care minimum standards or defining abuse/neglect and the consequences of same – aren’t really much better than livestock laws. You might want to take a look at at least one municipality which I believe has actually in its city ordinances re-defined horses as companion animals, that would be the City of Norco in California. Supposedly horses even have right-of-way in the streets! (that concept is pure heaven for someone like me who has always wanted to live where I could ride or drive a horse wherever I wanted to go, with the exception of Amish country because I couldn’t stomach what they do to animals). In addition to Norco I have been hearing that there are other communities – cities and towns rather than states – which have granted companion animal status to at least mini donkeys and horses, chickens (very widely accepted, actually) and even some to the smaller pot bellied pigs. Where those communities do any of this it is done by ordinance and is tied to other ordinances insofar as housing lot sizes and setbacks and health/sanitation requirements.

  5. Pingback: Thanks To Sara Coolidge And Veterinarian Colleges For Acknowledging Animal Advocacy Blogs! « Companion Animal Law Blog

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