Animal Welfare

CVMA Task Force on Animal Welfare Principles

Introduction for Animal Welfare Principles,  April 11, 2008

As the human population has changed over the last several decades to reflect a society that is more urban, with increased disposable income and generally not directly involved in the production of their own food, so too has the animal population that we serve changed. We as veterinarians are expected to be educated on welfare issues and advocates for animal welfare of all species.

Dr. Gail Golab from AVMA explains “Animal welfare is a human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper  housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling, and when necessary humane euthanasia.” This is different from animal rights which Dr. Golab explains is “a philosophical view and personal value characterized by various groups and individuals.”

CVMA has followed in the footsteps of AVMA and several other states that have already adopted their own Principles of Animal Welfare in order to have an objective tool to evaluate issues and assist in making consistent decisions when it comes to issues of animal welfare.

The Principles that follow have been laboriously scrutinized and each word evaluated by the CVMA Task Force on Animal Welfare Principles, which is comprised of CVMA members from all areas of the state and a variety of professional settings.


Dr. Melanie Marsden
Task Force on Animal Welfare Principles


AVMA Animal Welfare Principles

The AVMA, as a medical authority for the health and welfare of animals, offers the following eight integrated principles for developing and evaluating animal welfare policies, resolutions, and actions.

  • The responsible use of animals for human purposes, such as companionship, food, fiber, recreation, work, education, exhibition, and research conducted for the benefit of both humans and animals, is consistent with the Veterinarian’s Oath.
  • Decisions regarding animal care, use, and welfare shall be made by balancing scientific knowledge and professional judgment with consideration of ethical and societal values.
  • Animals must be provided water, food, proper handling, healthcare, and an environment appropriate to their care and use, with thoughtful consideration for their species-typical biology and behavior.
  • Animals should be cared for in ways that minimize fear, pain, stress, and suffering.
  • Procedures related to animal housing, management, care, and use should be continuously evaluated, and when indicated, refined or replaced.
  • Conservation and management of animal populations should be humane, socially responsible, and scientifically prudent.
  • Animals shall be treated with respect and dignity throughout their lives and, when necessary, provided a humane death.
  • The veterinary profession shall continually strive to improve animal health and welfare through scientific research, education, collaboration, advocacy, and the development of legislation and regulations.

AVMA offers resources on animal welfare, including science and policy, advocacy, education, and networking.

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