Philosophy on animal welfare and the veterinarian


Ratification Date: 31 Dec 2009


Veterinarians by virtue of their training, skill and knowledge promote animal welfare at all levels of activity and interactions with humans or animals.


When humans make use of animals, or alter in any way their natural environment, a level of care should be established that befits human dignity as rational and compassionate beings.

Such care should be humane, which implies empathy with the animal, an avoidance of unnecessary stress, and the demonstration of compassion towards a fellow creature.

Veterinarians have particular skills and professional responsibility to ensure that animals owned by and/or controlled by people receive adequate care. This responsibility should be exercised in all the human–animal relationships, from animals in the wild making brief contact with humans to farmed, flock and herd animals, companion animals, and animals used in sport, entertainment, education and research.

Veterinarians will, on occasion, find themselves called on to give an expert opinion about the adequacy of an owner’s care in different management systems – for example, in relation to imposed behaviour patterns and environments where the owners’ financial rewards, entertainment or self-glorification are the prime objectives. The veterinarian’s expert opinion should be based on an objective assessment of animal welfare concerns.

Other relevant policies and position statements

Animal abuse

Date of ratification by AVA Board: January 2010.