AVMA delegates unanimously approve responsible breeding policy


Veterinarians seek to reduce the prevalence of inherited disorders in companion animals without condemning or stigmatizing specific breeds.

Earlier this month, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) House of Delegates (HOD) unanimously approved a new policy on inherited disorders and the responsible breeding of companion animals, according to an AVMA release.

The AVMA's Animal Welfare Committee, an 18-member group of representatives from various veterinary organizations, drafted the policy, which was amended by the delegates before reaching its final approved form. It reads:

To maximize the health and welfare of companion animals, the AVMA supports research in genetic and inherited disorders to better educate the profession and breeders on identifying and minimizing inherited disorders in companion animal breeding programs. To assist with this, the AVMA encourages veterinarians to pursue continuing education in the emerging area of genetic disease in companion animals. The AVMA also encourages veterinarians to educate breeders, companion animal owners, and the public on the responsibilities involved with breeding and selecting companion animals. 

The policy intentionally uses the phrase “companion animals,” as the issue extends beyond dogs and cats, the release states. According to an article from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, both rabbits and rats are commonly bred to have traits that negatively impact their health.

The AVMA states that the “purpose of this policy is to support responsible breeding practices that reduce or eliminate the health and welfare concerns associated with inherited conditions, not to condemn or stigmatize specific breeds.” This points to why the original draft (included in the JAVMA article) was amended. It read:

The AVMA supports the responsible breeding of companion animals such that only animals without deleterious inherited disorders are selected for breeding. Companion animals exhibiting inherited characteristics that negatively affect the animal's health and welfare should not be bred, as those characteristics and related problems are likely to be passed on to their progeny. This would include inherited conditions such as brachycephalic syndrome, some joint diseases, bone deformation (e.g., radial hypoplasia “twisty cats”, munchkin), heart and eye conditions, or poor temperament (e.g., Springer rage syndrome). The AVMA encourages veterinarians to educate breeders, pet owners and the public on the responsibilities involved with breeding and selecting pets to ensure that they are not contributing to poor welfare issues.

According to the AVMA, the newly enacted policy “is consistent with existing policies or guidance provided by the American Animal Hospital Association and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.”

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