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AVMA revises Veterinarian's Oath


Veterinarian's Oath amended to include clause about animal welfare.

Schaumburg, Ill.

-- A new addition to the Veterinarian’s Oath will identify animal welfare as a priority of the veterinary profession.

In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Executive Board approved a recommendation from its Animal Welfare Committee to add new language to the oath at its Nov. 18-20 meetings.

The new section reads: “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.”

The original Veterinarian’s Oath was adopted by the House of Delegates in 1954 and only has been revised twice—once in 1969 and again in 1999. The newest revision is the result of extensive deliberation, says Executive Board Chair John R. Brooks in a statement from AVMA.

“The message is we as the AVMA and veterinarians in general do recognize that protecting animal well-being is what we’re all about,” Brooks says.

“From today forward, every graduate entering our profession will swear an oath not only to protect animal health but also welfare; to not only relieve animal suffering but to prevent it. That’s a powerful statement defining ourselves and our responsibilities, not a vague symbol,” adds Dr. J. Bruce Nixon, chairman-elect of the Animal Welfare Commission.

AVMA says the “proactive” revision stresses that veterinarians not only have responsbilities for an animal’s health, but also its welfare, moving beyond a position of just treatment to one of prevention and treatment.

The oath previously made no mention of animal welfare and, while the revision does not include definition of what animal welfare means, the result of deliberations on the language addition was that it already is past the time to act if AVMA is to be seen as a leader in animal welfare—a goal the group stressed at the Joint International Educational Symposium on Animal Welfare it co-sponsored last year.

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