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Way to Go, AVMA!
Veterinarians issue new guidelines for responsible pet ownership

The executive board of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recently approved the content of the following brand new, hot-off-the-press pet ownership guidelines. Have a look and see what you think.

Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership

Owning a pet is a privilege and should result in a mutually beneficial relationship. However, the benefits of pet ownership come with obligations. Responsible pet ownership includes:

  • Committing to the relationship for the life of the pet(s).
  • Avoiding impulsive decisions about obtaining pet(s), and carefully selecting pet(s) suited to your home and lifestyle.
  • Recognizing that ownership of pet(s) requires an investment of time and money.
  • Keeping only the type and number of pets for which an appropriate and safe environment can be provided, including adequate and appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.
  • Ensuring pets are properly identified (i.e., tags, microchips, or tattoos) and that registration information in associated databases is kept up-to-date.
  • Adherence to local ordinances, including licensing and leash requirements.
  • Controlling pet(s) reproduction through managed breeding, containment, or spay/neuter, thereby helping to address animal control and overpopulation problems.
  • Establishing and maintaining a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.
  • Providing preventive (e.g., vaccinations, parasite control) and therapeutic health care for the life of the pet(s) in consultation with, and as recommended by, its veterinarian.
  • Socialization and appropriate training for pet(s), which facilitates their well-being and the well-being of other animals and people.
  • Preventing pet(s) from negatively impacting other people, animals and the environment, including proper waste disposal, noise control, and not allowing pet(s) to stray or become feral.
  • Providing exercise and mental stimulation appropriate to the pet(s)’ age, breed, and health status.
  • Advance preparation to ensure the pet(s)’ well-being in the case of an emergency or disaster, including assembling an evacuation kit.
  • Making alternative arrangements if caring for the pet is no longer possible.
  • Recognizing declines in the pet(s) quality of life and making decisions in consultation with a veterinarian regarding appropriate end-of-life care (e.g., palliative care, hospice, euthanasia).

“AMEN!” is my response to these guidelines and kudos to the AVMA for issuing them forth to the public. Now, if only they were rules rather than mere guidelines! With all due respect to the AVMA, I would add one more item to their guidelines as a means of working towards the extinction of puppy mills. That item would be, “Never, ever purchase a puppy from a pet store or online site and sight unseen.”

What do you think of these AVMA guidelines for responsible pet ownership? Do you have any suggested additions for the AVMA to consider?

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Nancy Kay, DVM, Dipl., American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, is a 2009 recipient of AAHA's Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award and author of Speaking for Spot.

speakingforspot.com

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