AVMA updates euthanasia guidelines

Published on: Feb 27, 2013

The American Veterinary Medical Assn. (AVMA) published Feb. 27 the 2013 edition of the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. Led by a 13-member panel, more than 60 experts -- including veterinarians, animal scientists, behaviorists, physiologists, psychologists and an ethicist -- deliberated more than three years to create the 2013 guidelines.

Since the first Panel on Euthanasia was convened 50 years ago, the AVMA guidelines have helped veterinarians protect the welfare of animals by setting criteria for euthanasia and specifying appropriate methods and agents. As the guidelines have become increasingly influential (and in some cases recognized as a legal standard), their specificity and scope have increased, the announcement said.

Specifically, the 2013 guidelines acknowledge euthanasia as a process that involves more than just what happens to an animal at the time of its death. In addition to providing more information about techniques used for euthanasia across a broader range of species, AVMA said this edition includes attention to ethical decision-making, provides detailed information about animals' physiologic and behavioral responses to euthanasia, considers euthanasia's effects on those performing and observing it and takes into account the practicality and environmental impacts of various euthanasia approaches.

The new AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals does not address humane slaughter or depopulation, which will be covered in separate documents that are currently under development. More information is available at http://www.avma.org/.