Once finalized, the guidelines will represent the first detailed guidance the AVMA has provided relating to depopulation, which refers to the large-scale rapid destruction of multiple animals in response to an emergency event such as a natural disaster, hazardous zoonotic or foreign animal disease outbreak, terrorist activity, or radiological incident. Comments on the draft guidelines are due no later than April 16.
The guidelines address depopulation starting from the point at which a decision to depopulate has been made. Consistent with the AVMA’s approach to euthanasia, they reflect the AVMA’s concern for the ethical treatment of animals at all stages of life. The guidelines aim to ensure as much consideration is given to animal welfare as practicable within the constraints of an emergency event.
To ensure the best possible animal welfare, the guidelines support advanced planning for possible emergency situations and provide guidance for making decisions during an emergency.
All AVMA members are invited to review and comment on the draft AVMA Guidelines for the Depopulation of Animals, which include sections relating to companion animals, laboratory animals, bovines, swine, small ruminants, poultry, equids, aquatics, and captive and free-ranging wildlife.
The draft guidelines represent the third product in the AVMA’s Humane Endings series, which addresses the humane treatment of all animals killed for a range of purposes, including the depopulation of animals during an emergency and the slaughter of animals raised for food. The draft guidelines were developed by a group of more than 50 volunteers which included representatives from a variety of veterinary organizations including the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, American Association of Avian Pathologists, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners, and the American Animal Hospital Association among others. The U.S. Department of Agriculture supported the development of the guidelines financially and, provided an advisor to the Panel along with the National Institute for Health.
The Humane Endings series also includes the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals, which were most recently revised in 2013, and the AVMA Guidelines for the Humane Slaughter of Animals (released in 2016).