AVMA releases updated, expanded euthanasia guidelines

After more than three years of work and collaboration with many of the sharpest minds in veterinary medicine and academia, the AVMA has finally published its 2013 edition of the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals.

According to the AVMA, the guidelines include input from more than 60 experts including veterinarians, animal scientists, behaviorists, physiologists, psychologists, and an ethicist.

The updates should result in more humane treatment for animals undergoing euthanasia, said Dr. Steven Leary, chair of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia, in an AVMA news release.

“As we learn more about animals - their physiology and psychology - it’s important to update and sometimes change our approaches to euthanasia to ensure we continue to protect their welfare as best as possible,” Leary said.

Updating the guidelines was an important focus for the AVMA, as the organization said it recognized that the guidelines have become a widely used resource and even a legal standard in some cases.

“Panel members take their responsibility extremely seriously because we recognize the AVMA Guidelines are used by everyone from veterinarians in private practice, to caretakers on farms and researchers in biomedical facilities, to law enforcement, to governmental regulators,” Leary said.

According to the AVMA, the updated guidelines contain several new additions including:

  • Euthanasia methods for invertebrates and other lower-order species;
  • Advice on humane handling of animals before and during euthanasia;
  • Information on collection of animals for scientific investigations, handling injured wild animals, and removal of animals causing property damage or threatening human safety;
  • Additional information about confirmation of death and disposal of animal remains; and
  • Flowcharts, illustrations, tables, and appendices that clarify recommendations.

Read the full 2013 edition of the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals