Veterinarian's Oath Revised for the Welfare of PetsPublished December 13, 2010
The oath of the veterinarian has been revised.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) revised the oath for the veterinarian last week, adding the word "welfare." The new oath now 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, [and] the prevention and relief of animal suffering."
Animal welfare focuses on physical, emotional and psychological well-being.
As far as I am concerned, the AVMA's revised oath carries the implication that the "welfare" of animals is crucial. To that end, John R. Brooks, AVMA Executive Board Chair issued the statement, "The message is we as the AVMA, and veterinarians in general, do recognize that protecting animal well-being is what we're all about."
Chairman-elect of the AVMA's Animal Welfare Commission, Dr. J. Bruce Nixon said, "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."
This too, makes me wonder if the AVMA will be able to keep treading lightly on its stance on the unnecessary declawing of cats by continuing to suggest that the procedure be done only as a last resort.
As of April 2009 the AVMA recommends that the procedure only be performed after exhausting other methods of controlling scratching behavior or if it has been determined that the cat's claws present a human health risk.
Will the organization redefine this recommendation since many cats end up being surrendered to shelters by the very people who had them declawed to preserve their property? According to the Paw Project, a survey conducted by a Delaware animal shelter revealed that 75% of cats there were surrendered due to problematic behavior that occurred after declawing such as biting (as defensive behavior), and urinating and defecating outside the litter box (presumably due to paw sensitivity).
Will individual feline welfare come first?
For instance, declawing is not performed in the United Kingdom unless it is carried out for therapeutic purposes. Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals prohibits declawing for "non-curative purposes," but exceptions are permitted if the veterinarian considers the procedure "necessary for veterinary medical reasons or for the benefit of any particular animal."
That's a little more in line with "animal welfare" if you ask me.
What do you think? Should declawing be re-thought? Are there any other veterinarian policies you hope will be affected?