Revised Veterinarian Oath Recognizes Animal Welfare

Some serious good news for animals this holiday season: we’ve made a little bit of progress on behalf of animals in the United States.  The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) last week announced the addition of the words “animal welfare” in the oath taken by new veterinarian graduates.

The concept of animal welfare is not new, but recognition by an organization that represents U.S. veterinarians is a huge step forward for animals.  The revised oath is as follows with the additions in italics:

“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, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.  I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.  I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.”

Animal welfare can be defined as not just the physical but the mental well-being of non-humans.  Concern for a creature’s psychological well-being implies recognition that an animal is a sentient being with feelings of pain, pleasure, joy, sadness, fear — all emotions.  Before the 19th century, the idea of animals having emotions wasn’t considered very much. 

The semantics may seem minor but the implication is major.  AVMA Executive Board Chair, John R. Brooks issued a 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,” Brooks says.

From today forward

Dr. J. Bruce Nixon, chairman-elect of the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Commission 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.”

Change is an inevitable part of human existence.  While it often comes at a pace slightly faster than the state of inertia, the revised oath is a beginning for animal welfare advocates.


Flickr: Cammy/Claudia


Krishna S.
Krishna S.5 years ago

u r correct karena

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle7 years ago

It's way past time that "animal welfare" should be part, and primary, in a vet's oath.

Karena M.
Doreen Gonzales7 years ago

Poor sad kitty had an abcess, the vet wanted $850! I cried, was charged $150 for the visit that included very brief exam and recommendations for everything but caring for the abcess, and was charged $40 for a 1/2 oz. of human amoxicillin bubblegum flavored, and took my poor kitty home. Next morning Kitty went out on the porch & lanced his own abcess like a pro. No, the vet shouldn't have to do everything on credit, but they really should shut their yap about extras that are beyond what the animal is there for.

gerlinde p.
gerlinde p7 years ago

thanks for the article.

Simone B.
.7 years ago

Does that mean the ones assigned to checking on the animals in Ringlings Circus will actually discover what we all know? And deal with the issue accordingly? Oh good.

Alice H.
Alice Hendry7 years ago

Sadly vets will not abide by any part of their oath and AVMA knows that. Tana I am sorry about Damien and Kimberly I know how you feel. An animal hospital would not give shelter to a dog that a car had hit. It lay in torrential rain for 1-1/2 hours in the back of the truck the man who brought in had. It took that time for the spca to come. Since then a dog, and a cat bled to death because the same hospital would not see them because they were not patients of theirs. I myself and others have taken our animals to up to 6 vets but they could not diagnoze simple problems. One of them suggested euthanization for my cat but luckily a vet did a entropy and the cat lived another 8 years. Their oath is similar to our legislators laws and bills they are never enforced. Veterinary Boards support all their errors and so do your legislators.

Nita Smith
Nita Smith7 years ago

Yes things do change very slowly in the case of animals especially, but let's hope this small change is implemented. We want at least 80,000 people wanting change for animals and then things will snowball quickly........this is the tipping point apparently.

Rebecca Odle
Rebecca Noiseux7 years ago

At least with animal welfare, the animals won't be draining the pockets of the taxpayers. They need the protection.

Tana Williams
Tana Williams7 years ago

ALL vets are in it for the money. My goofy Damien died at my feet 2 days before Christmas because none of the 8 vets I called would operate without getting at least $750 in advance. No payment plans, nothing.

Priscilla G.
Priscilla G7 years ago

This is a good step for the animals lets hope the Vets abide by their Oath