by S Leary · 2013 · Cited by 716 — a comprehensive review and update of the report at least every 10 years, to ensure a quick and humane death, because failure.
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AVMA GUIDELINES FOR THE EUTHANASIA OF ANIMALS: 2020 EDITION 1AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2020 Edition*Members of the Panel on Euthanasia Steven Leary, DVM, DACLAM (Chair); Fidelis Pharmaceuticals, High Ridge, Missouri Wendy Underwood, DVM (Vice Chair); Indianapolis, Indiana Raymond Anthony, PhD (Ethicist); University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska Samuel Cartner, DVM, MPH, PhD, DACLAM (Lead, Laboratory Animals Working Group); University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama Temple Grandin, PhD (Lead, Physical Methods Working Group); Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado Cheryl Greenacre, DVM, DABVP (Lead, Avian Working Group); University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, DVM, PhD, DABVT, DABT (Lead, Noninhaled Agents Working Group); Veterinary Information Network, Mahomet, Illinois Mary Ann McCrackin, DVM, PhD, DACVS, DACLAM (Lead, Companion Animals Working Group); University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia Robert Meyer, DVM, DACVAA (Lead, Inhaled Agents Working Group); Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi David Miller, DVM, PhD, DACZM, DACAW (Lead, Reptiles, Zoo and Wildlife Working Group); Loveland, Colorado Jan Shearer, DVM, MS, DACAW (Lead, Animals Farmed for Food and Fiber Working Group); Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa Tracy Turner, DVM, MS, DACVS, DACVSMR (Lead, Equine Working Group); Turner Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery, Stillwater, Minnesota Roy Yanong, VMD (Lead, Aquatics Working Group); University of Florida, Ruskin, Florida AVMA Staff Consultants Cia L. Johnson, DVM, MS, MSc; Director, Animal Welfare Division Emily Patterson-Kane, PhD; Animal Welfare Scientist, Animal Welfare Division The following individuals contributed substantively through their participation in the Panel™s Working Groups, and their assistance is sincerely appreciated. Inhaled AgentsŠScott Helms, DVM, DABVP; Lee Niel, PhD; Daniel Weary, PhD Noninhaled AgentsŠVirginia Fajt, DVM, PhD, DACVCP Physical MethodsŠRose Gillesby, DVM; Jeff Hill, PhD; Jennifer Woods, BSc AquaticsŠCraig Harms, DVM, PhD, DACZM; Nick Saint-Erne, DVM; Michael Stoskopf, DVM, PhD, DACZM AvianŠLaurel Degernes, DVM, MPH, DABVP; Laurie Hess, DVM, DABVP; Kemba Marshall, DVM, DABVP; James Morrisey, DVM, DABVP; Joanne Paul-Murphy, DVM, DACZM, DACAW Companion AnimalsŠKathleen Cooney, MS, DVM; Stacey Frick, DVM; John Mays; Rebecca Rhoades, DVM EquidsŠFair˜eld Bain, DVM, MBA, DACVIM, DACVP, DACVECC; Thomas R. Lenz, DVM, MS, DACT; Nathaniel Messer IV, DVM, DABVP; Stuart Shoemaker, DVM, DACVS Food and Fiber AnimalsŠEric Benson, PhD; C. Scanlon Daniels, DVM, MBA; John Deen, DVM, PhD, DABVP, DACAW; John Gilliam, DVM, MS, DACVIM, DABVP; Dee Grif˜n, DVM, MS; Glen Johnson, DVM; James Kober, DVM; Meghann Pierdon, VMD, DACAW; Paul Plummer, DVM, DACVIM-LA; Richard Reynnells, PhD; James Reynolds, DVM, MPVM, DACAW; Bruce Webster, PhD Laboratory AnimalsŠJames Artwhol, MS, DVM, DACLAM; Larry Carbone, DVM, PhD, DACLAM; Paul Flecknell, VetMB, MRCVS, PhD, DECVA, DECLAM, DACLAM, FRCVS; David P. Friedman, PhD; Debra Hickman, DVM, DACLAM, DACAW; Kathleen Pritchett-Corning, DVM, DACLAM, MRCVS Reptiles, Zoo and Wild AnimalsŠScott Citino, DVM, DACZM; Mark Drew, DVM, MS, DACZM; Julie Goldstein, DVM; Barry Hartup, DVM, PhD; Gregory Lewbart, MS, VMD, DACZM; Douglas Mader, MS, DVM, DABVP, FRSM; Patrick Morris, DVM, DACZM *The AVMA Panel on Euthanasia develops the content of the guidelines, with support from its working groups. The panel is required to do a comprehensive review and update of the report at least every 10 years, although more frequent major revisions are possible based on substantive information gleaned from new research and experience with practical implementation. To ensure the guidelines remain as up-to- date as possible, interim revisions (re˚ecting substantive updates, but of a less extensive nature than a major revision) are also accommodated.
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2 AVMA GUIDELINES FOR THE EUTHANASIA OF ANIMALS: 2020 EDITION Copyright © 2020 by the American Veterinary Medical Association 1931 N. Meacham Road Schaumburg, IL 60173 The AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2020 Edition (ﬁworkﬂ) is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-nc-nd/3.0/ ). You are free to share, copy, distribute, or transmit the work, provided that proper attribution to the American Veterinary Medical Association is included (but not in any way that suggests that the AVMA endorses you or your use of the work). You may not use this work for commercial purposes, including with -out limitation any sale of the work, or modify or change the work in any way, or create derivative works from it without permission of the American Veterinary Medical Association. ISBN 978-1-882691-54-8Version 2020.0.1
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AVMA GUIDELINES FOR THE EUTHANASIA OF ANIMALS: 2020 EDITION 3CONTENTSPart IŠIntroduction and General Comments I1 Preface .4I2 Historical Context and Current Edition ..4 I2.1 History of the Panel on Euthanasia ..4 I2.2 Substantive Changes Since the Last Edition ..5 I2.3 Statement of Use .5I3 What Is Euthanasia? 6 I3.1 A Good Death as a Matter of Humane Disposition .6 I3.2 A Good Death as a Matter of Humane Technique ..7I4 Euthanasia and Veterinary Medical Ethics .7I5 Evaluating Euthanasia Methods 9 I5.1 Consciousness and Unconsciousness 10 I5.2 Pain and Its Perception .11 I5.3 Stress and Distress ..12 I5.4 Animal Behavior ..13 I5.5 Human Behavior ..14 I5.6 Sedation Versus Anesthesia 15I6 Mechanisms of Euthanasia ..16I7 Con˜rmation of Death 16I8 Disposal of Animal Remains 17I9 Footnotes ..18I10 References ..18Part IIŠMethods of Euthanasia M1 Inhaled Agents .22 M1.1 Common Considerations 22 M1.2 Principles Governing Administration .23 M1.3 Inhaled Anesthetics .24 M1.4 Carbon Monoxide .26 M1.5 Nitrogen, Argon ..27 M1.6 Carbon Dioxide ..28M2 Noninhaled Agents 32 M2.1 Common Considerations ..32 M2.2 Routes of Administration ..32 M2.3 Barbituric Acid Derivatives ..33 M2.4 Pentobarbital Combinations 34 M2.5 Tributame ..34 M2.6 T-61 ..35 M2.7 Ultrapotent Opioids .35 M2.8 Dissociative Agents and ˜2-Adrenergic Receptor Agonists .35 M2.9 Potassium Chloride and Magnesium Salts ..36 M2.10 Chloral Hydrate and ˜-Chloralose .36 M2.11 Alcohols 37 M2.12 MS 222 (TMS) 37 M2.13 Benzocaine Hydrochloride 38 M2.14 Eugenol .38 M2.15 2-Phenoxyethanol ..39 M2.16 Quinaldine (2-Methylquinoline, Quinalidine Sulfate) ..39 M2.17 Metomidate 39 M2.18 Sodium Hypochlorite 39 M2.19 Formaldehyde 40 M2.20 Lidocaine Hydrochloride 40 M2.21 Unacceptable Agents 40M3 Physical Methods 40 M3.1 Common Considerations ..40 M3.2 PCB 41 M3.3 NPCB 41 M3.4 Manually Applied Blunt Force Trauma to the Head ..42 M3.5 Gunshot ..42 M3.6 Cervical Dislocation .44 M3.7 Decapitation .44 M3.8 Electrocution ..45 M3.9 Kill Traps 46 M3.10 Maceration ..47 M3.11 Focused Beam Microwave Irradiation .47 M3.12 Thoracic (Cardiopulmonary, Cardiac) Compression .47 M3.13 Adjunctive Methods ..48M4 Footnotes .48M5 References ..48Part IIIŠMethods of Euthanasia by Species and Environment S1 Companion Animals 56 S1.1 General Considerations 56 S1.2 Acceptable Methods ..57 S1.3 Acceptable With Conditions Methods ..57 S1.4 Adjunctive Methods 58 S1.5 Unacceptable Methods .58 S1.6 Special Considerations .58 S1.7 Fetuses and Neonates 59 S1.8 Euthanasia in Speci˜c Environments 59S2 Laboratory Animals .60 S2.1 General Considerations 60 S2.2 Small Laboratory and Wild-Caught Rodents (Mice, Rats, Hamsters, Guinea Pigs, Gerbils, Degus, Cotton Rats, etc) 60 S2.3 Laboratory Farm Animals, Dogs, Cats, Ferrets, and Nonhuman Primates 62 S2.4 Laboratory Rabbits .63 S2.5 Laboratory Fish, Amphibians, and Reptiles .64S3 Animals Farmed for Food and Fiber 64 S3.1 General Considerations 64 S3.2 Bovids and Small Ruminants .65 S3.3 Swine .72 S3.4 Poultry ..76S4 Equids .78 S4.1 General Considerations 78 S4.2 Methods 78 S4.3 Special Cases and Exceptions ..79S5 Avians .79 S5.1 General Considerations 79 S5.2 Methods 80 S5.3 Eggs, Embryos, and Neonates ..82S6 Fish and Aquatic Invertebrates .82 S6.1 General Considerations 82 S6.2 Fin˜sh 83 S6.3 Aquatic Invertebrates 89S7 Zoologic and Free-Ranging Nondomestic Animals .90 S7.1 General Considerations 90 S7.2 Captive Invertebrates 91 S7.3 Captive Amphibians and Reptiles ..92 S7.4 Captive Nonmarine Mammals ..94 S7.5 Captive Marine Mammals 96 S7.6 Free-Ranging Wildlife 97 S7.7 Free-Ranging Marine Mammals 99S8 Footnotes 100 S9 References .100 Glossary .110 Appendices .111
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4 AVMA GUIDELINES FOR THE EUTHANASIA OF ANIMALS: 2020 EDITION Part IŠIntroduction and General Comments I1 Preface Animal issues are no longer socially invisible, and increasingly, greater attention is being devoted to understanding the moral signi˜cance of experi -ences of animals and to taking into consideration the welfare of animals. During the past half-century, ef -forts to ensure the respectful and humane treatment of animals have garnered global attention. 1,2 Concern for the welfare of animals is re˚ected in the growth of animal welfare science and ethics. The former is evident in the emergence of academic programs, es -tablishment of specialty colleges, implementation of curricular changes in veterinary colleges, prolifera -tion of scienti˜c journal articles, and development of funding streams committed either partially or exclu -sively to the study of how animals are impacted by various environments and human interventions. The latter has seen the application of numerous ethical approaches (eg, rights-based theories, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, contractarianism, pragmatic ethics) to assessing the moral value of animals and the nature of the human-animal relationship. 1,3Œ9 The proliferation of interest in animal use and care, at the national and international levels, is also apparent in recent protec -tions accorded to animals in new and amended laws and regulations, institutional and corporate policies, and purchasing and trade agreements. Changing so -cietal attitudes toward animal care and use have in -spired scrutiny of some traditional and contemporary practices applied in the management of animals used for agriculture, research and teaching, companion -ship, and recreation or entertainment and of animals encountered in the wild. Attention has also been fo -cused on conservation and the impact of human in -terventions on terrestrial and aquatic wildlife and the environment. Within these contexts, veterinarians provide leadership on how to care well for animals, including how to relieve unnecessary pain and suf -fering. In creating the 2020 and 2013 edition of the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals (Guide -lines), the POE made every effort to identify and ap -ply the best research and empirical information avail -able. As new research is conducted and more practi -cal experience gained, recommended methods of eu -thanasia may change. As such, the AVMA and its POE have made a commitment to ensure the Guidelines re˚ect an expectation and paradigm of continuous improvement that is consistent with the obligations of the Veterinarian™s Oath. 10 As for other editions of the document, modi˜cations of previous recommen -dations are also informed by continued professional and public sensitivity to the ethical care of animals. While some euthanasia methods may be utilized in slaughter (which refers to humane killing of ani -mals destined for human consumption) or harvest and depopulation, recommendations related to hu -mane slaughter and depopulation fall outside the pur -view of the Guidelines and are addressed by separate documents. The Guidelines set criteria for euthanasia, spec -ify appropriate euthanasia methods and agents, and are intended to assist veterinarians in their exercise of professional judgment. The Guidelines acknowl -edge that euthanasia is a process involving more than just what happens to an animal at the time of its death. Apart from delineating appropriate meth -ods and agents, these Guidelines also recognize the importance of considering and applying appropriate pre-euthanasia (eg, sedation) and animal handling practices, as well as attention to disposal of animals™ remains. I2 Historical Context and Current Edition I2.1 HISTORY OF THE PANEL ON EUTHANASIA Since 1963 the AVMA has convened a POE to eval -uate methods and potential methods of euthanasia for the purpose of creating guidelines for veterinarians who carry out or oversee the euthanasia of animals. The scope of the 1963 edition was limited to meth -ods and recommendations applicable to dogs, cats, and other small mammals. Subsequent editions pub -lished in 1972 and 1978 encompassed more methods and species (laboratory animals and food animals, respectively), and included additional information about animals™ physiologic and behavioral responses to euthanasia (speci˜cally, pain, stress, and distress), euthanasia™s effects on observers, and the economic feasibility and environmental impacts of various ap -proaches. In 1986 information on poikilothermic, aquatic, and fur-bearing wildlife was introduced; in 1993 recommendations for horses and wildlife were ABBREVIATIONS ASIC Acid-sensing ion channelCAS Controlled atmospheric stunning DEA Drug Enforcement Agency EEG Electroencephalogram or electroencephalographic EPA Environmental Protection Agency HPA Hypothalamic-pituitary axis IACUC Institutional animal care and use committee MS 222 Tricaine methanesulfonate NPCB Nonpenetrating captive bolt PCB Penetrating captive bolt POE Panel on EuthanasiaSNS Sympathetic nervous system
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AVMA GUIDELINES FOR THE EUTHANASIA OF ANIMALS: 2020 EDITION 5added; and in 2000 an update acknowledged a need for more research on approaches suitable for depopu -lation. An interim revision by the AVMA Animal Wel -fare Committee in 2007 incorporated information derived from an existing, but separate, AVMA policy on the use of maceration to euthanize day-old chicks, poults, and pipped eggs, and the name of the report was changed to the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia. In 2013 the process for compiling the POE™s report was substantially changed to include more breadth and depth of expertise in the affected spe -cies and environments in which euthana sia is per -formed. More than 3 years of deliberation by more than 60 individuals, including veterinarians, an imal scientists, behaviorists, psychologists, and an an imal ethicist, resulted in robust commentary and recom -mendations. A comment period allowed AVMA mem -bers an opportunity to provide input and share their experiences directly with POE members. The 2020 iteration of the Guidelines constitutes the ninth edition of the POE™s report. The process for compiling this edition was similar to that of the 2013 edition. Two years of review, discussion, and revision by the POE culminated in this edition. A comment period was held and the input from AVMA members helps ensure the resulting document is not only sci -enti˜cally robust, but practically sound. I2.2 SUBSTANTIVE CHANGES SINCE THE LAST EDITION In this interim update of the Guidelines, meth -ods, techniques, and agents of euthanasia have been updated and de tailed descriptions have been includ -ed to assist veter inarians in applying their profession -al judgment. Spe cies-speci˜c sections have been ex -panded or added to include more guidance for terres -trial and aquatic species kept for a variety of purposes and under dif ferent conditions. Where possible, ap -propriate ˚owcharts, illustrations, tables, and appen -dices have been used to clarify rec ommendations. Appendices 1 and 2 may be useful as a quick refer -ence guide, but should never be used in lieu of the full text of the document by those perform ing eutha -nasia. All illustrations and ˜gures have been moved to Appendix 3 of the document. Some of the more signi˜cant changes are as fol -lows: Ł Language was added to clarify the distinction be -tween sedation and anesthesia. Speci˜cally, ani -mals under sedation may be aroused to a conscious state with suf˜cient stimulation. Recognizing this is critical when categorizing the effects of agents and distinguishing even deep states of sedation from unconsciousness. Ł The conditions for the use of CO 2 with rodents in the laboratory have changed from a recommended 10% to 30% of the chamber or cage volume/min to a recommended 30% to 70% of the chamber or cage volume/min. The extensive literature used to make this recommendation is cited and the AVMA appreciates the proactive efforts made by the in -ternational research community to provide the evidence needed to make this determination. Ł Euthanasia techniques appropriate for use with rabbits raised for meat are categorized and de -scribed. This material is located in the Laboratory Animals section to place them with other tech -niques used with these species. Ł The Animals Farmed for Food and Fiber section has been expanded to include American bison, wa -ter buffalo, camelids, and cervids. Updates to the application of captive bolt in several species have been made and new illustrations are available to assist veterinarians in proper usage. Ł In the Avians section the recommendation for when avian embryos achieve the potential for per -ception has been amended from 50% to 80% of in -cubation for all avian eggs. This recommendation should be applied across avians with consideration for species-speci˜c differences in development and using the best available data. I2.3 STATEMENT OF USE The Guidelines are designed for use by members of the veterinary profession who carry out or oversee the euthanasia of animals. As such, they are intended to apply only to nonhuman species. The species addressed by the practice of vet -erinary medicine are diverse. A veterinarian experi -enced with the species of interest should be consult -ed when choosing a method of euthanasia, particular -ly when little species-speci˜c research on euthanasia has been conducted. Methods and agents selected will often be situation speci˜c, as a means of mini -mizing potential risks to the animal™s welfare and personnel safety. Given the complexity of issues that euthanasia presents, references on anatomy, physiol -ogy, natural history, husbandry, and other disciplines may assist in understanding how various methods may impact an animal during the euthanasia process. Veterinarians performing or overseeing eutha -nasia must assess the potential for animal distress due to physical discomfort, abnormal social settings, novel physical surroundings, pheromones or odors from nearby or previously euthanized animals, the presence of humans, or other factors (including im -pact on the environment and other animals). In ad -dition, human safety and perceptions, availability of trained personnel, potential infectious disease concerns, conservation or other animal population objectives, regulatory oversight that may be species speci˜c, available equipment and facilities, options for disposal, potential secondary toxicity, and other factors must be considered. Human safety is of ut -most importance, and appropriate safety equipment, protocols, and knowledge must be available before animals are handled. Advance preparation includes protocols and supplies for addressing personnel in -jury due to animal handling or exposure to drugs and equipment used during the process. Once eutha –
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6 AVMA GUIDELINES FOR THE EUTHANASIA OF ANIMALS: 2020 EDITION nasia has been carried out, death must be carefully veri˜ed. All laws and regulations pertaining to the species being euthanized, the methods employed, and the disposal of the animal™s remains and/or any water containing pharmaceuticals used for euthana -sia must be followed. The POE™s objective in creating the Guidelines is to provide guidance for veterinarians about how to prevent and/or relieve the pain and suffering of ani -mals that are to be euthanized. While every effort has been made to identify and recommend appropriate approaches for common species encountered under common conditions, the POE recognized there will be less than perfect situations in which a recommend -ed method of euthanasia may not be possible and a method or agent that is best under the circumstances will need to be applied. For this reason, although the Guidelines may be interpreted and understood by a broad segment of the general population, a veterinar -ian should be consulted in their application. I3 What Is Euthanasia? Euthanasia is derived from the Greek terms eu meaning good and thanatos meaning death. The term is usually used to describe ending the life of an individual animal in a way that minimizes or elimi -nates pain and distress. A good death is tantamount to the humane termination of an animal™s life. In the context of these Guidelines, the veteri -narian™s prima facie duty in carrying out euthanasia includes, but is not limited to, (1) their humane dis -position to induce death in a manner that is in accord with an animal™s interest and/or because it is a matter of welfare, and (2) the use of humane techniques to induce the most rapid and painless and distress-free death possible. These conditions, while separate, are not mutually exclusive and are codependent. Debate exists about whether euthanasia appro -priately describes the killing of some animals at the end of biological experiments 11 and of unwanted shel -ter animals. The Panel believes that evaluating the so -cial acceptability of various uses of animals and/or the rationale for inducing death in these cases is beyond its purview; however, current AVMA policy supports the use of animals for various human purposes, 12 and also recognizes the need to euthanize animals that are unwanted or un˜t for adoption. 13 Whenever ani -mals are used by humans, good animal care practices should be implemented and adherence to those good practices should be enforced. When evaluating our responsibilities toward animals, it is important to be sensitive to the context and the practical realities of the various types of human-animal relationships. Impacts on animals may not always be the center of the valuation process, and there is disagreement on how to account for con˚icting interspeci˜c interests. The Panel recognizes these are complex issues since how to bring about a ﬁgood deathﬂ for animals is re -garded as ﬁessentially contestedﬂ (morally and con -ceptually), 14 raising concerns across a large number of domains, including scienti˜c, ethical, economic, environmental, political, and social. I3.1 A GOOD DEATH AS A MATTER OF HUMANE DISPOSITION Humane disposition re˚ects the veterinarian™s desire to do what is best for the animal and serves to bring about the best possible outcome for the animal. Thus, euthanasia as a matter of humane disposition can be either intent or outcome based. Euthanasia as a matter of humane disposition oc -curs when death is a welcome event and continued existence is not an attractive option for the animal as perceived by the owner and veterinarian. When animals are plagued by disease that produces insur -mountable suffering, it can be argued that continuing to live is worse for the animal than death or that the animal no longer has an interest in living. The hu -mane disposition is to act for the sake of the animal or its interests, because the animal will not be harmed by the loss of life. Instead, there is consensus that the animal will be relieved of an unbearable burden. As an example, when treating a companion animal that is suffering severely at the end of life due to a debilitating terminal illness, a veterinarian may rec -ommend euthanasia, because the loss of life (and at -tendant natural decline in physical and psychological faculties) to the animal is not relatively worse com -pared with a continued existence that is ˜lled with prolonged illness, suffering, and duress. In this case, euthanasia does not deprive the animal of the oppor -tunity to enjoy more goods of life (ie, to have more satisfactions ful˜lled or enjoy more pleasurable expe -riences). And, these opportunities or experiences are much fewer or lesser in intensity than the presence or intensity of negative states or affect. Death, in this case, may be a welcome event and euthanasia helps to bring this about, because the animal™s life is not worth living but, rather, is worth avoiding. Veterinarians may also be motivated to bring about the best outcome for the animal. Often, veteri -narians face the dif˜cult question of trying to decide (or helping the animal™s owner to decide) when eu -thanasia would be a good outcome. In making this de -cision many veterinarians appeal to indices of welfare or quality of life. Scientists have described welfare as having 3 components: that the animal functions well, feels well, and has the capacity to perform behaviors that are innate or species-speci˜c adaptations 15Œ17 (an alternative view is also available 18). An animal has good welfare if, overall, its life has positive value for it. When an animal no longer continues to enjoy good welfare (when it no longer has a life worth living be -cause, on balance, its life no longer has positive value for it, or will shortly be overcome by negative states), the humane thing to do is to give it a good death. Eu -thanasia relieves the animal™s suffering, which is the desired outcome.
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8 AVMA GUIDELINES FOR THE EUTHANASIA OF ANIMALS: 2020 EDITION and the method(s) used. This is also true for euthana -sia carried out during the course of disease control or protection of public health, as a means of domestic or wild animal population control, in conjunction with animal use in biomedical research, and in the pro -cess of food and ˜ber production. Killing of healthy animals under such circumstances, while unpleasant and morally challenging, is a practical necessity. The AVMA recognizes such actions as acceptable if those carrying out euthanasia adhere to strict policies, guidelines, and applicable regulations. In thinking seriously about veterinary medical ethics, veterinarians should familiarize themselves with the plurality of public moral views surround -ing animal issues and also be cognizant of personal views and complicating factors that may impact their own ethical decision-making. While the Veterinari -an™s Oath, 10 Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics of the AVMA, 29 state veterinary practice acts, and other guidance emanating from veterinary professional or -ganizations and regulatory bodies provide direction for how veterinarians should interact with clients and their animals, different veterinarians may have differ -ent personal ethical values 1,30 and this may impact their recommendations. In their capacity as animal advocate and client advisor, the precision and credibility of advice provid -ed by veterinarians will help to advance client com -pliance. In many instances when veterinarians are called upon to bene˜t society through their scienti˜c knowledge, practical experience, and understanding of how animals are bene˜ted and harmed, straightfor -ward answers may not be forthcoming. In such cases, veterinarians and animal welfare scientists may have to facilitate conscientious decision-making by pro -moting ethical dialogue. 31Œ34 As advisor and conduit for information (and while respecting the autonomy of their clients to make decisions on behalf of their animals), veterinarians should advance pertinent scienti˜c knowledge and ethical concerns related to practices and procedures so that their clients and/or society can make informed decisions. 1Veterinarians who are committed to a broad un -derstanding of the ﬁdo no harmﬂ principle may have to determine whether an animal™s life is worth liv -ing, especially when there is no consensus on when it is appropriate to let that life go. While welfare or quality of life is typically adopted as part of the as -sessment of an animal™s interests, what is in an ani -mal™s interest need not be singularly identi˜ed with its welfare, especially if welfare is de˜ned narrowly and if the animal is harmed more by its continued life than its death. For example, if welfare is de˜ned solely in terms of an animal™s subjective experience, euthanasia may be warranted even if the animal is not showing signs of suffering at the present time and if there is some commitment to avoid harm. Euthanasia may be considered to be the right course to spare the animal from what is to come (in conjunction with a more holistic or objective account of what is in an animal™s interest), if medical intervention would only prolong a terminal condition, or if current health conditions cannot be successfully mitigated. In these instances, intentional killing need not be motivated by narrow welfare-based interests 35 but may be con -nected to the overall value of death to the animal. That some animals are subjects-of-a-life, 36Œ39 and that human caretakers have moral responsibilities to their animals and do not want to see them endure contin -ued harm, 40,41 may be factors in deciding whether death is in an animal™s interest. (A subject-of-a-life is a being that is regarded as having inherent value and should not be treated as a mere means to an end. It is a being that possesses an internal existence and has needs, desires, preferences, and a psychosocial iden -tity that extends through time. 3,6 )In some cases (eg, animals used for research), in -tentional killing of the animal to minimize harm to it may be trumped by more pressing ends. Here, the decision to kill an animal and how to do so will be complicated by external factors, such as productivity, the greater public and general good, economics, and concern for other animals. In human-animal relation -ships there usually are other mitigating factors that are relevant besides ones pertaining only to animal welfare or the animal™s interest(s). In laboratory situ -ations, for example, where animals are employed as research subjects and death may be a terminal point, animal welfare considerations are balanced against the merits of the experimental design and merits of the research. In such cases, ensuring the respectful and humane treatment of research animals will be largely up to IACUCs. These committees must apply the principles of re˜nement, replacement, and re -duction, and ensure a respectful death for research animals. The decision to induce death may also in -volve whether replacements can be created for the animals that are killed. 42,43 These other factors might justify killing an animal, despite the fact that the ani -mal might otherwise have had a life worth living. For example, killing may be justi˜ed for disease control or public health purposes, population control, bio -medical research, or slaughter for food and/or ˜ber. In other instances, keeping an animal alive that does not have a life worth living can be justi˜ed (eg, re -search circumstances where it would be impractical to kill the animal or when ensuring its survival would promote a greater good 19).There may be instances in which the decision to kill an animal is questionable, especially if the ani -mal is predicted to have a life worth living if it is not killed. One example is the healthy companion animal whose owner wants to euthanize it because keeping it in the home is no longer possible or convenient. In this case, the veterinarian, as advisor and animal advocate, should be able to speak frankly about the animal™s condition and suggest alternatives to eutha -nasia. Prima facie, it is the ethical responsibility of vet -erinarians to direct animal owners toward euthanasia
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