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  PVMA Position Statements
Definition of a Pet
Approved by the Board of Trustees on August 11, 2005

Pet shall mean:
A domesticated animal that has been bought, bred, raised or otherwise acquired and maintained in accordance with local, state and federal laws for the primary purpose of providing companionship and/or enjoyment to the owner. The owner must show that the animal has received adequate care including, but not limited to: food, shelter, space, water, light, ventilation, sanitation, exercise, and veterinary care as required to prevent illnesses and maintain the health of the animal; thus illustrating that the owner manifests a clear concern for the animal’s health, safety, and welfare.

Companionship and/or enjoyment includes substantial evidence of an existing “human-animal bond” with the owner. To establish the existence of this “human-animal bond,” the owner must demonstrate a strong and continuous relationship between the owner and the animal, including, but not limited to, most of the following criteria:
  • A name that has been consistently used and known to those in regular contact with the animal;
  • Clear and convincing evidence of regular contact and interaction with the owner appropriate for the species;
  • A consistent showing of a positive emotional attachment to the animal;
  • Service and/or assistance to a human with the day-to-day requirements of independent living;
  • and/orActivities and efforts that demonstrate a unique personal attachment to the animal.
For the purposes hereof, Pet shall not include animals used for the sole purpose of food, fiber, agriculture, biomedical production, research, teaching, or testing; or in a for-profit venture; wildlife as defined by any state or federal statute; or animals used in activities regulated by the federal Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. 2131 to 2159).

Position Statement on Owner vs. Guardian
Approved by the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association on March 9, 2005

The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association is dedicated to the advancement of animal welfare and the human-animal bond. We support the current legal standing of animals as the property of their owners. We oppose the use of the term “guardian” to describe these parties. Guardian is a well-defined legal term that is not appropriate in describing the relationship between owners and their animals. We believe such a change could ultimately lead to excessive interference by third parties or governmental officials who impose their views on responsible animal owners. We believe that such interference with traditional property rights will impair the ability of animal shelters and humane associations to function effectively with available financial and human resources. The traditional ownership relationship confers property rights on owners that ensure their personal control over appropriate financial and medical decisions regarding the well-being of their animals. Lastly, the current status of animals is critical to allow the legal imposition of measures for control of infectious diseases to protect the public health and safety. Therefore, we believe a change in terms from “owner” to “guardian” would ultimately have a negative effect on animal welfare, animal care givers, and on society.

Position Statement on Pets as Property
Approved by the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Associationon March 9, 2005

The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) is dedicated to the advancement of animal welfare and we feel very strongly that animals are not property in the same way that tables, lamps, or cars are property. We further believe that owners should be allowed to prove that pet animals have economic values above their purchase price or fair market value. Because of current common law precedents, legislative changes most likely will be necessary to allow for expansion of these economic values. We further believe that an appropriate definition of a pet must be developed prior to any changes or expansions in the laws on damages for pet loss. In our search of PA law and the laws of other states, we have been unable to find an adequate definition for a “pet” or “companion animal” that would allow us to reach a consensus on the subject of pets as property. PVMA is developing a definition and welcomes comments from all interested parties.

Position Statement on Non-Economic Damages
Approved by the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association on March 9, 2005

The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association is dedicated to the advancement of animal welfare. We support the resolution drafted by the Council of State Governments and adopted by their governing board in September 2004. We do not support any legislation that would elevate the rights of animals above the rights of people.

Endorsement and Expansion of the AAEP Position Statement on Therapeutic Medications in Non-Racing Performance Horses
Approved by the Board of Trustees, Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association January 27, 2007

The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) endorses and expands the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ (AAEP) Position Statement on Therapeutic Medications in Non-Racing Performance Horses (2002). Three specific areas of emphasis modify the position statement and make it more applicable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The intent is to make the statement applicable to a wider population of equines, veterinary practitioners, and the participants in equine activities.
  1. All equines in all aspects of interaction with humans are included in our Association’s interpretation of ethical use of therapeutic medications. Established guidelines would apply to competition and performance horses as well as to privately-owned animals stabled in a home barn or used for lesson, recreational or any other purposes.
  2. All licensed veterinary practitioners, regardless of membership affiliation or species orientation, are strongly encouraged to promote the ethical and professional guidelines set forth in the position statement.
  3. A veterinary-client-patient relationship, as defined in the Veterinary Medicine Practice Act of December 2002, shall exist before any prescription or off-label medication is administered or dispensed for any purpose. The health and safety of the patient and any persons in contact with the patient are priority concerns.
The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) strives to educate the public and the veterinary profession on this important issue and supports the development of laws and regulations to enhance application of the principles in this position statement.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners’ (AAEP) position on therapeutic medications in non-racing performance horses, which reads as follows:

American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Position Statementon Therapeutic Medications in Non-Racing Performance Horses
The AAEP policy on medication in non-racing performance horses is driven by our mission to improve the health and welfare of the horse. It is aimed at providing the best health care possible for horses competing under the current rules in various disciplines while ensuring the integrity of the sport. The AAEP expects its members to abide by the rules of all jurisdictions where they practice. The AAEP condemns the administration of non-therapeutic or unprescribed medications to performance horses by anyone. The AAEP believes that all therapeutic medication should be administered to performance horses by or under the direction of a licensed veterinarian. Health care decisions on individual horses involve the veterinarian, the trainer and the owner with the best interests of the horse as the primary objective.

The AAEP strongly encourages continued research in determining the therapeutic levels and appropriate withdrawal times that represent responsible use of medication in the competing horse. The AAEP is aware of the dynamics of the development of new products, as well as the continuing evaluation of current medications, and will continue to evaluate its policy based upon available scientific research and the best interests of the horse.

In order to provide the best health care possible for the performance horse, veterinarians should utilize the most appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic modalities in accordance with medication guidelines of the sport. To this end, the following are the essential elements of the AAEP policy concerning veterinary care of the performance horse:
  • It is recognized that various performance horse disciplines have differing regulations concerning medication guidelines. The AAEP urges members to abide by these regulations and to work with the governing bodies to develop and enforce such regulations. The establishment of guidelines backed by testing procedures with strict quality controls should be the goal to protect the well being of the horse and the integrity of the sport
  • The AAEP encourages proactive and constructive communication between regulatory bodies, practicing veterinarians and other industry stakeholders. The AAEP offers its expertise to all performance horse organizations for assistance in establishing medication guidelines for their respective disciplines.
  • The use of medications for the purpose of stimulating, depressing or numbing a horse at the time of competition should be forbidden. It is recognized that some governing bodies allow for the emergency use of local anesthetics for strictly medical purposes within the normal withdrawal time for such agents. Such procedures must be very closely controlled.
  • Products present in a horse at the time of performance that have been proven to interfere with accurate and effective post-performance testing should be strictly forbidden.
  • The AAEP endorses the use of quality-controlled testing procedures by all performance horse organizations. Detection of pharmacologically insignificant levels of therapeutic medications should not constitute a violation of medication rules.
  • Governing organizations have developed guidelines for the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents in their sports. It is the opinion of the AAEP that the use of multiple NSAID agents is not in the best interest of the health and welfare of the horse. Performance horse governing bodies are encouraged to regularly reevaluate their regulations in light of this recommendation.
  • The AAEP believes that all veterinarians should follow a judicious, prudent and ethical decision-making process.The AAEP endorses increased surveillance and enforcement of the above-mentioned regulations.