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Responsible Pet Ownership

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s Executive Board recently approved new guidelines for responsible pet ownership. Here they are in their entirety. Feel free to post them anywhere you think a prospective pet owner might run into them.


Owning a pet is a privilege and should result in a mutually beneficial relationship. However, the benefits of pet ownership come with obligations. Responsible pet ownership includes:

  • Committing to the relationship for the life of the pet(s).
  • Avoiding impulsive decisions about obtaining pet(s), and carefully selecting pet(s) suited to your home and lifestyle.
  • Recognizing that ownership of pet(s) requires an investment of time and money.
  • Keeping only the type and number of pets for which an appropriate and safe environment can be provided, including appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.
  • Ensuring pets are properly identified (i.e., tags, microchips, or tattoos) and that registration information in associated databases is kept up-to-date
  • Adherence to local ordinances, including licensing and leash requirements.
  • Controlling pet(s’) reproduction through managed breeding, containment, or spay/neuter, thereby helping to address animal control and overpopulation problems.
  • Establishing and maintaining a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.
  • Providing preventive (e.g., vaccinations, parasite control) and therapeutic health care for the life of pet(s) in consultation with, and as recommended by, its veterinarian.
  • Socialization and appropriate training for pet(s), which facilitates their well-being and the well-being of other animals and people.
  • Preventing pet(s) from negatively impacting other people, animals and the environment, including proper waste disposal, noise control, and not allowing pet(s) to stray or become feral.
  • Providing exercise and mental stimulation appropriate to the pet(s’) age, breed and health status.
  • Advance preparation to ensure the pet(s’) well-being in the case of an emergency or disaster, including assembling an evacuation kit.
  • Making alternative arrangements if caring for the pet is no longer possible.
  • Recognizing declines in the pet(s’) quality of life and making decisions in consultation with a veterinarian regarding appropriate end-of-life care (e.g., palliative care, hospice, euthanasia).

AVMA Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership

Oversight CHAB; EB approved 11/2011

(Source:  Jennifer Coates, DVM, Fully Vetted)

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January 8, 2012 - Posted by | Animal Welfare/Protection, Cat Care, Dogs, Newsletters about Cats, Newsletters about Dogs, Pet overpopulation | , , ,

2 Comments

  1. Most of these guidelines are fairly broad, which is good. I am sick of seeing guidelines that tell me that desexing is ‘responsible’, and that not annually vaccinating is ‘irresponsible’. These guidelines are a little less specific, which is good for allowing some leeway for personal choice.
    However, I think that it’s quite okay to rehome your animal if you need to. It may be to your benefit or may be to the animal’s benefit to be in a new home. There is dumping your animal at a shelter (irresponsible-ish) and finding a suitable new home for your animal (responsible). I don’t think rehoming is as bad as people make it out to be.

    Comment by Tegan Whalan (@MacDogald) | January 14, 2012

  2. Those are wonderful guidelines. I hope people with pets read and follow them.

    Comment by Doctor Vet (@YayPets) | January 10, 2012


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