Position Statements


MVMA Position Statements on Current Issues Impacting Animals and Veterinary Medicine

Below are MVMA’s Position Statements. Please note that no position statement of MVMA shall be construed as support or opposition to any particular piece of legislation or administrative rule.

Position Statement on Animal Abuse and Animal Neglect

Animal abuse ranges from minor neglect to willful and malicious intent to harm. Animal abuse is often an indicator of other forms of violence and studies have shown that there is a correlation between animal and human abuse. While neglectful acts may be unintentional and related to ignorance or lack of education, intentional forms of animal abuse cannot be tolerated.

Since veterinarians have a responsibility to both animals and the public, and may be the first contact with an abused animal, they should take an active role in detecting, recognizing, preventing, and reporting animal abuse.

The veterinary profession should educate its members to recognize, document and report animal abuse, develop forensic models, discuss legislation concerning reporting by veterinarians, and collaborate with other animal and human welfare groups and professionals within communities to eliminate animal abuse.

Position Statement on Animal Acupuncture

The treatment of nonhuman animals by acupuncture is the practice of veterinary medicine. Veterinary acupuncture should be performed only by licensed veterinarians who have received training in this modality.

Position Statement on Animal Chiropractic Therapy

The examination, diagnosis and treatment of nonhuman animals by chiropractic therapy is the practice of veterinary medicine. Manipulation should be performed only by licensed veterinarians or licensed chiropractors working under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

Principles on the Use of Animals in Education and Research

The MVMA recognizes that veterinarians have a commitment not only to animal health and welfare, but also to the promotion of public health and advancement of medical knowledge. The MVMA supports the humane and responsible use of animals in education, research, and outreach. Furthermore, the MVMA supports the policies and procedures used by institutional animal use and care committees to assure animals are used judiciously and treated humanely.

The MVMA supports the practical application of the “Three Rs” in research as guiding principles for more ethical use of animals in testing. These were first described by W.M.S. Russell and R.L. Burch. The Three Rs are:

  1. Replacement of animals in research whenever possible
  2. Reduction of the number of animals used in research
  3. Refinement of research protocols to minimize pain and distress, as well as to maximize the welfare of such animals used in research.

The MVMA supports strict enforcement of the regulations addressing the use of animals in education, research and outreach, and encourages adequate funding for enforcement of regulations. Furthermore, the MVMA promotes the continued review and modification of these regulations.

Position Statement on Animal Fighting

The MVMA condemns animal fighting as defined by Michigan law. MVMA supports strict enforcement of animal fighting laws at the felony level. The MVMA encourages veterinarians to recognize the signs of animal fighting and to assist with enforcement and education. When signs of animal fighting exist, MVMA encourages veterinarians to contact the appropriate authorities.

Position Statement on Animal Sentience

The MVMA supports the concept of animals as sentient beings. Animals are conscious and have the ability to feel, perceive and have subjective experiences. The evidence of sentience is supported by biological, medical, behavioral, evolutionary and welfare science. Daily and long term management, husbandry and veterinary care should not only provide for the animals physical needs, but also minimize pain, distress, and suffering. Caretakers should also consider the animal’s social and behavioral needs, and recognize that animals generate responses to external stimuli or triggering situations.

Principles of Animal Welfare

The MVMA Animal Welfare Committee supports the AVMA Animal Welfare Principles. The Principles can be found here. 

Position Statement on Canine Ear Cropping and Tail Docking

The MVMA opposes routine ear cropping or tail docking of dogs when performed solely for cosmetic reasons. The Michigan Veterinary Medical Association encourages the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards. Veterinarians should counsel and educate dog owners that these procedures are not medically necessary.

Position Statement on Dangerous Dog Legislation

The MVMA supports dangerous dog legislation by state, county, or municipal governments provided that legislation does not refer to specific breeds. The MVMA recognizes that public safety must be a priority and supports dangerous dog legislation. Evidence shows that breed specific legislation does not protect public safety.

Position Statement on Diversity and Inclusion

The MVMA encourages its members to view, evaluate, and treat all persons in any professional activity or circumstance in which they may be involved, solely as individuals on the basis of their own personal abilities, qualifications, and other relevant characteristics.

The MVMA confronts and rejects all forms of prejudice and discrimination that have led to misunderstanding, hostility and injustice. These include, but are not limited to, those based on race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, parental status, religious beliefs, military or veteran status, political beliefs, geographic, socioeconomic, and educational background and any other characteristic protected under applicable federal or state law.

Position Statement on Docking of Lambs' Tails

MVMA agrees with the position of the AVMA: Lambs' tails may be docked for cleanliness and to minimize fly strike, but cosmetic, excessively short tail docking can lead to an increased incidence of rectal prolapse and is unacceptable for the welfare of the lamb. We recommend that lambs' tails be docked at the level of the distal end of the caudal tail fold and at the earliest age practicable. Because tail docking causes pain and discomfort, the AVMA recommends the use of procedures and practices that reduce or eliminate these effects, including the use of approved or AMDUCA-permissible clinically effective medications whenever possible.

Position Statement on the Euthanasia of Dogs and Cats in Animal Shelters

The MVMA believes that all animals, including homeless and shelter dogs and cats, should be treated humanely and with dignity and respect and recommends that shelters develop an ongoing relationship with a licensed veterinarian.

Euthanasia should only be performed by trained individuals using commercially manufactured euthanasia solution. Stress and anxiety should be minimized by the use of pre-euthanasia sedation when necessary and sedatives should be incorporated into the euthanasia protocol.

For adult dogs and cats it is preferred that euthanasia solution should be given intravenously; intraperitoneal injection is acceptable for cats, kittens, and small puppies.

Intra-cardiac injection of euthanasia solution is only acceptable if the animal is unconscious or anesthetized. The use of carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide gas for euthanasia of shelter dogs and cats is not acceptable.

Position Statement on Non-Economic Damages

The MVMA opposes any legal change that would allow the collection of non-economic damages related to the death or injury of an animal. Such a change does not strengthen the relationship between people and animals and in fact may be detrimental to it. Allowing for non-economic damages may adversely affect animal welfare by influencing the way animal owners, veterinarians and society care for animals and protect public health. The MVMA continues to work to promote animal health, public health and to educate society on the importance of the human animal bond and responsible animal ownership.

Position Statement on Spay and Neuter Age

The MVMA believes that the age for performing ovariohysterectomies or gonadectomies in dogs and cats should be determined by the veterinarian and the pet owner, taking into consideration the health and development of the individual animal, as well as the need to stem the overpopulation problem in these species. Where the number of unwanted animals is the primary concern, the MVMA supports the concept of early (prepubertal, 8 to 16 weeks of age) spay/neuter in dogs and cats.

Position Statement on Feline Rabies Vaccination

All Michigan cats should be vaccinated against rabies. Rabies remains one of the most important zoonotic diseases in Michigan and the United States. Zoonotic infections can be of great importance because of high incidence, contagiousness, morbidity or mortality. Rabies is considered to be universally fatal.

All mammals are susceptible to rabies virus infection and potentially capable of transmitting it to humans. Every year dozens of animals test positive for rabies virus infection in Michigan. For at least the last 25 years, the domestic animal in both the United States and Michigan to most commonly test positive for rabies has been the cat, with 3-4 times more infected cats reported annually than dogs in the United States.

Vaccination of domestic animals, especially cats and dogs, is crucial. Vaccinated pets are a protective barrier between the people who own and interact with them and rabid wild animals with which their pets might have contact. Rabies vaccines of almost 100% efficacy are available for cats 3 months of age and older. We recognize there are some cats in which the public has an interest, but ownership is not established, e.g. farm or feral cats.

The Michigan Veterinary Medical Association recommends that all cats be vaccinated against rabies.