AVMA’s Guidelines for the Depopulation of Animals

Humanely ending the lives of animals is one of the most difficult, but necessary, tasks for veterinarians to oversee. During times of crisis or major catastrophe, depopulation of affected animals may sometimes be the most ethical and compassionate action to take. Dr. Steven Leary, chair of the AVMA panel that wrote AVMA’s first Guidelines for the Depopulation of Animals, gives an overview of this important guidance document released in 2019. Dr. Leary illustrates how the guidelines can help veterinarians in any area of medicine - from shelter medicine to agriculture, companion-animal practice, zoos, public health, and beyond – determine a course of action when the difficult decision to depopulate has been made. 

Participants can expect to learn about:

• The difficult situations in which a depopulation decision may need to be made

• How depopulation differs from euthanasia and animal slaughter

• Why depopulation guidelines are important for veterinary professionals in all settings, from companion animal practice to agriculture to research to zoo and wildlife environments

• How depopulation balances protection of animal welfare with the need for rapid response and prevention of further devastation.

Dr. Steven Leary is chief medical officer at Fidelis Pharmaceuticals. He received his DVM from Iowa State University and postdoctoral training in laboratory animal medicine and comparative pathology from Johns Hopkins University. During 40 years of experience Dr. Leary has held many leadership roles, including director of the animal resources program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, assistant vice chancellor for veterinary affairs at Washington University in St. Louis, member of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC), president of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM), and chair of the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Committee and Panels on Euthanasia, Humane Slaughter and Depopulation. He is past recipient of the ISU Stange Award, Charles River Prize, and AALAS Griffin and Nathan R. Brewer awards.

Dr. Leary