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Laura Bies

AAALAC adopts 2020 AVMA Euthanasia Guidelines

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AAALAC International, a private accreditation organization, announced that it will adopt the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2020 Edition as an ‘AAALAC Reference Resource,’ with two clarifications:

Clarification #1: These Guidelines were designed for use by members of the veterinary profession who carry out or oversee the euthanasia of animals. Euthanasia for scientific purposes is under the purview of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee or Oversight Body (IACUC/OB). In these situations, “The IACUC[/OB] has mandatory veterinary input and considers animal welfare, requirements for postmortem tissue specimens, and interference of euthanasia agents or methods with study results.” 

Clarification #2: The Guidelines apply to methods of euthanasia which are strictly defined, such that “[w]hile some methods of slaughter and depopulation might meet the criteria for euthanasia identified by the Panel on Euthanasia (POE), others will not and comments in this document are limited to methods used for euthanasia.” With regard to free-ranging wildlife, the Guidelines acknowledge that “... the quickest and most humane means of terminating the life of free-ranging wildlife in a given situation may not always meet all criteria established for euthanasia (i.e., distinguishes between euthanasia and methods that are more accurately characterized as humane killing).” These limitations in application of the guidelines notwithstanding, AAALAC International emphasizes that death of animals for scientific purposes, including the method of death, is under the purview of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee or Oversight Body (IACUC/OB). 

The OC was encouraged to see the second clarification and has contacted the Council to urge it to consider affirmatively accepting rapid cardiac compression, in addition to the more general statement in the clarification. 

Background: The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) earlier this year released the 2020 revision of its euthanasia guidelines, in which they failed to  re-classify rapid cardiac compression. The OC has long argued, to the AVMA and to other organizations and group which rely on the AVMA guidelines, that there is sufficient scientific evidence to support the use of rapid cardiac compression. The OC will continue to make sure other organizations are aware of the scientific justification for rapid cardiac compression. 

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